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Hundreds of Midlanders gathered Monday night at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center to learn more about a new collaborative initiative aimed at making the city a “world-class destination for business and talent.”

The event, which included opening remarks by Midland Mayor Jerry Morales and presentations by Dr. Ray Perryman and retired U.S. Army four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal, served as the official community “launch” for Priority Midland, an initiative led by the Midland Development Corporation (MDC).

According to its website, “Priority Midland is designed to bring together Midland-area taxing entities and other stakeholders into a collaborative forum to develop a strategic investment plan for the community.” That investment plan will focus on education, healthcare, housing, infrastructure, and quality of place.

The website explains that the Priority Midland project stems from “threatening” pressure on the city’s infrastructure and resources due to the growing energy industry and population.

“These challenges are compounded by the fact that existing public funding capacity is insufficient to meet our current and future needs,” the website states. “Community leaders must act collectively to ensure that Midland remains a world-class destination for business and talent, while meeting the needs of all its citizens.”

The MDC, which is funded through Type A sales tax, has hired three consulting groups to help with the planning effort of Priority Midland: McChrystal Group, TIP Strategies, and The Perryman Group. According to documents obtained by Texas Scorecard, the MDC has agreed to pay McChrystal Group up to $2 million and The Perryman Group $60,000, plus expenses.

Perryman, President and CEO of The Perryman Group, an economic research and analysis firm based in Waco, was the first guest speaker at Monday’s launch event. He discussed the history of the energy industry and the role the Permian Basin—and Midland in particular—plays as the industry’s epicenter. Because of Midland’s significance, he emphasized the importance of meeting the city’s critical needs.

“What we might like to have we don’t have. Keeping things the way they are, that’s not a choice,” Perryman stated. He noted that Midland has two options: doing the minimum to meet the area’s needs or partnering in Priority Midland’s efforts to “pursue excellence.”

If residents move forward with option one, “We’re not going to be a very good place to live because we’re going to have shortages of all kinds of things. We’ll have overcrowding,” he stated. Option two, he describes, would “magnify and try to make our region the bellwether of the economy it could be.”

Following Perryman, McChrystal, co-founder of the McChrystal Group which specializes in leadership training and consulting, discussed the importance of utilizing a “team of teams” approach to achieve the project’s goal. That approach entails collaboration and a flatter and more flexible organizational structure, two important concepts McChrystal said he learned during his time as commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2003, when he realized the conventional organizational structure of America’s special forces was dramatically hindering their fight against Al Qaeda.

For Priority Midland, the organizational structure will initially be comprised of a 14-member steering committee and five-member executive committee. When the organization later transitions to a formal 501(c)(3), the executive committee will serve as the board of directors. Members of the steering committee include Grant Billingsley, Bobby Burns, Midland School Board President Rick Davis, Don Evans, Rosalind Redfern Grover, Brent Hilliard, Matt Johnson, Midland County Judge Terry Johnson, Larissa Minigarez, Midland Mayor Jerry Morales, Jessica Rule, Susan Spratlen, Steve Thomas and Autumn Vest.

More information about Priority Midland can be found on the MDC’s website at midlandtxedc.com/community/priority-midland.

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