WF Chamber reveals new strategic plan at Falls Future Forum

Hundreds of people attended the 2018 Falls Future Forum at the MPEC. (Source: KAUZ)
Hundreds of people attended the 2018 Falls Future Forum at the MPEC. (Source: KAUZ)
Updated: Apr. 19, 2018 at 6:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce laid out a new strategic plan to improve a handful of areas Thursday at the Falls Future Forum.

Nine months ago the Chamber hired Market Street Services, not the grocery store, to come in and do an economic study of Wichita Falls that they could use as a blueprint going forward. That has now been revealed and the Chamber is excited about the future.

"The younger generation is watching," C.E.O. of Dexter Learning in downtown Wichita Falls, Michael Olaya said. "And we're looking to see that the city is going to invest in the future of this city."

Olaya is also the founder of Dexter Learning. He said when he graduated from Rider High School he couldn't get out of town fast enough.

But some of the recent momentum encouraged him to come back and he's hoping more do the same.

"It's actually growing into a real community that you can live and thrive in," Olaya said. "And for people like me that have options in other cities, it actually starts to make sense."

"He and some of his colleagues have realized that if they moved to Austin or Seattle, they get lost in a sea of people just like them," C.E.O. of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce, Henry Florsheim said. "But here they have a chance to stand out."

Florsheim said Market Street Services' economic study on the city shows much more has to happen to achieve that goal.

"Downtown revitalization is one of the keys," Florsheim said. "We've got to do more to attract people here and give people a reason to want to stay here."

The study revealed lacking education, poor quality of life, and negative perceptions of the city as a few reasons why Wichita Falls isn't growing.

Florsheim said those things need to be addressed to attract more people like Olaya and avoid a shrinking population.

He believes one way to do that is vote yes on seven bond propositions on the ballot May 5.

"If we decide to vote yes on Proposition G for example, we will streetscape our downtown and make it more attractive and welcoming for people to come," Florsheim said. "Same with the strategy. If we decide we're going to do it, we will change this city."

"Part of the reason that we located our business here is because of all this momentum around downtown," Olaya said. "And regardless of if these bonds pass, the momentum will still carry on. But it would be a catalyst and fuel on the fire."

Florsheim said that parts of the study can still be executed without those bond propositions passing, but it would be a lot harder and take much more time.

Florsheim said they are going to accomplish this new strategic plan no matter what happens with the bond propositions.

Two other goals in the plan they believe are important are an economic development program and a bicycle-friendly community.

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