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Education Chamber launches economic development campaign

Chamber launches economic development campaign

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce launched a new campaign to raise an additional $500,000 and increase awareness of its economic development efforts Monday. Now redubbed Forward Fort Worth, the new campaign will have an annual budget of $1.5 million, up from $1 million. The chamber launched the new program during a lunch at the Fort Worth City Club where business leaders like businessman Ed Bass and BNSF Chairman and CEO Matt Rose, chamber officials and Mayor Betsy Price discussed the importance of economic development to the city. Price, Bass and Rose will be campaign co-chairs of the Forward Fort Worth campaign. The increased funding will be used primarily to increase work force initiatives along with international recruitment, according to David Berzina, executive vice president for economic development for the chamber. The Forward Fort Worth budget will break down into five parts, according to the chamber. • 39 percent, or $590,000 for domestic recruitment • 21 percent or $320,000 for talent attraction and development/education • 15 percent or $220,000 for existing industry • 14 percent or $210,000 for research • 11 percent or $160,000 for international recruitment The funds for these economic development programs are raised privately, not with public dollars, chamber officials noted. Since the Fort Worth Chamber began economic development work in 1989, it has influenced more than 1,100 business relocations or expansions creating about 250,000 jobs, according to the organization. Berzina pointed out that several cities that compete with Fort Worth have much larger economic development budgets. Tulsa’s economic development budget is about $3.5 million and Austin’s is over $4 million, he said. Price, who just returned from an international trip to South America, noted the interest in Fort Worth in international markets. “There’s real progress being made in China, Australia, Brazil, Peru – even in Peru people were really interested – those are major emerging markets for us and we’ve come a long way,” said Price.  

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