Economic Development, like many industries, has a “follow the leader” mentality; especially when a program or effort is proven successful or gains a lot of attention.
Case in point: remote worker incentives. The rise of the remote worker is one of the most significant changes to have taken place due to the COVID pandemic…and it’s here to stay.
Prior to COVID, regions were developing programs to lure remote workers from metro areas with a high cost of living. For example, one Midwest city gained national attention by instituting a unique remote worker incentive focusing on West Coast remote workers. Other communities/regions (and even one state) have copied this program to unveil their own remote worker program.
I applaud economic development leaders for attempting to address a real and present problem. What some fail to see is that copying someone else isn’t always the best strategy. Why? Because it does not fit their economic reality. There is no “one size fits all” solution to this problem.
In Wichita Falls…we do things a little differently. Playing “follow the leader” is not one of our strategies. Because we want to BE the leader, we must address this issue from OUR perspective, not someone else’s.
And that is exactly what we are doing.
Our remote worker effort focuses on keeping our existing asset base and getting former residents to return home. While this program is open to any resident of Wichita Falls, its primary targets are:
- Midwestern State University students
- Sheppard Air Force trailing spouses
- Soon-to-be military retirees and their spouses
- Former Wichita Falls residents wishing to return home for a better life
Our purpose is simple.
To encourage MSU graduates to stay in Wichita Falls. Offer a trailing spouse of our military community a good-paying remote-based job and to stay (or return) to Wichita Falls once they (or their spouse) retire, and finally, to entice companies to relocate former Wichita Falls residents back home to experience a better quality of life.
One major difference is recipient eligibility.
We are using our “Cash for Jobs” program to incentivize companies as their remote worker strategy. Companies do not have to have an actual presence in Wichita Falls to be eligible for this incentive.
What does that mean?
Any company located anywhere is eligible for the Cash for Jobs incentive by employing Wichita Falls residents as remote workers.
In today’s ever-changing world of economic development, the Wichita Falls Chamber continues to innovate. This strategy is why we are recognized as a leader for business recruitment, business retention, talent partnership, and marketing.
Full-service economic development has found a home with the Wichita Falls (TX) Chamber of Commerce. We are ok with crowd-following …as long as we are leading the group.
David Leezer is the VP of Business Attraction for the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce