David Berzina, head of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce for 12 years until his resignation in August 2016, has joined the Fort Worth staff of JLL as a vice president. JLL is a Fortune 500 professional services firm specializing in real estate and investment management.
Berzina set up his own economic development consulting firm, InsightsEDC, after leaving the Fort Worth chamber. There are only a few firms he would be willing to trade that for, he said, and JLL is the leader in his mind.
“Working in three states and with chambers of commerce, I got to deal with all sorts of real estate firms and JLL was clearly the cream of the crop,” Berzina said. “When you get an opportunity to work with those individuals and that team – a Fortune 500 company – it’s something that I didn’t see coming in the past year and I’m just really excited about it.”
Berzina has more than 27 years of experience in global and domestic business recruitment and retention, regional marketing, workforce development, strategic planning, legislative advocacy and public policy development, and governmental entity planning and zoning.
“David is an outstanding addition to JLL,” Todd Burnette, managing director of JLL Fort Worth, said in the announcement. “With our full platform of services and team of industry experts at his disposal, he will do great things for our clients and the firm.”
JLL Fort Worth and Berzina worked together on several incentive packages for clients during his time at the chamber, including an incentive package for Bell Helicopter. Berzina also was involved in recruit Facebook and GE Manufacturing to the area.
“With GE, the relocation marked the first location for GE to build trains outside Pennsylvania in 100 years. As for Facebook, anytime you work on a billion-dollar-plus deal when the company is the new IBM or the new GM, that’s what I think Facebook is,” Berzina told the Fort Worth Business Press in August 2016.
Before joining the Fort Worth Chamber in March 2004, Berzina served in management and CEO capacities for chambers of commerce and economic development organizations in Texas, Michigan and Louisiana for 16 years.
He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He is a graduate of the Institute for Organizations Management at the University of Delaware and holds the designation of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) from the International Economic Development Council.
At JLL he will provide in-depth knowledge and insights to JLL’s client base, including site selection, economic development strategy and incentive negotiation, the firm said.
Developing deals is all about relationships, Berzina said.
“You talk to the people you know, you talk to people who know people you know, and you go out and prospect, you pound the pavement, you make phone calls,” he said, “and then you’ve got your own book of business so to speak, the people you’ve worked with over the years.
“It’s who you know and how you treat the people you know and what their needs are and do you have the skill sets or the platforms to answer those needs,” he said. “That’s why it’s going to be interesting for me to have this tremendous, huge, globally recognized firm to work for. I’ve never worked for a big firm, so I’m really looking forward to starting out at the top with these guys because they are the best.”
During his economic development career, Berzina has been responsible for more than 26 million square feet of construction, $6.3 billion in capital investment, 35,000 jobs and more than $1.5 billion in annual payroll, JLL said.
“JLL is committed to ensuring our clients in Fort Worth achieve their ambitions,” said Jeff Staubach, president of JLL’s South Central Region. “The strength of that commitment comes from our leadership, and David’s addition reaffirms our dedication to our clients throughout North Texas.”
Berzina is not sad at all about giving up the dream of his own business because of the expanded opportunity and reach that JLL offers.
Berzina and his wife, Kim, have two children, 17-year-old Chris and 11-year-old Brooke.
“We talked and they’re very excited and I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m excited to begin this new adventure.”
JLL traces its lineage to a London auctioneer, Richard Winstanley, who set up shop in 1783. In 1999, Jones Lang LaSalle formed as a result of a merger and in 2014, the company became JLL.