Posts Tagged ‘Economic’

New EVP weighs Fort Worth’s outlook

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Brandom Gengelbach, Executive Vice President of Economic Development

Brandom Gengelbach, 40, a business professional with diverse foreign and domestic experience, has joined the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce as executive vice president of Economic Development.

Gengelbach grew up in Houston and the Plano-Addison area. He holds an MBA from the University of Southampton, near London, where he was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and a bachelor’s degree from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

“We’re excited to have Brandom in a role that’s so vital to the Chamber and our partners who depend on us to help drive Fort Worth’s growth, prosperity and quality of life,” said Chamber President and CEO Bill Thornton.

Gengelbach shared thoughts about the Chamber and Fort Worth’s outlook in a Q&A with the Chamberletter:

Q: What’s it like to be back in North Texas? What’s your reaction to Fort Worth?

A: There is no other place that my family and I want to be than Fort Worth.  I loved living in North Texas as a child and always said if I came back home I would want to live in Fort Worth. The authenticity and genuineness of the people is truly unique and sets this community apart.

Q: What’s one of Fort Worth’s greatest advantages in the economic development arena? How will you leverage that advantage?

A: The key to future growth revolves around our ability to truly differentiate our product from the competition. We have a great airport, central location, strong labor force and good infrastructure, but so do a lot of other communities we are competing against.

More work needs to be done on my end to truly understand Fort Worth’s unique competitive advantages, but to me our greatest advantage is our brand. We have all the economic development advantages of doing business in New York or London, but we are a community that values relationships and uses those relationships to help others.

We selflessly work together as a city, county and local business community to develop solutions that positively impact the entire region.

We need to use our brand in all we do so everyone who comes in contact with Fort Worth understands our authenticity and recognizes the collaborative nature of our city. This sets us apart from our competition.

Q: What’s one of Fort Worth’s greatest challenges in the ED arena? How will you address such a challenge?

The most important part of starting a new role like this is to listen.

There are many talented people in Fort Worth doing remarkable things to move this city forward.  My first 90 days on the job will be meeting all the economic development stakeholders of Fort Worth, as well as the region, and listening to what is taking place to better our community.  These first 90 days will help me gain a deeper perspective of the strengths and challenges that lie ahead.

That being said, one immediate challenge I see is the need for additional resources to help local companies expand and to attract new ones.

For the sixteenth largest city in the nation, the Chamber’s Economic Development department has one of the lowest budgets compared to those we compete against. If we want to be proactive in our economic development and take things to the next level, we need the resources to do it.

My initial thought is to investigate the feasibility of creating a multi-year economic development strategy with key performance metrics to measure our progress against. From there we can work with all relevant stakeholders to develop and fund this strategy to ensure we all have a vested interest in reaching the goals we have set.

Q: 4. Looking back, what’s one aspect of your experience that best prepared you to lead the Chamber’s economic development initiatives? Looking forward, how will you apply that experience and philosophy to your role at the Chamber?

A: The common thread in my economic development background has been the importance of teamwork when helping grow a community.

The ability to put what is best for the expanding business ahead of your personal goals, or that of the organization you represent, separates good communities from great ones.

The key to creating a strong community is listening to every local stakeholder (city, county, regional communities, utilities, local business, etc.) as you develop an economic development strategy and involving them every step of the way as you implement that strategy.

This creates buy-in and a true sense of the entire community partnering together to grow the region.

Q: How would you describe your style of leadership? What makes an effective leader?

A: I lead by example. I lead with energy and passion because I love what I do and love the people I get to do it with. The decision to come to Fort Worth had everything to do with the warmth and energy of the Chamber team as well as the public and private partners I met during the interview process.

My style of leadership involves making sure everyone is in the best position to use their individual strengths to help accomplish the goals of the organization. Once people are aligned with their strengths a leader should communicate often, provide their team with the tools they need to be successful and get out of their way.

Q: You took a sabbatical to learn Spanish in Mexico and South America. Why? How will you use Spanish in your Chamber role?

A: I took the sabbatical because I was passionate about learning another language and the unique insight and knowledge gained through understanding how other people communicate.

Spanish has played a big role in creating friendships and opening doors that otherwise would be closed.

Q: What’s your view of Fort Worth’s potential regarding international trade opportunities?

A: The international component of my job at the Fort Worth Chamber is the most exciting.

With DFW International Airport and the Alliance Global Logistics Hub we have the perfect infrastructure to be successful at international trade.

The key is to spend the necessary time and effort to market Fort Worth to the world and to continue establishing strong international relationships. This takes times, but the implications for trade and investment are huge.

Q: You have a bachelor’s degree in journalism. What attracted you to that field? Why did you opt for a business career? How does journalism help you in your professional life?

A: I have a passion for communications, and journalism is part of that. I communicate for a living, so to be able to speak and write well are key to being successful at what I do.




North Texas delegation promotes trade with Tokyo, Hong Kong

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

A delegation of more than 20 North Texas government officials, economic development representatives and corporate executives completed a trade mission to Tokyo and Hong Kong Nov. 7-11. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and the Fort Worth Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development Melonye Whitson were among the participants promoting tourism, business opportunities and diplomatic ties with the region.


Bob Jameson, Fort Worth Convention & Visitor Center; Melonye Whitson, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce; and a prospective Japanese investor smile for the camera.

Additional participants included Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Board Chairman Sam Coats and other senior airport executives, representatives of the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. Corporate representatives included American Airlines, Civitas Capital Group, Ebby Halliday, Estrada Hinojosa & Company, Texas Central Partners and PwC.

The trip included a series of meetings, seminars and company visits to show the value of conducting business in North Texas. In Tokyo, the delegation met with members of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japanese Federation. Delegation members also had opportunities to meet with State Minister of Foreign Affairs Kentaro Sonoura and Governor Hideaki Ohmura of Aichi Prefecture, as well as with executives from Toyota, ORIX, NEC and others. During a meeting with Japan Central Railway, delegates received an update about its high-speed rail technology and efforts to provide technical assistance to Texas Central Partners, the private developer of the proposed high-speed train between North Texas and Houston.

“The future for our relations between the two regions is quite positive and we learned a great deal about what is important to the Japanese,” said Whitson. “There’s a lot of interest in Texas and we’re building on the synergy that’s already taking place.”

The trip comes during a time when Japanese companies have been particularly active in the North Texas marketplace. In 2016, more than 160 Japanese companies have a presence in the region, as compared with 112 companies in 2012. Some of the most recent announcements include Toyota, which is moving its U.S. headquarters to Plano, and OKI Data Americas, which is opening a regional sales office in Irving.

“Fort Worth is the perfect location for Japanese economic expansion thanks to a number of advantages for businesses looking to establish or expand operations in the area,” said Whitson. “We have a diverse economy, excellent infrastructure, favorable regulatory environment, first-rate educational institutions, a highly skilled workforce and an outstanding quality of life.”

In Hong Kong, the delegation met with the Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. A meeting with the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of Hong Kong also took place.

Whitson joined Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on a panel.

Increasing the amount of air service between Asia and North Texas was another primary point of discussion during the visit since international flights play an important role toward expanding economic growth between these markets. Japan currently ranks 7th for international visitors to Fort Worth and Dallas, with half coming here for business. Japanese visitors stay in the area an average of six nights and spend almost four times what domestic visitors spend.

In 2015, Japan Airlines resumed daily nonstop service between Tokyo Narita and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, and American Airlines offers twice daily nonstop flights. Still, opportunities remain for establishing additional routes between North Texas and key Asian markets.

“It’s no secret that North Texas has become a ripe area of growth for trade and tourism with Asian companies, welcoming passengers daily on direct flights from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport,” said Mayor Price. “We greatly anticipate the deepening of existing relationships and the opportunity to forge new ties with our partners in Asia.”

Fort Worth representatives also visited its sister city, Nagaoka. It is the second largest city in Niigata prefecture and home to about to 280,000 people in this city. “Keeping strong ties and forging new ones with Japan and other nations is important to keeping the North Texas economy thriving,” Whitson said.







Veterans Find Jobs through Chamber Efforts

Thursday, November 10th, 2016


We hear it all the time; “I want to hire veterans but don’t know where to find them.”

So says Gary Owens, program support specialist for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Companies seeking qualified applicants are not aware of the resources to connect with veterans, he says.

Enter the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, which is actively involved with a number of local organizations that seek to prepare and hire veterans pursuing jobs in the workplace. Workforce Development programs such as Job Links and Hiring our Heroes have made a significant difference for veterans in the Fort Worth community. Serving as a strong liaison for transitioning veterans, the Fort Worth Chamber is “instrumental in taking the message to employers across Tarrant County and beyond,” said Owens.

The Job Links program is a partnership between the Fort Worth Chamber, Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County, Tarrant County College, veterans’ groups and members of the local business community. In recent years, Job Links has increased its emphasis on helping local military personnel and veterans promote their unique skill sets in order to transition into jobs offered throughout the business.

Betty Harvey, Director of Workforce Development and Veteran and Military Affairs at the Chamber, manages this program, which is held on the first Wednesday of each month at various locations in Fort Worth. At any given time, the Job Links meeting presents 500-2,000 available positions to career service and placement specialists.

The Fort Worth Chamber has also had tremendous success with the Hiring Our Heroes program. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President and Hiring Our Heroes President Eric Eversole commends the Fort Worth Chamber for being a “steadfast partner for Hiring Our Heroes” while “serving as a model for our nationwide, grassroots efforts to connect veterans with local businesses.”

As the veteran population continues to grow, “the Fort Worth Chamber not only has the pulse of the business community, they are working each and every day to highlight the tremendous opportunities that exist for veterans and their families in the region,” said Eversole.

The Chamber has assisted in planning, coordinating and conducting over 15 hiring events throughout the region in coordination with the Hiring Our Heroes organization, the Texas Veterans Commission and Employer Suppose of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), with hundreds of job seekers and firm offers extended, said Owens.

“We’re fortunate to have so many talented and skilled military transitioning into the Fort Worth Workforce,” said Harvey. While Fort Worth continues attracting more veterans to this military friendly community, the Fort Worth Chamber continues growing their veteran workplace resources with programs such as Allies in Service, Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, the Fleet and Family Service Center at the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, and the Job Connection Education program.

Contact Betty Harvey at 817-338-3361 or to find out more about our efforts with veterans.



Private Investment Bolsters Economic Success

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

By: Bill Thornton, President and CEO
Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce

In most U.S. cities, economic development is a process that is handled by a government agency or its designated public sector partner. From recruitment to incentive negotiations to final site selection, these organizations are working to bring new business opportunities to their communities. However, Fort Worth has adopted a different way of doing things. We learned long ago that augmenting government initiatives with public-private partnerships is effective for economic vitality.

Public-private partnerships at the grassroots level are at the heart of Fort Worth’s success. One of the earliest examples involves the expansion of the Texas & Pacific Railway (T&P) in 1873. Fort Worth’s survival depended on the completion of a T&P Railway extension that would bring the line into the city, but the project seemed to have stalled. A group of Fort Worth community leaders, which included John Peter Smith, decided to take up the cause by organizing the Tarrant County Construction Company to provide capital investment, labor, materials and supplies. Major K.M. Van Zandt further supported the cause by leading a group of business leaders to donate 320 acres of land to the railroad for the line extension.

The investment paid off handsomely. When the rail line was completed in 1876, Fort Worth became a major market center along the historic Chisholm Trail and the Fort Worth Stockyards was the premier center for cattle trade. More than a century later, the Fort Worth Stockyards continues to serve as a significant source of economic revenue for the city, drawing millions of visitors annually.

Fast forward several decades, and private investment played a key role in establishing Fort Worth as the second largest aviation cluster in the United States. Investors such as Amon G. Carter, Sr. worked with city leaders and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce to lure more aviation companies to the community. These efforts culminated in 1941, when Fort Worth secured an Army bomber assembly plant which is known today as Lockheed Martin.

bass-fusionPrivate investment in projects for economic growth was also responsible for the creation of Sundance Square, a mixed-use development that is one of the most successful downtown revitalization projects in the nation. By the 1970s, decades of urban decay had taken its toll on downtown Fort Worth. Sid and Perry Bass decided to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to buy land and renovate historic buildings in downtown Fort Worth to attract office users, restaurants and retailers.

The Bass family has continued those diligent efforts and now Sundance Square has become the heartbeat of downtown with a 55,000 square foot, state-of-the-art plaza and pavilion space. It attracts major events that place a national spotlight on Fort Worth, such as serving as the production center for ESPN during NFL Super Bowl Week in 2011 and the NCAA Final Four in 2014.

With the Bass family heavily involved in downtown revitalization, another prominent local investor focused his attention on north Fort Worth. Through Hillwood Properties, Ross Perot, Jr., and his development team created AllianceTexas, an 18,000-acre, master-planned community that is home to more than 425 companies. The community also includes over 1.2 million square feet of retail, restaurant, medical and entertainment components integrated with a variety of single-family and luxury apartment home options.

Since its inception in 1989, it is estimated that AllianceTexas has generated approximately $60 billion in economic impact for the North Texas region. The development is anchored by the Alliance Global Logistics Hub, which offers strategic intermodal transportation access through Fort Worth Alliance Airport, the BNSF Intermodal Facility, BNSF and Union Pacific rail lines and the FedEx Southwest Regional Sorting Hub.

AllianceTexas continues to expand and increase its economic influence. Most recently, Facebook selected the development as the site for its fifth, and largest, data processing center.

biology_5542The economic development efforts of Fort Worth’s private investors are supported by close partnerships with community organizations and public-sector entities, especially when it comes to creating a highly skilled workforce. For instance, Tarrant County Community College (TCCC) works directly with business leaders to create customized certification programs and classes to train current and future employees with specific skill sets. As well, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Solutions of Tarrant County and the Fort Worth Independent School District all work together to identify workforce trends and ensure that residents of all ages are being prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Without a doubt, the pioneering spirit that got a major railroad extended to Fort Worth, and changed the city’s course of history, has evolved into the entrepreneurial spirit that is constantly feeding Fort Worth’s robust economy with even more opportunities. With the ongoing involvement and support of today’s local business leaders, we have every reason to believe that public-private partnerships will continue to be the key to Fort Worth’s long-term economic vitality.










Welcome New Members for August

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

See our full Member Directory here. It’s searchable by keywords and categories.

Welcome New Members for August!

  • A.S.T. Landscape Services, Inc.
  • All Storage
  • Always There Personnel
  • Clean Sweep Property Services
  • Company Name
  • Conquest Partners
  • Courtyard Fort Worth Historic Stockyards
  • CycleBar Waterside
  • Designs For Living
  • Epix Medical Staffing
  • Facebook – Fort Worth Data Center
  • Frontline Source Group, Inc.
  • Garrett Adams- Edward Jones Investments
  • HFA
  • Highpoint Urban Living
  • Innovations Powered by Play, LLC
  • Kimley-Horn & Associates
  • Leslie Shields representing Health Markets
  • Magdalena’s
  • Murphy Express 8788
  • MWA CPA’s & Business Advisors
  • Painting With a Twist – South Hulen
  • Reunion Title – Camp Bowie Blvd.
  • Sales & Management Results, LLC, Sandler Training of Fort Worth
  • SJS Communications, LLC
  • Skanska
  • SKU2U Fulfillment, Inc.
  • T Mobile
  • The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Wired SEO Company

Mexico Mission Strengthens Trade Bridges

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Mexico City delegation included Sean Donohue, DFW International Airport; John Hernandez, Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber; Sarah Carabias-Rush, Dallas Regional Chamber; Abe Hidad, Dallas businessman; and David Berzina, Fort Worth Chamber.

Earlier this month, the Fort Worth Chamber joined Mayor Betsy Price, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and other civic leaders and business representatives on a trade mission to Mexico June 5-8. Political rhetoric and current immigration challenges notwithstanding, the fact remains that Texas and Mexico’s economies are strongly intertwined.

In fact, if Texas were a country, it would rank 2nd in total trade with Mexico, 2nd as the biggest buyer of Mexican exports, and 2nd largest supplier of imports to Mexico. (U.S. ranks 1st). Last year’s trade between Texas and Mexico was $178 billion, $94.5 billion exports to Mexico, $83.5 billion in imports from Mexico. More than 35 percent of total Texas trade is with Mexico.

“Building these face-to-face relationships with our neighboring trade partners allows us to communicate more accurately and openly, and that can turn tire-kicking into serious investment,” said David Berzina, executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber.

Organizations on the trip included the World Affairs Council, DFW International Airport, Cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber, Dallas Regional Chamber, Dallas and Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureaus, U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico City, ProMexico, and Mexican Consulate General in Dallas. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City also partnered with the delegation.

“Mexico, the U.S. and Canada form the largest contiguous trading bloc in the world,” said Mayor Price. “With natural resources, agriculture, energy and more, strengthening that North American trade relationship is a smart strategic move for growing and stabilizing our economies.”

While in Mexico City, the delegation met with leaders including the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson, Former U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza, and the Mexican Consul General Francisco de la Torre Galindo.

Fort Worth business representatives seeking future trade opportunity included Becky Renfro Barbolla, Mrs. Renfro’s salsa; Ed Riefenstahl, Texas Christian University; Michael Jacobsson, Sid Richardson Carbon and Energy; and Sheryl Harris of Tarrant County College.

Why the college interest? In 2014 there were 14,997 Mexican students studying at US universities- 43.9% enrolled at Texas schools, followed by 8.5% in California. And 8.5% of foreign students studying in Texas are from Mexico

In tourism, Mexico represents 35 percent of DFW International Airport’s international market. Six carriers serve 19 destinations in Mexico – AmericanAirlines, Aeromexico, Interjet, Spirit, Sun Country, Volaris. These carriers brought an economic impact of more than $1Billion (USD) to the DFW region.*

Berzina said that education about economic opportunities on foreign trade delegations is always a two-way street. During one meeting, “I saw a chart that projected the world’s top economies in the year 2050. China was Number 1, USA number 2, and Mexico was number 8. That was an ‘aha moment’ for me.”


*Hill + Knowlton contributed to research for this article.





Welcome New Chamber Members

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

See our full Member Directory here. It’s searchable by keywords and categories.

Welcome New Members for May!

  • Lantana Communications
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Sunni Boenker Insurance Agency
  • Kona Grill
  • Ethan Allen-Arlington
  • Larkin Addison, LLC
  • Ensemble Coworking
  • Camp Gladiator
  • Double Eagle Development
  • Cake Buds in Bloom
  • Association of United States Army – North Texas – Audie Murphy Chapter
  • D Reed & Associates PLLC
  • Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market Pharmacy
  • Watercrest at Alliance Town Center
  • Mustard Seed Jewelry, LLC / Marcie Finney Deisgn
  • Perfect Dental
  • Mechanical Solutions, Inc.
  • DFW
  • Slalom
  • Zilla Wraps
  • RH Accounting and Bookeeping Services

Welcome New Members for April 2016

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

See our full Member Directory here. It’s searchable by keywords and categories.

Welcome New Members for April!

  • Child Care Associates
  • AT Staffing
  • Sector 5
  • Atrium Officing
  • ARS Rescue Rooter
  • Sandlin Homes
  • G&A Partners LLC
  • CareNow
  • BluPlume Promotions
  • Mel/Arch Architectural Studio
  • Central Texas Pain Center
  • Lindsey Gamill, representing Smart Realty
  • Burleson Economic Development Corporation
  • The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation
  • Pollo Tropical
  • JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Fort Worth LLC
  • Elutions Group
  • Moritz Kia Alliance
  • Michele Ware- representing Keller Williams
  • Hydra Medical
  • bodybar Studios Fort Worth

Welcome New Members

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

See our full Member Directory here. It’s searchable by keywords and categories.

Welcome New Members for March!

Baylor Surgicare at Oakmont
Berry Good Buys
Biomat USA, Inc.
Brewed Inc.
Budget Blinds of Fort Worth
Cafe Bella
Canales Furniture
Capital Home Inspections
Chisholm Trail Transportation LLC
Craftwork Coffee Co.
Entitled Tax Service Inc.
Evergreen Life Services
Fort Worth Screen Printing, Inc.
Fugro Consultants, Inc.
Homewood Suites Hotel by Hilton
Imprimis Group
Jim Ross Law Group, P.C.
JPS Foundation
JR Shrewsbury Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Lifetime Hearing Aids
Longhorn Crossing Apartments
LT Men’s Clinic
Lubrication Engineers, Inc.
Maintenance of Fort Worth, Inc.
MSC Industrial Supply Co.
Passarella & Associates Inc.
Patchwork Strategic Consulting
PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP)
Radiant Dental Care
Simple Sleep Services
Sloan Brands
Spoons and Sprinkles
StraCon Services Group, LLC
T. Smith Inspection and Testing, LLC
Taco Cabana- North Tarrant
Texan Credit Corportation
The Orchard Event Venue & Retreat
Time Warner Cable Media
Veritas Energy, LLC
Woody’s Tavern