GARY S. FARMER – Opportunity Austin

Posted by on Tuesday, January 7th, 2020 in Blog

Reported by Phil Thoden

President Bill Davies called our first meeting of 2020 for the Rotary Club of Austin (RCA) to order. Girish Altekar led the pledge, and Tom Anderson gave our invocation of the day. Attila Horvath greeted each member and guest as they arrived, and Carl Noble introduced the many guests and visitors.

President Bill then presented Barbara Beck (sponsored by Pauline Gubbels) with her Blue Badge. Congratulations Barbara!

Cindy Brummer came up to provide a Global Awareness Update and reminded us about several programs RCA supports around the world including: corneal transplants in Bangladesh, a music school in Guatemala, a hospital expansion in Kenya, and Mercy Ships that provide free medical care in Africa.

President Bill returned to the podium with a few announcements:

  • The monthly Downtown Austin Breakfast Cluster will take place at Magnolia Café on Lake Austin Boulevard at 7am on Wednesday, January 8
  • Our weekly lunch will take place back at St. David’s next week (January 14th)

Vlad Bahrencu then led the Thank Goodness Basket and Mary Bird Bowman was first up to let us know about the birth of her and Bob Bowman’s first grandchild in December. Pauline Gubbels is celebrating her birthday. Tom Howard shared that his daughter just received her Master’s Degree in education. Leslie and Gaines Bagby’s daughter got married on December 21. Jim Bryce expressed appreciation for RCA members who helped him while he was recently ill. Last, Sara Pantin shared news about her granddaughter’s GPA during her first year in college.

After a solid 15 minutes of enjoyable fellowship time, Michael Portman introduced this week’s speaker, Gary Farmer, President of Heritage Title Company of Austin and Chairman of Opportunity Austin, a regional economic development initiative aimed at fostering job-creating investment across the Austin region.

Gary noted that for many years there was never an economic development plan for Austin. After suffering through two downturns in the 1980s and early 2000s, the Greater Austin Chamber decided to implement more sustainable economic planning here, and thus Opportunity Austin was first born in 2004.

Since that time, Austin’s economy has become much more diversified and therefore better able to weather any economic downturns. Still, there are many problems to address here locally, including water infrastructure and transportation challenges, as well as affordability.

Next week’s program will be a Recognition/Award program for the Austin Police Department. Pauline Gubbels closed out our meeting by leading the Four Way Test.

More About Our Speaker:


Chairman, Opportunity Austin

Gary S. Farmer is President of Heritage Title Company of Austin, Inc., a commercially oriented title insurance agency operating throughout the major markets of Texas. He has been in the title insurance business since 1985. During Gary’s tenure, Heritage has been recognized for its excellence in the commercial title insurance arena as it has grown to be among the largest independently owned title agencies in Texas.

Gary is involved in a variety of civic and charitable endeavors. Currently, he serves as Chairman of the Greater Austin Economic Development Corporation, Opportunity Austin 4.0 Campaign and Co-Chair of the Waller Creek Conservancy Capital Campaign. Additionally, Gary serves as a Board Member of the following organizations: The University of Texas Chancellor’s Council, The University of Texas Development Board, the President’s Council of The Real Estate Council of Austin, the National Multi Housing Council and The Waller Creek Conservancy.

Gary founded the Greater Austin Economic Development Corporation in 2003 and has served as its Chairman for eleven (11) years. He is the Past Chair of Opportunity Austin (1.0, 2.0 and 3.0), Past Chair of Advantage Austin III, Co-Founder and Past Chair of The Real Estate Council of Austin, Past Chair of Capital Area Transportation Coalition, Past Chair of Take on Traffic Initiative, Past Chair of Caritas Community Advisory Board (two terms), and has served as a Board Member on numerous other civic and charitable boards.

Gary has chaired seven (7) Capital Campaigns which have raised approximately $100,000,000 for community endeavors. Additionally, he has served on three (3) Mayoral Task Forces dealing with the economy, the environment and healthcare.

Gary and his wife, Susan, are graduates of The University of Texas, the proud parents of three daughters and members of Tarrytown United Methodist Church.

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