PER RAY PERRYMAN:
Rural Texas is vital to the fortunes of the state and, indeed, the entire country. While currently responsible for only about 10.7% of the Texas population and 8.3% of the state’s workers, rural Texas accounts for 69.4% of all farm employment and 77.4% of timber jobs, both of which are vital to the quality of life and wellbeing of all of us.
This pattern also holds in manufacturing, with rural Texas accounting for 27.9% of food processing and 29.2% of lumber production employment. Moreover, these industries are expanding, with food processing up 12.4% and lumber production up 18.1% in rural Texas over the past decade.
Deep East Texas is a microcosm of this pattern. While it accounts for only 1.3% of the state’s population and 0.9% of employment, its vast forests provide 56.8% of the state’s timber-related jobs and about 13.1% of wood products manufacturing. This sector is also the source of significant new investment in the region at present.
Oil and gas production also occurs predominantly in rural areas.
In short, rural Texas provides the indispensable resources that allow urban Texans to enjoy their lives and supports critical segments of the national economy. Rural regions are also benefiting from the desire of many people to escape to pleasant environs, whether as weekend tourists or permanent residents.
For these areas to remain viable and serve their critical role in all of our lives, they require investments in schools, healthcare, infrastructure, broadband, and the other key components of sustainability. Providing resources to rural Texas is essential. To do otherwise is to eat our seed corn.
Nancy C Windham
President & CEO
Texas Forest Country Partnership
PO Box 747
Lufkin, TX 75902
(936) 632-3552 O