The 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 was expected to 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 was projected to translate into the loss of over 10 percent of the region’s manufacturing jobs.
TIP Strategies, as part of a team led by Freese & Nichols, assisted the City of Wichita Falls with the preparation of a defense diversification plan. The report outlined strategies to strengthen Wichita Falls’ primary economic development assets and promote economic diversification. To 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. Findings from these assessments laid the groundwork for a strategic plan to further diversify the economy and position the city to strengthen its role as a regional center. The plan, 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. The city council and its stakeholders have created specialized task forces to focus on issues and implement many of the recommended strategies. The three task forces are each focused on marketing and image development for the community, workforce issues, and creating a business improvement district and reviewing the building code downtown.