Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce launches new strategy for economic development

Robert Allen

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce announced a bold new strategy on Tuesday to carry out its goal of recruiting and attracting new businesses.

After several months of research and analysis, the chamber’s executive board announced the establishment of the Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership, a 501 (c )(6), which will manage business recruitment and attraction efforts separately from other functions of the chamber.

The new economic development initiative will be led by Robert Allen, president and CEO of the Austin-based Texas Economic Development Corp. He will begin his new job in Fort Worth on April 3.

“Getting someone the caliber of Robert Allen to spearhead the economic development efforts for Fort Worth is a tremendous boost for our city,” said Rosa Navejar, chair of the chamber’s executive board.

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“There is no one in Texas that has a better perspective, better relationships, and [more] proven results than Robert,” Navejar stated.  “It was imperative that we hire the best and the brightest in our state to lead this effort for Fort Worth.”

Navejar said other cities that have previously separated economic development efforts from other chamber functions have had great success with the approach.

“We think it could be a game-changer for us,” she told the Fort Worth Business Press. “Both creating the change and bringing in new leadership will make us more competitive. Once we become more competitive, we will be more successful and that will bring more investment.”

The chamber’s action came a month Brandom Gengelbach resigned as president and CEO of the organization. Shortly before his departure, the chamber announced results of a study that touted its success in bringing 72 economic development projects and 11,400 jobs to the Fort Worth area in the last few years.

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Chamber leaders said Allen would be able to take economic development efforts to a higher level.

“This move is essential for our city to gain a competitive edge in economic development,” said Hillwood President Mike Berry, who is serving as interim president and CEO of the chamber.

“We’ve had our successes, but there is still tremendous opportunity for us to bring growing, vibrant businesses and a diverse range of high-paying jobs to the Fort Worth area,” Berry stated. “To truly focus our efforts, we need an experienced leader with unparalleled economic development experience at local, state, and national levels.” 

With deep roots in Texas, Allen, a former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Greg Abbott, has been responsible for promoting economic development, business recruitment and job creation across the state since 2017.

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“In my role with TxEDC, I have met with companies from across the country and every corner of the globe and I’ve learned what they are looking for,” Allen said.

“I can confidently tell you Fort Worth holds tremendous promise for companies looking to establish or relocate their business,” Allen stated. “Having spent the better part of the past decade focused on driving economic development at a statewide level, Fort Worth must be nimble and proactive when it comes to developing reasonable, responsible growth.”

Navejar said growing the number of Fort Worth office and professional jobs is an important priority.

“There will be a focus on office jobs because office jobs are needed,” she said. “We need a balance between office and manufacturing jobs but we also have to make sure new jobs are compatible with the businesses and industries that are already here.”