Marie Balthrop, Wichita Falls City Clerk and Henry Florsheim, President/CEO of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce provided valuable information about several topics via Zoom. Being involved in the boards and commissions that govern your community is a recommendation of both the state & national LWV. Marie Balthrop joined our meeting to provide information about current and upcoming openings on WF boards and commissions as well as a great summary of what each entity is responsible for. More information can be found on the City of WF website: http://www.wichitafallstx.gov/1058/Boards-and-Commissions
Henry Florshiem discussed the impacts of COVID on the local business community and how the Chamber is responding. Since the beginning of the pandemic, unemployment in Wichita Falls has increased from less than 3% to over 11%. Mr. Florshiem reported that many other communities are experiencing unemployment in excess of 20% and WF's concentration of federal revenues helps insulate it from some economic forces. The Chamber is focusing heavily on supporting small businesses to make sure they are able to continue operating through heavy and often confusing restrictions and successfully rebound when restrictions end. The Chamber staff has helped businesses with their internet and social media presence and marketing efforts as those oft neglected aspects became increasingly critical under different distancing orders. He discussed the difficult decisions being faced by our local non-profits regarding fundraising and outreach efforts including the 2020 Hotter 'n Hell decision to go virtual. He also discussed how economic development has changed over the decades with the focus now being on building communities that people want to live in to attract and retain business and residents. Critical factors that potential transplants review are the quality of the school system and quality of life considerations.
Mr. Florshiem announced that the Chamber offices moved from an inaccessible area in the Hamilton Building to a location with street access at 900 8th Street, Suite 100, WF, TX 76301. The Chamber staff is proud to welcome visitors and residents in their new, updated space and is already seeing significantly increased foot traffic. If you find yourself in the area, swing by and see what the Chamber is up to as they strive to build a strong community through economic development and business support.