East Texas Town Experiences Economic Boom

An average of nine new businesses a month have been welcomed over the past year to the city of Mineola. Some credit goes to it's revitalized downtown. Just this month, they were honored as "The Best Downtown Management Program" for the state of Texas for 2003. The Dehaven Eye Clinic is the latest of more than 115 businesses to jump on the Mineola bandwagon over the past year. The addition of 277 jobs since 1989 has helped push the downtown occupancy rate to over 95 percent. Countless communities across the state are asking, why Mineola?

"I wish I knew what that secret is," joked Mineola Community and Economic Director Mercy Rushing. "I could bottle it, and we could make a lot of money in Mineola, Texas. The bottom line is, it's attitude. It's, we're proactive, we're not reactive."

That aggressiveness has encouraged Amtrak to make Mineola it's only stop between Longview and Dallas. It's also attracted a super Wal-Mart. Brenda Short thinks of Mineola as her "Haven". She quit the metroplex in favor of owning a small town business.

"I was drawn to Mineola because it's, it's very quaint," said Short, "it's historic, they do a great job of promoting the city. It's clean, the people are friendly."

Kenda Watson agrees. She opened Lone Star Quilts right across the street.

"It's just a very good place to consider opening up a business."

A big reason could be location. It sits at the apex of several highways, is a half hour from Tyler, and an hour and a half from Dallas. If you need more than what a small town can offer, it's not far away.

"We're not trying to be a Disneyland," said Rushing. "We're not trying to be the big industrial metroplex. We're Mineola, Texas."

The Texas Department of Transportation estimates 13,400 cars drive through downtown Mineola each day. The growth is expected to continue. An outer loop around the city is expected to be completed within five years. The city is also in the process of recruiting a major hotel chain.