David Berzina, economic development champion for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce for the past 12 years, has resigned, Chamber officials announced Thursday, Aug. 25.
Though declining to specify potential employment opportunities, Berzina said he is considered several possible jobs.
“We are looking at an opportunity here in the Metroplex, as well as something out of state,” said Berzina, speaking for he and his family. Berzina said he was contacted about the potential job offers and that he was not proactively seeking other employment.
“I’ve been with the Chamber 12 years, and at some point, it’s hard to keep pushing the envelope after a certain point,” Berzina said of helping bring more firms to the city.
Bill Thornton, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, said the organization will launch a national search for a new head of economic development.
“We will be moving forward by immediately launching a national search for a new head of economic development as we approach our fall strategic planning process and as we look to the future of continued economic growth for Fort Worth,” Thornton said. “We are aligning our management structure to become even more focused, strategic and relevant as we look to engage new industries and growth companies.”
Thornton will oversee the five-person economic development team during the search for the new head of economic development in order to maintain the team’s momentum and ensure a smooth transition, the Chamber said in a news release.
Robert Sturns, economic development director at the City of Fort Worth, said Berzina’s resignation was unexpected.
“It was a surprise to us,” he said. “Obviously David is very well respected in the economic development community. Over the years that I’ve known him he’s had several opportunities that have come up that he has not pursued since. I wasn’t overly surprised that he had some different things on the table, but I was shocked by the announcement.”
Over the past 12 years, Berzina has worked with local, regional and state agencies to bring jobs and corporate headquarters to Fort Worth and North Texas. Among the companies that now have or continue to have significant operations in Fort Worth are Facebook, GE Manufacturing, Whirlpool Corp. and American Airlines.
Asked what deal holds most significant in his Chamber experience, and Berzina pointed to Facebook and GE Manufacturing.
“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 said.
Sturns said economic development in Fort Worth will remain a joint effort.
“I think the success that Fort Worth has had has always been the partnership between the city and the Chamber and the County and other entities, so I don’t foresee any big drop off in that aspect,” he said. “It’s a large-scale group effort to do a lot of the economic development we do here in the city.”
Berzina’s efforts have resulted in millions of square feet in new construction and billions in capital investment and annual payroll. He also has been recognized by the International Economic Development Council for his accomplishments in the industry.
“We want to thank David for his many years of service to the Fort Worth Chamber and community,” Thornton said. “We wish him well in his future endeavors.
Berzina has been key to Fort Worth’s current era of growth, Sturns said.
“David was a big part of what we’ve done,” said Sturns. “He’s done a lot of great work for us. It’s definitely a loss to the city, but I know David is a good guy, he’s a sharp guy and I know he’ll do well in whatever his next endeavors will be.”
Staff writers A. Lee Graham, Samantha Calimbahin and Editor Robert Francis contributed to this report.