Economic Development Action Team Updates

Economic Development Action Team Updates

Darren Leiker updated the group on the City’s role in streamlining the permitting process.  The Asst. City Manager has taken the lead on this.  They have had a focus on meeting with various industry sectors to get feedback and have addressed many of the main issues.  The City now provides pre-development meetings and checklists for businesses wanting to build and is redesigning the layout of the permits department to make it more accessible and accommodating.

Darren Leiker updated the group on the City’s role in streamlining the permitting process.  The Asst. City Manager has taken the lead on this.  They have had a focus on meeting with various industry sectors to get feedback and have addressed many of the main issues.  The City now provides pre-development meetings and checklists for businesses wanting to build and is redesigning the layout of the permits department to make it more accessible and accommodating.

Aerospace Manufacturing Target Market

One of the key target markets for Wichita Falls is aerospace manufacturing.  For the last four years, the Chamber has been working to bring these types of manufacturers to our area.  The Chamber’s website was created specifically for this purpose.

Economic Development Website –

Henry Florsheim described the more salient pages of the website:

  1. Incentives – a listing of offerings in our E.D. tool kit to lure companies here.
  2. Community Profile – A key document of accurate stats, indicators and data on our area.

Industrial Property Availability – A listing of land and buildings in our area suitable for business development

During the third meeting, Chairman Nick Schreiber introduced Travis Haggard, V.P. – Business Retention and Expansion; and Adrene Wike, Research Analyst, who gave a brief overview a recent Workforce Survey: 
• Survey was sent to manufacturing companies only: 1) to get high-level data for their employees and how they attract new employees, 2) help the companies to look inside their own practices and methodologies, 3) keep communication fluid with major employers here in town.

• Consisted of 11 questions. Average age of employee is 35-44 years with no company having employees in the 18-24 age range.

• Only 20% of the respondents gave bonuses to potential recruits.

• Information will be shared with the talent partnership group and see how it relates to working with the universities and Workforce Solutions and similar groups.

• Over half of the surveys were completed.
Top 4 needs:
– General labor
– Machinists
– Welders
– Engineers
-Chamber can work on recruiting these positions.

• Programs need to be developed to get kids in the local workforce.

Regarding the Talent Partnership Pipeline, Henry gave an update on the process of hiring that Director.  Hiring is anticipated by the end of the year.  The primary duties of the partnership will be creating a structured internship program, promoting internships with local employers, partnering with Sheppard AFB and working with our schools for longer-term programs.

Marketing Director, Katie Britt, has begun updating verbiage on the site and implemented Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to improve our search results.

Email campaign began January 21, 2019, in an effort to funnel more traffic to the website and generate more leads.

Kevin Pearson presented a list of Trade-shows he will be attending in 2019 and Katie has digital marketing planned to complement those efforts. Printed marketing collateral in the works as well. 

Synchronist Software added for tracking business needs. added to track businesses that are likely to expand.

Growing jobs in Wichita Falls: Economic Development

Advance programs and policies that improve the local business climate and give Wichita Falls the best chance to grow jobs and investment in the coming years.

A primary focus for this strategic planning process was the community’s desire to become more prosperous. This will require increasing and improving opportunities for employment.

Most individuals and households rely upon the availability of quality jobs to increase their standards of living. On a larger scale, wealth accumulates in regions when local business establishments “export” goods and services to other markets in the United States and beyond. So while every aspect of this Strategy can help make Wichita Falls more economically competitive in the long run, a holistic approach to economic development must also consider opportunities to grow jobs and investment sooner rather than later.

For decades, many communities and their economic development organizations have exclusively associated “economic development” with “business recruitment.” While the recruitment is an important component of an economic development program, it comprises only one-third of a “three-legged stool.”

In fact, employment growth is primarily driven by the other two legs of the stool – expansions of existing businesses and entrepreneurship. Successful communities now pursue a balanced approach that incorporates business recruitment, business retention and expansion (BRE), and support for new enterprises.

This portion of the strategic plan focuses on programs and policies that Wichita Falls can pursue to grow jobs and investment in the next five years. Additional opportunities to enhance entrepreneurial activity are addressed separately with the Makerspace initiative.


Attract and retain residents and businesses: This Catalyst focuses specifically on attracting and retaining businesses and ensuring a competitive overall business climate.

Increase prosperity for all residents: Creating an attractive environment for jobs and investment is critical to raising standards of living for residents in Wichita Falls.

Enhance the quality of life and quality of place: Business attraction and retention has an indirect yet major influence on community vibrancy.

Promote inclusivity and equity: Many businesses now recognize diversity and inclusion as core values that impact the bottom line; this Catalyst includes a Tactical Recommendation that seeks to create a business culture of inclusion and expand opportunities for all residents.

Improve internal and external perceptions of Wichita Falls: While business location decisions are influenced by many factors, a reputation as a “good place to do business” is a valuable asset.

Action Team

Nick Schreiber, SLA Architects
Lacey Morgan, Care Team
Glenn Barham
Sheppard Military Affairs Committee
Dick Bundy, Bundy, Young, Sims & Potter, Inc
Tony Fidelie, Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins & Mott
Henry Florsheim, Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce
Scott Poenitzsch, Horseshoe Bend Cellars Vineyard & Winery, Inc.
Stephen Santellana, City of Wichita Falls
Dr. Jeff Stambaugh, Midwestern State University – Dillard College
Kevin Pearson, Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce
Darron Leiker, City of Wichita Falls
Barry Donnell, Barry Donnell
Monica Wilkinson, Vernon College
Katie Britt, Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce

Identify Target Business Sectors & Marketing Program and Make Upgrades

Target industry has been identified as Aerospace Manufacturing. This initiative will be led by the Chamber, with Kevin Pearson in the driving role. Kevin has been actively targeting this industry since 2016.

• Update Economic Development Website ( with improved copy and content
• Develop quality print collateral promoting community and target sectors
• Curate tradeshows and other direct sales opportunities to ensure acceptable ROI’s
• Inbound marketing event to showcase community to site consultants or other key decision makers
• Work with Wichita Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) to recruit conferences and meetings that align with targeted sectors

Improve capabilities to track and respond to employer needs identified through business retention and expansion (BRE) activities


• Most best-practice BRE programs utilize specialized software to track and manage existing business and coordinate partner responses to identified opportunities and challenges. Wichita Falls has an established BRE initiative but lacks these important tools.
• Obtain specialized software (such as Synchronist or ExecutivePulse) to track BRE activities and assign and manage follow-up tasks for partners
• As tracking capabilities improve, work with economic development partners to identify and address consistent themes, challenges, etc. that emerge from BRE activities

Already in place:
The Chamber has a designated BRE staff member, Travis Haggard.

Formalize a streamlined permitting and "pre-construction" process for major relocations, expansions and renovations


• Develop a framework to formalize “one-stop” pre-construction meetings to help ease the regulatory process for major development and redevelopment projects; the City of Wichita Falls has previously offered these meetings on occasion
• Pre-construction meetings would convene representatives from all relevant government entities and departments to discuss project specifics and regulatory requirements and develop plans to work through any issues
• Continue quarterly meetings between the development community and key elected and department leaders from the City of Wichita Falls; leverage these discussions to develop the framework

Ensure that available sites and buildings are ready to accommodate end-users

• Competitive economic development projects frequently require sites or buildings that can be readied within a short amount of time; accordingly, communities must ensure that their real estate “product” is as ready as possible to accommodate new development and/or users
• Inventory conditions at key sites and buildings to ensure that they are ready to accommodate likely development
• Examine planning/zoning and other regulatory conditions, site access, environmental conditions, building condition, etc.
• For sites owned by the community’s 4A entity, the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation (WFEDC), invest in feasible upgrades as soon as possible to ensure that the site can accommodate a project working on a tight timeframe, thereby giving it the best chance of producing a positive return on investment for local taxpayers
• Seek the Texas Economic Development Council’s S.T.A.R certified site designation for one or more “shovel-ready” sites to help promote the most promising development opportunities in the community

Establish a diversity business council to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion

• Work with the Chamber and other public and private partners to form a council and encourage local firms to participate
• Develop and administer an annual workplace inclusivity survey to identify and measure local diversity and inclusion efforts; report findings in an annual report
• Establish an annual diversity summit to raise the profile of the community’s commitment to creating opportunities and increasing prosperity for all residents
• Work with council members, Leadership Wichita Falls, and others to increase diversity on local boards of directors

Align the community’s legislative agenda, public policies, and outreach programs with strategic economic development needs

• Many aspects of community and economic development are closely intertwined with matters of public policy at the local, state, and federal levels; accordingly, best-practice communities work cooperatively to craft public policy advocacy agendas that promote economic growth and community vibrancy and help advance the Catalysts in this Strategy
• Work collaboratively with the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce, the Sheppard Military Affairs Commission, and local, state, and federal partners to craft annual legislative agendas that support holistic economic development needs and allow the community to speak with one cohesive voice
• Given the relatively high concentrations of government employment in Wichita Falls, continue to maintain strong relationships with legislative delegations to ensure that the community is well-represented at the state and federal levels