For 129 years, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has partnered with local businesses to grow a more economically vigorous community with exceptional quality of life. In 2010, the Chamber focused on that mission with a wide range of initiatives. Here are highlights from a great year.
Fort Worth saw a wide array of companies either moving, expanding or launching operations here in 2010. Eleven projects secured 2,200 jobs with a $127 million payroll, $180 million in capital investments and more than 1.6 million square feet of space. At the forefront were major relocations, including software maker Solera’s headquarters move to Solana from San Diego and vegetable packing giant Allens’ move into the former Ranch Style Beans plant. Pratt Industries, the sixth largest paper and packing company in the U.S., opened its high-tech box factory at RiverPark Business Park.
Site Selection magazine recognized the Fort Worth Chamber as one of the Top 20 Economic Development agencies of 2010. This the fourth time in the past seven years the Chamber has received this designation.
International activity focused on exploring trade relations with companies in Lower Saxony, Germany, and business and cultural possibilities with Fort Worth’s eighth Sister City, Guiyang, in China.
Fort Worth Chamber staff provided oversight and technical assistance for GO Centers in all 13 of the Fort Worth Independent School District’s high schools and three alternative campuses as well as schools in other area ISDs. A new satellite (community) GO Center was established at the Presbyterian Night Shelter. On average, 7,500 students visit the centers annually where they can research careers, college plans and financial aid while working with mentors.
As part of the Fort Worth ISD’s Project Prevail, aimed at increasing the number of high school graduates, Distinguished Employers of Fort Worth Teens connected 53 employers in 233 locations with nearly 2,000 FWISD students in a collaborative program that helps students build job experience and career/college readiness while helping employers strengthen skills in managing teen workers.
Job Links EXCELerator helped employers to quickly fill openings. Presented by the Chamber and AT&T, the monthly program partners with Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County and local chambers to bring businesses and placement experts together in monthly business-to-business gatherings. Average attendance is 70, with 500-1,200 jobs presented.
GOVERNMENT AND URBAN AFFAIRS
With 275 attendees, the Coalition of Tarrant County Chambers gathered in Austin for Tarrant County Days at the Capitol, March 2-3, with a reception at the Omni Austin and breakfast with elected officials at the Austin Club.
Members of the Chamber’s Vision Fort Worth program for young professionals (YPs) headed for Austin and the 82nd Legislature on a day trip that marked the first-ever Vision FW Day at the Capitol, sponsored by BNSF Railway and the Open Channels Group. On March 1, 55 YPs networked with counterparts in the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce program and met with local lawmakers.
The Chamber’s second annual Health Care Summit, presented local, state and national experts who focused on spiraling health costs, potential solutions and effects of federal health care reform on local business. Topics for the 200 attendees included an update on health care legislation, tax issues and the overall state of health care.
Vision Fort Worth, the Chamber’s program for young professionals, completed its fourth year, introducing a mentorship initiative that pairs YPs with Chamber board members who share their expertise and networks. The initiative helps YPs develop connections and community involvement. Bell Helicopter was presenting sponsor of six Night Vision events and two luncheons featuring Fort Worth South President Paul Paine and Robert Earley, CEO of JPS Health Network. Additionally, a Community Action subcommittee was formed to identify charitable service involvement opportunities.
Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Melody Johnson presented her sixth annual State of Education event, presented by Southwest Bank. She discussed a number of FWISD advances, including the district’s new Gold Seal Programs of Choice and Schools of Choice that tailor students’ education to meet their career aspirations. Johnson also provided insight into a $43 million federal grant for resources to strengthen the Public Educators Accelerating Kids (PEAK) program at 15 challenged schools. And she shared information about the Rainwater Charitable Foundation’s $1.5 million gift to allow FWISD to partner with Teach for America, a program that trains college graduates and professional educators to teach in urban and rural public schools.
The Chamber’s Leaders in Business luncheon series presented by Weaver brought members together with exceptional business leaders, including David Bonderman, cofounder of private equity giant TPG, XTO Energy President Jack Williams and Cash America CEO Dan Feehan.
Women Influencing Business, presented by Executive Health Program at Texas Health Fort Worth, focused five events on raising awareness of and opportunity for women’s involvement in Tarrant County business leadership. They included two luncheons, one workshop and two networking events. Luncheon programs featured U.S. Air Force Col. (Ret.) Kim Olson and sisters Alyce Jones of Adair Eyewear and Dr. Marie “Doc” Holliday.
Women Influencing Business launched a “Best Places to Work for Women” recognition program with a research study conducted by an undergraduate marketing research class from Texas Women’s University. Dr. Pushkala Ramen, associate professor of marketing, Texas Women’s University worked with the class to moderate focus group discussions and administer community surveys to business women in varying life stages.
A recognition program will be launched in the fall of 2011 and the best practices research will be available to local companies to use in recruitment and retention of women employees. The program is a collaboration of the Fort Worth Chamber, Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber and Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber.
The 24th annual Chamber Golf Classic, presented by GDF Suez at Ridglea Country Club, provided fun for 223 golfers, and the Taste of Tarrant event and competition, presented by Coors Light Distributing Company, attracted 14 restaurants.
Mayor Mike Moncrief focused on one of Fort Worth greatest strengths — public-private partnerships –during his eighth annual State of the City address presented by Southwest Bank. This was his final such address as he announced he would not seek a fifth term.
Many mourned the passing of Charles Simmons, chairman of guest speakers for the Petroleum Club of Fort Worth, who partnered with the Chamber’s Leaders in Government series. Presented by Kelly Hart and Hallman LLP, these luncheons brought members face-to-face with key political leaders and public policy experts, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a local state legislators panel discussion of issues, and presentations from Scott McCown, Center for Public Policy Priorities executive director, and Dale Craymer, president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association.
The annual Colonial Preview luncheon, hosted by the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, featured CBS Sports Producer Lance Barrow and PGA TOUR golfer J.J. Henry, a TCU graduate and Fort Worth resident. And Tony Stewart, a NASCAR star, revved up attendees at the Chamber Day at the Speedway presented by Office Depot.
Area Council luncheons presented by Teletouch Hawk Electronics presented a diverse group of notables. Texas Christian University’s head football coach Gary Patterson huddled at lunch with combined Area Councils membership. J.D. Granger, Trinity River Vision Authority executive director, addressed the North Area Council. Fort Worth City Council members Kathleen Hicks, Danny Scarth and Frank Moss addressed the East Area Council. Van A. Romans, president of the Fort Worth Museum of Science & History, briefed the West Area Council. Tarrant County College Chancellor Erma Hadley addressed the Central Area Council.
Getting to Know Your Chamber, sponsored by Alexander Chandler Realty, benefitted members with personal and professional strategies to maximize business growth. More development and connections were shared through programs such as Impact Your Business presented by Sandler Training, Business After Hours, Leads Explosion, Leads Groups and Gold Member Breakfasts presented by Reliant Energy.
AROUND FORT WORTH
The U.S. Department of Transportation approved $34 million for the Tower 55 Multimodal Improvement Project, which will increase rail capacity at one of the busiest and most congested at-grade railroad intersections in the United States.
Construction began on the North Tarrant Express, a $2 billion public-private project that will significantly improve and add toll lanes to 13 miles along I-820 and SH 121/183 from I-35W to the SH 121 split.
Veterans welcomed the new VA Fort Worth Outpatient Clinic and its advanced health care resources on southeast Loop 820. The expanded facility is the largest VA outpatient clinic in the United States.
Football powerhouse Texas Christian University scored worldwide applause when the Horned Frogs won the 97th annual Rose Bowl, defeating Wisconsin, 21-19.
Metroplex sports fans were delighted when the Texas Rangers brought home their first American League Pennant after besting the New York Yankees in six games, and then advanced to the 2010 World Series, becoming the first Texas MLB team to win a World Series game.
Fort Worth’s warm hospitality greeted thousands of Super Bowl XLV fans during an icy Super Week. Cowtown melted thousands of hearts as the American Football Conference (AFC) host city. At the forefront were the Fort Worth Ambassadors – volunteers trained well in helping visitors experience Fort Worth. Meanwhile, ESPN broadcasts from Sundance Square gave millions of viewers and listeners around the world a daily dose of Fort Worth.