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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Amazon and Fort Worth: Chamber’s economic development director talks about the decision

The Dallas Regional Chamber led the DFW Region’s unified response to Amazon’s HQ2 opportunity. The DRC worked closely with the Fort Worth Chamber and dozens of regional economic development partners, elected officials, community leaders, and the State of Texas, the Dallas Regional Chamber organized and delivered a comprehensive and compelling bid.

“This was a unique chance to reinforce with Amazon — and the world — the many reasons DFW has been so successful in attracting companies, jobs, and individuals seeking a wonderful quality of life in one of the most affordable places in the nation,” said Dale Petroskey, CEO and president of the Dallas Regional Chamber.

The Fort Worth Business Press spoke with Brandom Gengelbach, executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce about the Amazon decision.

FWBP: Do you have an idea where this area – Fort Worth in particular – might have fallen short compared to the sites selected? If so, what does this area need to work on for the next opportunity?

Gengelbach: We didn’t get that information from Amazon, but I think the access to elected officials in D.C. was appealing to Jeff Bezos, as well as the access to talent. Beyond incentives, we must continue to improve our strong business environment, including infrastructure, transit, public education funding, and a welcoming culture that respects all. These are things North Texas chambers of commerce will be advocating for in the upcoming state legislative session.

FWBP: Alternatively, what were this area’s strong points? Where did we excel?

Gengelbach: The same places we always do: [Dallas Fort Worth International Airport], central U.S. location, easy international access, labor availability, no state income tax, affordable cost of living, great weather, quality of place, workforce availability of metro area’s 7+ million people.

FWBP: Where does this leave this area in terms of economic development?

Gengelbach: We’re stronger by working together and we’re in a great position. Making the top 20 list validates that DFW has what it takes to be a contender for headquarters project. We have a more robust repository of information about the region than we previously had. We’ve been using information about sites, workforce and education for numerous recruiting and expansion prospects all year. The Chamber has 54 project proposals in the pipeline now, and expect more now that Amazon has made its decision public and others may have been holding off.

FWBP: What is the takeaway for the business community? What should they do?

Gengelbach: Engage with the Chamber to be at the table with us as we decide how to go forward in marketing Fort Worth, developing talent, supporting entrepreneurs and advocating for business-friendly public policy.

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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.

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