By David Tuma, The Belton Journal
Ed Bandas, the new Retail Development Coordinator for the City of Belton brings a very wide variety of life experiences to the table. He is a retired Marine who graduated from boot camp in 1992. He grew up in Temple. His family lived there for nine years before they moved to Iowa. Eventually they moved back to Texas and settled in Tyler.
He has a degree in Marketing and was in artillery in the Marine Corps. Banda is familiar with Belton and Texas. “I am excited about the very positive attitude about Belton. If people weren’t excited about this community it would make my job difficult. The businesses and city staff would like to see the community grow,” said Bandas.
It takes time for things to happen. Much of the planning and ground work for infrastructure was completed in the 1990’s. This was after the huge oil bust and recession of the 1980’s. Those who lived in Texas can remember how hard those days were.
Belton is making the transition of bedroom community with little retail base to a community moving into their own. “It takes time to go from a bedroom community to a business center. Growth and the strategies needed to support the growth takes time. The first step is to define the position I have accepted. This is a new position and has never been done before in this community. I am spending a lot of time talking with local merchants, finding out what the needs are here and creating a business friendly atmosphere. From the zoning ordinances to city laws you have to look at the rules we have. I talked to some commercial realtors and asked them to make a push for Belton as an option for businesses moving into the area,” said Bandas.
He is going about things by finding out what is here, the opinions of those who live here and trying to develop a plan on how to serve the community. His perspective is fresh. Bandas has an outgoing positive attitude that just jumps out at you.
Belton sits in the middle of one of the highest growth areas in the country.
“Six of the fastest growing areas in the nation are in this state,” said Bandas. “Texas has a favorable businesses environment. If you are growing fast you have that. Belton is in a great location in terms of the growth in this state. You have to drive through Belton going from Killeen to Temple. If you are going from San Antonio or Austin to Dallas you drive through Belton. We have a fantastic school district. The infrastructure is in place to see growth.”
His business sense is based on reality. It is great to have businesses move in here but they have to make money.
“I am learning the politics of the community. Belton is developer friendly. Miller’s Smokehouse and Schoepf’s put us on the map. People stop here to eat from all over. The businesses we attract have to make money. You have to have people coming here if there is to be development. Property taxes only get you so far in providing services. A community has to have retail businesses. I have to earn the community’s respect. I can’t say ‘I am Ed; come talk to me.’ This community will continue to grow. I am just a piece of the puzzle.”