Wichita Falls (TX) – Defense Diversification Plan
ChallengeThe Wichita Falls’ regional economy has historically been driven by its government and energy sectors, and over the past 50 years the manufacturing sector has developed as the region’s third economic engine. Recent events, however, underscore the region’s need for further economic diversification. The 2005 round of the Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) process will likely result in an estimated loss of approximately 1,990 direct and indirect jobs from Sheppard Air Force Base (SAFB). In addition, the closure of two of the region’s manufacturing plants will result in the loss of over 10 percent of the region’s manufacturing jobs. In preparation for these losses, the City of Wichita Falls contracted TIP Strategies, an Austin-based economic development consulting firm, to assist the city in the preparation of a defense diversification plan. The resulting report outlined strategies to implement that will strengthen Wichita Falls’ primary economic development assets and promote economic diversification.
ApproachTo better understand the region, its challenges and opportunities, TIP conducted an economic and demographic assessment, an entrepreneurship assessment, and an industry cluster analysis. These assessments incorporated quantitative data obtained through an array of public and private data sources and qualitative data collected through a series of public input forums, interviews, focus groups, and surveys. The findings from these assessments laid the groundwork for a strategic plan to further diversify the economy of Wichita Falls and position the city to strengthen its roles as a regional center.
OutcomeThe plan, named Vision 20/20, identified five primary opportunity areas for the city: downtown, talent, business development, image, and special areas. The plan offered strategies and actions for capitalizing on each of these opportunities areas.
Following a public roll-out, the Wichita Falls City Council adopted the plan. In addition, the city council and its stakeholders have created specialized task forces to focus on issues and implement many of the recommended strategies. The task forces formed include one focused on marketing and image development for the community, another on workforce issues, and another on creating a business improvement district and reviewing the building code downtown.
Photo credit Roy Luck
Photo credit Roy Luck