Objective: Ensure that Wichita Falls’ programs, tools, and investments in business attraction activities and assets are optimized for export-oriented job growth.
Economic diversification was a major theme to emerge from the input process. Stakeholders in Wichita Falls strongly desire a wider range of business activity and employment opportunities that can raise levels of prosperity and create opportunities that will appeal to talented individuals. At present, Wichita Falls’ economy is heavily concentrated in government and services. By contrast, Wichita Falls has relatively low levels of employment in “export-oriented” sectors that bring new wealth into the community by selling goods and services to other markets.
Business attraction represents one way that a community can grow jobs in export-oriented sectors. In Wichita Falls, the Chamber carries out business attraction on behalf of its community partners. Recent efforts have brought in new companies such as Clayton Homes and Pamlico Air, which together could lead to $50 million in investment and more than 550 new jobs. Input participants said they would like to see more business attraction “wins” in the coming years.
This Key Initiative focuses on maximizing the chances for business attraction success. This will entail maintaining a best-practice marketing program as well as addressing three key needs and opportunities that emerged from the input process: conducting a review of the community’s economic development incentives, advancing upgrades to the Wichita Falls Business Park, and identifying ways in which institutional partners can support economic growth. This latter opportunity is particularly important given MSU’s incorporation into the Texas Tech University System.
1. Maintain and enhance best-practice economic development marketing practices
- Continue to maintain excellent relationships with state economic development staff, site location consultants, and other individuals engaged in the lead-generation pipeline; seek feedback on marketing, messaging, and product development activities and make any needed adjustments
- Evaluate the return on investment of outbound marketing activities (e.g., trade missions and conferences) and seek out additional high-value opportunities
- Regularly update website and marketing materials to meet evolving industry standards
2. Commission a review of economic development incentives
- Retain an external firm with an understanding of state and national competitive realities to evaluate the full range of economic development incentives offered by the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation (WFEDC) and other relevant partners
- Consistent with the City of Wichita Falls’ 2021 Strategic Plan, consider post-pandemic opportunities such as remote and hybrid work and other emerging technologies
- Evaluate the desirability of establishing tax incentives and small grants to existing export-oriented companies in Wichita Falls that are increasing headcount and/or making capital investments (see Recommended Action #3 in Key Initiative #6)
3. Advance upgrades to the Wichita Falls Business Park
- Continue to implement WFEDC-funded improvements to the Business Park, including road widening and upgrades, water and sewer improvements, and landscaping
- Incorporate information about the upgrades and photos of improvements into economic development marketing materials
4. Work with institutional partners on catalytic economic opportunities
- Work with MSU to identify potential opportunities for adding new academic programs and/or research capacity that could support additional economic activity in Wichita Falls
- Pursue public-private partnerships at SAFB (see Key Initiative #8); seek to create new development sites with airport access