Takeaway from the Giddings Workforce and Education Summit: ‘Leadership Matters’

Takeaway from the Giddings Workforce and Education Summit: ‘Leadership Matters’ Main Photo

8 Feb 2023


Texas State Senator Lois Kolkhorst told the crowd of over 130 at the Giddings Workforce and Education Summit: "Leadership matters in your family, it matters in your friend group, it matters in your church, it matters in your school. Leadership matters. As a community grows, you have to have good leaders in place who listen, and then assimilate all that, and have a vision. It’s going to be driven by your local communities.” 

The Giddings Workforce and Education Summit, sponsored by the Giddings Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) and the Giddings Area Chamber of Commerce, was a testament to the City’s investment in the power of collaboration. The leaders brought together under one roof included:

  • Lois Kolkhorst, Texas State Senator
  • Joel Lopez, Giddings Mayor
  • David Stedman, Giddings Economic Development Corporation President 
  • Paul Fischer Lee County Judge
  • Frank Malinak, Judge-Elect
  • Spencer Schneider, City Manager
  • Dr. Mary Hensley, Blinn College District Chancellor
  • Hon. Aaron Demerson, Texas Workforce Commissioner
  • Paul Fletcher, Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area CEO
  • April Daniels, Smithville Workforce Training Center Executive Director
  • Karla Sparks, Giddings High School Principal
  • Jay Anderson, Blinn College District Vice Chancellor

Even as he acknowledged the leadership in the room, David Stedman, GEDC President, took the time to swing the spotlight on the audience to drive home the power of collaboration and personal investment. He invited every single stakeholder to stand up and be recognized: employers, members of the workforce, and proud citizens of Texas and Giddings. Mr. Stedman drove home that everyone plays their part.

Aaron Demerson, Texas Workforce Commissioner, spoke further about the collaboration of elected officials and smart economic development. “When we bring together the worlds of workforce, economic development, and education and then you couple that with elected leadership who gets it, then we are well on our way to success, and that is what is happening in Giddings. We have workforce; we have economic development; we have education. And you’ve heard from our elected leadership; you see the passion is there. You’ve met the mayor, the judges, and the like. Working together, that’s our secret sauce in Texas and why we’re so successful.”

Texas State Senator Kolkhorst shared legislative happenings, noting the past session had lasted ten months: one regular plus two special sessions. She talked about Texas HB 4361, which allows any Texas college or university to offer workforce training programs requested by an employer if the local college does not offer it. She also discussed Hwy 290, the east-west connector between Houston and Austin, and how she is collaborating with the Mayor and judges for smart growth that would benefit Giddings.

Giddings Mayor Joel Lopez led a workforce discussion panel with Smithville Workforce Training Center Executive Director April Daniels, Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area CEO Paul Fletcher, Giddings High School Principal Karla Sparks, and Blinn College District Vice Chancellor Jay Anderson. The news was shared that the Smithville Workforce Training Center has received a $4.89 million grant to bolster critical job training that will benefit Lee, Bastrop, and Fayette counties.

Mr. Stedman closed, “By bringing this dynamic team together to effect collaborative change, we have accomplished a lot.”


Ready to collaborate? Giddings offers the quality of life you want at a price that’s easier on the wallet. The bucolic city is ideally located between Houston and Austin, with access to advanced fiber-optic telecommunication networks, a skilled workforce, major transportation options, abundant groundwater, an Opportunity Zone, and several excellent properties for sale or lease. 

Find out how the Giddings Economic Development Corporation can help you and your business take advantage of these benefits. Contact us today at (979) 542-2067, edcdirector@giddings.com, or staff@giddingsedc.com! Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube! Check out our video library!