WF Chamber optimistically moving forward after bond election

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce is working hard to move the city forward after six of seven bond propositions failed on May 5 for numerous city projects.

On Friday the chamber's board met to discuss the city's future following the vote.

C.E.O. Henry Florsheim said it was a very positive meeting about their next step.

He said they are excited to implement their new strategic plan, and the city needs to capitalize on its current momentum.

Florsheim wasn't surprised the bond propositions failed.

"There were so many different reasons people had stated they were not going to support one, or more, or all of the initiatives," Florsheim said. "So that's what happened."

Now that the vote has passed, he said it's time for the Chamber of Commerce to regroup.

"We've really got to step back as a community and say okay if we do want to move forward if we do want to make sure we don't start shrinking, how do we do that," Florsheim said. "Because those propositions obviously were not the way to make it happen."

The chamber is about to begin implementation of a strategy that an outside group spent nearly a year drafting, something done well before the bond.

"We'll start moving forward on things like new modern school facilities, talent partnerships to create more workers out of our existing citizens, and an entrepreneurial makers space," Florsheim said.

They will do that by creating action teams this summer that will help implement each catalyst identified by the group.

Some of those catalysts include a live-work-play downtown, improving schools, and creating a hub for entrepreneurial jobs.

"Some of the items in the election could have helped us achieve some of the plans and goals sooner," Florsheim said. "But the plan is the plan."

Florsheim said he was disappointed by the results, but said it didn't scare him away.

"My wife and kids and I love Wichita Falls and are here for the long run," he said. "I've got full support from our leadership at the chamber and we're working together on long-term plans to make this a better city where we can attract more business too."

He believes Wichita Falls needs to capitalize on the great things about the city to create a great city.

"It's just a practical matter that at some point you've got to replace facilities," Florsheim said. "You have to. And great communities figure out ways to do that. We haven't gotten there yet."

He said the chamber will continue to push forward on their economic development efforts and being the voice of the business community like they've always done.

Florsheim said the community is in trouble if they don't address school needs after voting no on the city bond propositions.

He added he loves the people in Wichita Falls, but some long-term decisions are going to have to be made about what type of city Wichita Falls wants to become.

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