KILLEEN, TX — Killeen is growing, and the population is expected to continue to boom over the next 17 years. A study analyzing housing and development trends aims to help the city and school district plan for the future.
“It helps us plan for the future to try to attract jobs, better paying jobs to the area,” said State Rep. Brad Buckley, 14 Forward.
In a meeting held in City Council Chambers, experts projected that more than 7,000 jobs outside of the military will be created by 2035.
“Fort Hood is a 25 billion dollar impact on the state economy,” said Buckley. “It’s a tremendous source of a great workforce that we can use to attract business and leverage the skills that our veterans have,” he continued.
Analysts say a driving part of the population is Killeen's youngest residents. The birth rate is 50% higher than state averages. However, experts note a concerning trend of college-age students and young adults leaving the city.
“If you look at the types of jobs that young people want to perform, the areas of study they want to go into, many of the young folks leave to go to college. We need to have something for them to come back to,” said Buckley.
But that’s not the only challenge. The city is largely growing in the neighborhoods south of I-14. This begs the question, what does this mean for economic development in north Killeen?
“North Killeen is always going to be a focus point for the city council. We are trying to figure out ways to pay for that. We got our street maintenance fees that have passed, and we understand that. That’s one of the areas that is our identity,” said Mayor Jose Segarra.
Mayor Segarra says that perhaps our younger professionals could be critical in developing the north side of the city as they continue to see growth.
But before millennials head off to college, their academic foundation is built by Killeen ISD. The study shows that in 17 years, the student body will grow by 11,000.
“We’re really going to have to work hard now in anticipation for five years from now to make sure we are able to offer the academic programming to all of our students that we’re currently able to provide,” said Superintendent John Craft.