Sunday, October 9, 2011

Views from the Seats: October Engage

Feedback from attendees indicates the Oct. 6 Engage Breakfast was quite a success! A panel including Seton Family of Hospitals CEO Jesus Garza, UT President William Powers, and State Senator Kirk Watson addressed "ATXpansion: Central Texas Grows toward the Future."

Live polling took place throughout the event. By texting and tweeting responses, attendees helped to guide the discussion towards topics most relevant and pressing in our community. The results of the live polling are in our previous post.

The panelists discussed a variety of expansion-related issues -- from transportation, education and water conservation to healthcare and the establishment of a medical school in Austin. Here are few highlights of their comments:

Traffic and Transportation
The live audience poll indicated traffic and transportation is our region's top growth concern. Senator Kirk Watson agreed with the audience, saying that limited planning tools and a lack of sufficient funding are key issues. Said Watson, "You can’t vote 47% that transportation is your biggest problem, and then vote 47% that you don’t want to pay for it."

Medical School
Audience polling indicated that economic growth was the top benefit of creating a Medical School in Austin within 10 years. Jesus Garza stressed that beyond providing education for young medical students and residents and addressing a shortage in physicians, establishing a medical school would “be a great opportunity for us to really build the next economic equation for this region."

Bill Powers agreed, and pointed to the advantage of Austin already having the "underlying science and education" part of the necessary infrastructure. "All the elements are there," Powers said. "Biomedical engineering, chemistry and biochemistry, nursing, pharmacy, social work."

Each panelist concluded with a call to urging that in all areas of future growth, we should remember the importance of:
  • Building infrastructure for the next generation
  • Getting rid of “the fear factor” in order to encourage investment
  • Getting involved by becoming an expert in one’s passion
  • Approaching issues with pragmatism rather than political agenda

Popular Austin speaker and consultant Thom Singer was in the audience, and offers additional views and commentary on his blog, Some Assembly Required.

News Coverage
Be sure to visit the news coverage on our partner pages at Community Impact, and also click below to watch the coverage on KXAN. The Statesman also covered the story from the medical school perspective.

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