Plan for long-term economic development being prepared

Fort Worth launches its first economic development strategic planning initiative this month, a document that’s expected to provide guidance and strategies across the community for the next five years.

TIP Strategies, with offices in Austin and Seattle, won a request-for-proposal bid process against 11 other companies. The study is funded through a $350,000 allocation from the city’s general fund.

TIP Strategies was selected after an extensive review and interview process and was chosen based on its experience and quality of the team assembled, said Robert Sturns, director of the city’s Economic Development Department. The company has worked with more than 300 organizations in 37 states and four countries. It has engaged Fregonese Associates, JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle) and Isaac Barchas, director of the Austin Technology Incubator, to assist with the Fort Worth project.

The plan will outline a set of strategic initiatives to recruit new businesses to the area, attract and retain talent, develop the local workforce, and expand existing industry and business sectors, Sturns said. The document also will outline approaches to promote investment in targeted areas and enhance the city’s quality of life.

“This plan will be geared toward implementation as we seek to enhance the economic vitality and attractiveness of the City of Fort Worth, as well as strengthen its status in the North Texas region and as one of America’s most livable cities,” Sturns said.

“A successful economic development strategy requires significant stakeholder engagement. Meaningful opportunities for engagement will be available, including one-on-one interviews, issue-specific roundtables, town hall meetings, online surveys and social media.”

The report from TIP Strategies is expected by late summer and will guide decisions on the fiscal year 2018 budget, including additional resource allocation, staffing and programming. Longer-term strategies will be worked into future budget requests, Sturns said.

“Our goal is to have specific, defined metrics that will gauge how successful we are as a community in moving the needle forward on commercial investment value, wages, corporate attraction, workforce development, small-business development and revitalization activities,” he said.

At various stages of the process, document drafts will be provided to the Executive Committee and City Council. The schedule calls for the City Council to review the final document in late summer with implementation to begin immediately after approval.

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