By BF Staff
From the July/August 2022 Issue
In Spring 2022, the Fort Worth Chamber launched the Regional Economic Development Partnership that brings together more than 18 municipalities and counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area to strengthen community relationships, share resources, and ultimately create a great place for business to be.
Read on for an interview with Fort Worth Chamber Executive Vice President of Economic Development Chris Strayer.
Business Facilities: Tell us about the Fort Worth, TX region and the Fort Worth Chamber. How does the recently established Regional Economic Development Partnership fit into your work at the Fort Worth Chamber?
Chris Strayer: The Fort Worth Chamber, with 1,400 member businesses, is one of the largest chambers in the North Texas region. Through its core functions of business attraction and retention, talent development, small business and entrepreneur support, and government advocacy.
In May we announced the launch of the Regional Economic Development Partnership, promoting regional growth and economic development across the western side of the DFW metro. This first of its kind collaboration brings together more than 18 municipalities and counties to strengthen community relationships, track business trends, and share data and resources.
The partnership has a dual focus: supporting existing local businesses through enhanced retention efforts as well as marketing the region as a target destination for relocating companies.
We’re extremely proud to launch this initiative with nearly 20 organizations committed to date. This collaboration provides invaluable information and resources to our regional partners and we’re so excited to work together to grow and develop our local economy.
The founding partners committed to investing in the organization include: City of Burleson, City of Corinth, City of Granbury, City of Joshua, City of Keller, City of Mansfield, City of Saginaw, City of Southlake, City of Weatherford, Cleburne Economic Development Foundation, Inc., Decatur Economic Development Corporation, Grapevine Economic Development, HEB Economic Development Foundation, North Richland Hills Economic Development, and Parker County Economic Development.
BF: What is a recent notable relocation or expansion project in the Fort Worth region?
CS: In April of this year, Las Vegas-based MP Materials held a ground breaking for a new site in Alliance, where the company will manufacture magnets.
MP Materials Corp. began construction at its first rare earth metal, alloy, and magnet manufacturing facility here in Fort Worth. This is a substantial component of a $700 million investment the company will make over the next two years to restore the U.S. rare earth magnetics supply chain. The project will create around 150 high-skill jobs and 1,300 indirect jobs and is located in Hillwood’s 27,000-acre, mixed-use development, AllianceTexas.
Another project that’s recently begun is Paycom, a software company that has established an office in Grapevine. This site will employ about 1,000 people.
BF: Please highlight an economic development program that’s having an impact. Is it existing or new?
CS: Each community in the Regional Economic Development Partnership approaches site selection a bit differently. An aspect I’d like to highlight is a universal focus on fostering the talent pipeline in the Fort Worth region.
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The school districts are a significant place for our teams to create connections between public entities and private industry. What are the needs of industry in our region? What do the school districts need from private industry to create curricula that helps prepare students?
Over the last several years, the Fort Worth Chamber has held a series of meetings for industries, and we bring in those professionals to talk with representatives from the schools. We’ve also done many career fairs. Earlier this year, we held an event where 400 students attended and interviewed with more than 40 companies. We’ve also done mock interviews with students to help them develop those skills.
This past year, we formed a partnership with private industry that resulted in 200 high school seniors participating in a work-study program.
We have been establishing these partnerships and activities through the Fort Worth Independent School District (ISD), as a pilot to identify and understand the best ways to work with the private sector to develop a talent pipeline.
Lockheed Martin has been working in the schools for a number of years now, and that is something we are looking to expand upon with other companies to expand opportunities for the community and business.
BF: What does the future hold? Or, anything else readers should know about Forth Worth region?
CS: As the Regional Economic Development Partnership grows, all members will work together to grow the region. It’s great when a project lands in one of these communities. And this partnership allows us to communicate, work together to share insights, and learn from each other too.