Welcome to Kerr EDC
Mission: To retain existing jobs and create new job opportunities in Kerrville and Kerr County, which helps benefit the Hill Country quality of life we all enjoy.
“The KEDC is tasked with fostering the growth of the community through the recruitment of industry, expansion of local business and up-skilling of our talent, all while making sure we retain the fabric of the Texas Hill Country.” — Gilberto Salinas, KEDC Executive Director
Kerr County, situated in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, has a rich history of economic development that reflects the broader trends of the state’s growth. From its early days as a frontier settlement to its current status as a vibrant community, Kerr County’s economic journey is one of resilience, adaptability, and progress.
The story of economic development in Kerr County begins with its founding in 1856, when Joshua Brown and James Kerr established a ranching and farming community along the Guadalupe River. The region’s fertile soil and ample water resources laid the foundation for an agrarian economy, with cattle ranching, farming, and the production of wool becoming key economic activities. As the railroad expanded into the area in the late 19th century, it facilitated the transportation of goods, opening new markets for local products and stimulating trade.
The early 20th century saw the rise of tourism as a significant driver of Kerr County’s economy. The county’s natural beauty, including its rolling hills and clear rivers, attracted visitors seeking respite from urban life. This led to the development of resorts and lodges, creating a tourism industry that remains vital to this day. The construction of the Y.O. Ranch Hotel in the 1920s marked a milestone in Kerr County’s transformation into a tourist destination.
The economic landscape underwent a transformation in the mid-20th century with the discovery of oil and gas reserves in the region. This discovery brought about an energy boom that injected substantial capital into the local economy, leading to increased job opportunities and infrastructure development. The oil and gas industry, along with related sectors such as manufacturing and construction, played a pivotal role in shaping Kerr County’s economic diversification.
As the decades progressed, Kerr County’s economy continued to evolve. The establishment of Kerrville State Hospital in the mid-20th century provided a stable source of employment and contributed to the growth of the healthcare sector. Additionally, the presence of Schreiner University brought educational opportunities and a skilled workforce to the area, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
In recent years, Kerr County’s economic development has been characterized by a focus on preserving its natural resources while embracing new technologies. Sustainable agriculture, agri-tourism, and boutique wineries have gained prominence, capitalizing on the county’s picturesque landscapes. The emphasis on environmental conservation aligns with the growing trend of eco-conscious consumers, further bolstering the local economy.
The county’s location between major cities like San Antonio and Austin has also played a role in its economic trajectory. Kerr County has positioned itself as an attractive destination for individuals seeking a balance between urban amenities and a more relaxed rural lifestyle. This has led to an influx of residents, spurring growth in the real estate sector and local businesses that cater to this expanding population.
In conclusion, Kerr County’s economic history is a tapestry woven with the threads of agriculture, energy, tourism, healthcare, education, and innovation. From its origins as a ranching community to its present-day status as a dynamic hub, the county’s journey reflects the tenacity and adaptability of its residents. As Kerr County continues to navigate the ever-changing economic landscape, its rich history serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of progress and growth.
Kerr EDC Staff
Gilberto Salinas is the Executive Director of the Kerr Economic Development Corporation in Kerrville, Texas, which is in Hill Country and part of the San Antonio-Austin business corridor. As the economic development executive in Kerrville, Texas, he is implementing strategies for business and corporate growth in an array of sectors which are tied to the recently launched 2050 Your Voice-Your City comprehensive plan.
In his prior role, he was the head of economic development for the Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico Borderplex, a binational and bicultural region of 1.2 million where he managed a prospect pipeline of $11 billion in projects and regularly met with top-level executives of Fortune 500 companies.
As an economic development career-professional, Gil has had the distinctive opportunity to work a project of significant impact with Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, and its founder Elon Musk, who in 2014 announced the construction of their South Texas Launch Site at Boca Chica Beach. He recently was chosen to present his story about the SpaceX project in a Ted Talk series at the IEDC 2017 Going Global Conference in Toronto.
In 2016, Governor Gregg Abbott appointed Gil to his Texas Aerospace & Aviation Advisory Committee. In March 2021, he was appointed by Governor Gregg Abbott to the Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority.
He is a recipient of the DCI 40-Under-40 Rising Stars in Economic Development in the nation, North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers of 2021, and in 2015 was named the Distinguished Alumnus of Leadership Brownsville and Masons Community Builder of the Year.
Gil is currently a board member of the International Economic Development Council and a founding board member of the Bordernomics Initiative-Mexican and Americans Thinking Together (MATT). Salinas earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Texas–Pan American.
In his off time, Salinas has been casted to play protagonist roles in Texas-based productions, including Robert Rodriguez’s cult classic ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ and most recently in ‘Queen of the South’ on the USA network.
Katie Milton Jordan, MBA, serves the Kerr EDC as Manager of Business Development, Entrepreneurship and Talent. She is an entrepreneur who helps small business owners maximize productivity, profitability, and peace. She believes the world would be a better place with even more small businesses. Katie has lived abroad in three countries and traveled to over eighteen. She holds certifications in the Neuroscience of Leadership, Certified Exit Planning Advisor, Certified Business Intermediary, and an MBA in Ethical Leadership from Schreiner University.