Objective: Grow Wichita Falls’ workforce and improve standards of living and quality of life for military families and veterans through enhanced Military Matters talent programming.
Sheppard Air Force Base is another critical component of Wichita Falls’ talent pipeline. The base strengthens the community’s workforce in two key ways. First, an average of 234 individuals “exit” their military career while stationed at SAFB each year according to data provided by the Chamber. These individuals (and their family members) have skills and experience that are valuable to a wide variety of employers if they can be retained in the community. Overall, nine percent of Wichita Falls residents between the ages of 18 and 64 are veterans, nearly double the national average. SAFB is also home to a significant number of “trailing spouses and partners.” While these individuals may be in Wichita Falls for a short time, they can be an important source of talent for local firms.
As part of the implementation of the first Falls Future strategy, the Wichita Falls Talent Partnership created several talent programs within the “Military Matters” initiative. Input participants praised these efforts and said they would like to see the community continue and expand its efforts to assist “military-affiliated talent.”
This Key Initiative focuses on continuing to support and grow the Military Matters talent programs to create a stronger workforce and improve standards of living and quality of life for military families and veterans. A portion of this work will entail enhancing marketing and visibility efforts of existing offerings. Also included is a recommendation to develop a pilot program seeking to leverage the emergence of remote work to help military spouses and partners secure local employment. Under this concept, local firms with “full remote” options could be paired with well-qualified trailing spouses and partners who could begin their employment in person and transition to remote work upon moving to their next assignment.
1. Grow and enhance existing Military Matters programs
- Through the Wichita Falls Talent Partnership, increase advocacy efforts among local employers to promote the benefits of hiring military veterans and family members; continue to share opportunities with the Sheppard Airman & Family Readiness Center and other relevant base resources
- Continue programming for military spouses and partners, including Hidden Gems and Sheppard MSPN; establish increased goals for program participation
- Through the Talent Partnership, seek opportunities to retain international personnel and families stationed at SAFB upon the conclusion of their military service
2. Create an enhanced multi-faceted promotional campaign for Military Matters programs
- Work with the Talent Partnership, SAFB officials, and other partners to develop a multi-channel promotional campaign targeted at military-affiliated talent
- Develop a video series and social media campaign that features “success stories” of companies and military-affiliated talent
- Work with SAFB leadership to identify potential enhancements for promoting Military Matters programs through on-base advertising, e-mail lists, etc.
- Evaluate the use of outdoor advertising and posters, etc. in businesses adjacent to the base
- Develop channel-specific metrics to track campaign success and adjust programming
3. Pilot an “in-person to remote” hiring program for military spouses and partners
- Work with Wichita Falls firms with full remote work policies to identify military spouses and partners who can work in an in-person job while stationed in Wichita Falls and transition to remote work upon moving to the next assignment
- Prioritize the recruitment of individuals whose spouses and partners are near the end of their military careers; develop resources to offer “return bonuses” to program participants who move back to Wichita Falls on a full-time basis
4. Advocate for military-friendly hiring policies
- Work with the Chamber, SMAC, and other partners to advocate at the state and national level for policies that support increased hiring of military-affiliated talent