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Chamber launches Fortify plan to field new strategies in economic development

Posted March 21, 2018

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Aerial view of Downtown Fort Worth
More funding is needed to achieve the goals set by a new Fort Worth Chamber strategy aimed at making the city more competitive.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has launched a far-reaching strategic plan that retools internal and external operations to meet major challenges related to North Texas’ rapid growth, intense competition and new dynamics in the global business environment.

Branded as Fortify, the four-year plan focuses on Fort Worth and the region and includes an extensive fundraising initiative, reorganization through new hires and redefined staff roles, more aggressive marketing and increased member involvement.

Fortify responds to a very sobering reality,” chamber President and CEO Bill Thornton said. “We — the chamber, Fort Worth and the region — are at a crossroads in economic development. We can risk gambling on business as usual to try to keep up with unprecedented growth challenges and risk missing opportunities. Or we can field new strengths for greater reach and achievement, which are Fortify’s goals.”

The chamber’s internal reorganization began in February with staff reorganization and development of new job descriptions, said Brandom Gengelbach, executive vice president of economic development.

The chamber also launched a search for four senior vice presidents to implement and steer Fortify’s four pillars: business recruitment and retention; talent development, attraction and retention; small business and entrepreneur support; and government advocacy.

The budget goal this year is $6.5 million to fund external marketing, business advocacy and local entrepreneur support, with plans to scale up the budget to $8.1 million in the next two years.

Some smaller cities far outspend Fort Worth. Gengelbach said Oklahoma City’s economic development budget is $16 million, Kansas City’s is $10.6 million while Nashville, Tenn., works with nearly $9.5 million. Dallas fields an $8 million budget, while Austin is at $10.1 million.

Some of the top goals include:

  • Attract four Fortune 1000 corporate headquarters.
  • Attract 2,000 new jobs and create 2,000 jobs with wages above the county average.
  • Attract 20 Inc. 5000 companies.
  • 5 percent increase in the percentage of population age 25 and above with post-secondary degrees, licenses or certifications.
  • Increase business startups by 10 percent.
  • Aid in increasing funding to implement the Fort Worth Transportation Authority’s master plan.
  • Increase business-sector diversity on advocacy committees.

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