While unemployment in Wichita Falls is technically down to 5 percent, the labor force is down as well. The question now becomes, how do we bring more jobs and companies to Texoma?
"We do need to attract higher wage jobs, said Mona Statser, the Executive Director of North Texas Workforce Solution, "and more skilled jobs because we do have an available workforce. We have training and a lot of good partners available to make that happen."
Statser said that there are a lot of restaurants and hotels in Wichita Falls, but most of those jobs are entry level, and don't pay much.
President of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce Henry Florsheim says there are higher-paying jobs being created.
"Quite a few in manufacturing, oil and gas, and then healthcare as well, explained Florsheim. "Those are some areas that we expect growth in over the coming year, which is a good thing because those jobs pay pretty good."
Florsheim said in the past month, the Chamber has attracted several businesses to move to Wichita Falls, including an Argentine manufacturing company who will use the Falls as their international headquarters.
In order to draw more companies in, however, you first need to develop a workforce-which is why a vibrant downtown area is so important.
"You either have to grow it yourself or you have to be a community that people want to live in, and they'll move to your place for that job. If they know that they like that community and that's why you have to have a good downtown," said Florsheim.
As for the big picture for the Falls...
"We're not happy with the way things are, but we feel like we're heading in the right direction, we have a lot of projects that we're working on in the coming year," Florsheim said.