Imagine Brownsville – Brownsville, TX

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Community vision and values, Economic development
  • Engagement Approaches Community conversations/dialogues, Visioning/ strategic planning
Project Description

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The Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan helped define a new economic vision for the region. Prosperous vision themes were defined through intensive community engagement, describing a community with low poverty rates based on targeted industrial clusters that offer good jobs paying livable wages and sustainable employment opportunities for future generations. Winner of the American Planning Association’s 2009 Comprehensive Planning Award, the plan had two primary goals: first, to establish the community’s vision objectives for a ten-year planning horizon; and second, to develop an implementable strategy to help reach these targeted objectives by leveraging the community’s natural, institutional, human, economic, and infrastructure resources in an effective, competitive and sustainable way.


Outcomes Summary

Among the projects that have been implemented or are underway: an expansion of the city’s anti-smoking ordinance, an ordinance regulating the use of plastic bags by retail stores, an expansion of hiking and biking trails and an effort to restore the city’s historic “resacas” (dry or marshy river channels).

Brownsville has improved the adjectives with which the city is described in both local and national media, and more importantly by its own citizens. They are refining from titles of “poorest”, “fattest” and “highest rates of diabetes in the nation.” As a city mostly known for being “worn” by its border violence, poverty and high rates of disease, they are not just changing our image through superficial marketing campaigns, but truly working to improve the health and well-being of all our residents through smart planning, economic development, and quality clinical care. The comprehensive engagement efforts and action planning have created a seismic shift in attitudes about Brownsville, both from the perspective of its residents and the rest of the country.


Civic Engagement Strategies

The Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan helped define a new economic vision for the region. In 2011, eight public entities from Brownsville came together to form the United Brownsville Coordinating Board to implement the Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan. These entities include: Brownsville, the Port of Brownsville, Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, Brownsville Independent School District, University of Texas at Brownsville, Texas Southmost College, Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, and Brownsville Public Utilities Board.  Eight private sector non-voting members (community leaders) are also part of the United Brownsville Board, including the Executive Director of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, attorneys, business owners, and individuals in the professional/accounting, building contractors, and medical professions. United Brownsville, a 501(c)(3) organization, services as a backbone for cross-institutional collaboration and to ensure the implementation of the Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan. This group secured the necessary funding from state, local and federal grants to implement the community’s plan.

The vision and goals were developed through an extensive public participation process that was centered on the Task Force and involved over 250 participating individuals. The Task Force developed over 180 goals, objectives and sub- objectives and prioritized the top three objectives within each of the nineteen sub-dimensions.

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