Much To Be Contributed To Lubbock Growth

Panera Bread. Crave. World of Beer. Twisted Spigot.

Four of just the dozens of new restaurants continuing to pop up around the Hub City. All of these new businesses are contributed to one thing: an increase in Lubbock’s population.

“There is a bigger need for restaurants and hotels because of all of these people pouring into Lubbock,” Erika Moon, a Texas Tech graduate and current law student, said.

With a regional population base at 639,921 people, Lubbock is the 11th largest city in Texas, according to the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance website. The city is projected to grow 6.13 percent through the remainder of 2017.

With the continued increase in population, construction is occurring all over the city limits.

Jef Conn, commercial investment specialist and president of the Lubbock Association of Realtors, said reaching 250,000 people is considered a tipping point, when larger retailers and developers will begin to look at Lubbock in terms of development.

“As developers started to put more money into their projects and our population rose,” Conn said, “it made people start looking at [Lubbock] more seriously.”

Conn said the next tier for Lubbock in terms of population size would be reaching 350,000. After that, it increases to half a million people.

“Every tier that we go up in population,” Conn said, “bigger names and more national tenants will look at coming to Lubbock because we have the population to support their business quality.”

Conn says people are attracted to Lubbock for many reasons and one of the most common explanations is because of the citizens who already reside in the city.

“A lot of it is the people,” Conn said. “People who have lived here or have come to school here. [They] moved away and then came back because [Lubbock] is a great place to raise a family and the cost of living is cheap here.”

Conn said other factors include Texas Tech University, where many students work in fast-food restaurants, retail or as assistants in offices while in school. Nearly one-third of Lubbock’s population falls between the ages of 20 and 34, which is mainly due to the Red Raiders. Conn said the Lubbock medical field is also a huge factor because it is the largest health care system between Dallas and Albuquerque.

“On the retail side of things,” Conn said, “for every nine to 10 students that Texas Tech increases their population by, one retail job is created. The more students we have coming from Texas Tech, the more people can support their businesses and have employees.”

Moon, who has a degree in restaurant, hotel and institutional management, now attends Texas A&M University School of Law focusing on real estate law. She says the increase in businesses around Lubbock is a good thing for the city.

“When people used to think of Lubbock,” Moon said, “they would see it as this kind of desert wasteland, with nothing out there. People then get out to the city and see that everything actually is in Lubbock. There are so many more students going there now – Tech is booming and that is making Lubbock boom.”

According to the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance, other factors to the boom include the city having a highly skilled and educated workforce, good proximity to major national and international markets, affordable utility and living costs, and a diverse economy based on manufacturing agriculture, wholesale and retail trade services.

Lubbock growth is headed southwest of the city, meaning the new developments and outer loop will be leaning towards this direction. Conn says there is a huge demand for housing and prices continue to increase, especially in terms of construction. He said a lot of the increase is going to be determined by what President Trump and his administration do with importing goods.

“There’s so much demand right now that prices aren’t going down,” he said, “but they are staying steady or increasing with the newer construction.”

While expanding and growth seem inevitable, some citizens are not fans of the new growth in the Hub city. They feel it is taking away from local businesses that once thrived in Lubbock. However, Conn says a lot of the growth Lubbock is experiencing is both local companies expanding their businesses and new companies coming into town.

“We’re just positioned really well nationally,” he says, “so that people can make their product here and then ship it out elsewhere.”

Moon said she does not see these local restaurants and retail businesses getting lost in the mix because they have already stood the test of time.

“People will always continue to go to these local, family-owned places,” she said.

Conn says with growth comes the opportunity for new hotels, which provide more income for the city.

The Hotel Occupancy Tax plays a huge part in this. Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope posted a video-message about the tax on April 7, explaining how a portion of this tax comes back to Lubbock for each night stayed in a hotel in the area. Last year alone, the tax generated in over $6.5 million.

Lubbock uses this money to fund the convention and tourism bureau, sports authority and Civic Lubbock, a non-profit corporation designed for promoting wholesome, educational and cultural programs, attractions and entertainment.

Lubbock has a 13 percent hotel tax, which includes state and local portions.

“[The Hotel Occupancy Tax] provides millions of dollars a year that we can pump back into marketing Lubbock,” Conn said. “With more money and more tax revenue, the city can provide more services, more police and can pay for the expansion of more city services like sewage, water and trash pickup. Those are all good things.”

Click here to view a story map featuring many of the new restaurants popping up around Lubbock.

About Abby Aldrich

I am a senior journalism major from Fort Worth, Texas. I graduate May 2017 and currently work as the Sports Reporter at The Hub@TTU. I could talk for days about my cats and the Green Bay Packers. Go Pack Go!

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