2 min read July 2022 — In an interview with Invest:, Beth Bowman, president and CEO of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and the Irving Economic Development Partnership, talked about how the Chamber and Partnership has worked with its member-investors to adapt to the new normal in the wake of the pandemic. Bowman shared what makes the region unique and attractive to new businesses and some of the services the Partnership provides.
What have been some highlights or milestones for the Chamber over the last year?
When you look at North Texas, Irving is in the middle of everything. We’ve become known today as the “Headquarters of Headquarters”. Seventy-three percent of our community’s tax base is from the commercial sector, so we are a city built for business and so much more. Las Colinas is one of our two master plan communities within Irving. It is really our central business district with various amenities for residents and visitors.
The Chamber itself persevered throughout the pandemic and saw many investors and
companies within the community return to the office, showing their confidence regarding safety. We made it through a legislative session with a 85% success rate of our outlined legislative priorities including securing economic development tools and workforce development programs. We were also able to continue recruiting companies to Irving and supporting those that expanded. That includes 32 “wins” resulting in more than 5,300 new and retained jobs, $306 million in capital investment and securing more than 2.7 million square feet of space. We’ve had better years but I believe our best days are ahead.
What do members look for in terms of the services you offer?
Our member-investors are looking at us to be conduits to conversations with our public officials, ensuring we are reducing legislative barriers to doing business in Texas. They are reaching out to us to make sure we are tackling labor shortages and supply chain setbacks as well as inflation and to be conduits regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Irving is one of the most diverse cities in the nation and we are proud of that, but we need to continue to work on inclusivity.
Small business support and our retention efforts are also critical. With the help of 60 volunteers, we were able to personally visit 1,000 small businesses in the community on Valentine’s Day to say thank you for being here and to leave them with a resource kit. It is the third year we’ve deployed this program to learn more about specific small business challenges, to offer advice and help connect them with local resources and tools to aid in their business success. And also to share the love and say thank you.
What are some of the unique elements of the North Texas economy?
When businesses come here to invest, they are investing in a diverse, qualified workforce, and we’re proud to say we’re the second most culturally diverse city in the United States.
For the past 17 years, the City of Irving has contracted with the Chamber for economic development services. We consistently hear our one-stop-shop approach to economic development is a huge advantage. We have industry speaking with industry and the Chamber as a conduit.
We’re also very fortunate to have a pro-business mayor and council. The business community wants to control its destiny and that is possible in Irving at the county and state levels as officials are working to make sure businesses have the necessary tools to be successful.
What legislation are you watching?
We want to make sure that Texas remains competitive from a diversity, equity and inclusion standpoint and not instilling unwelcoming regulations. This is for the focus of keeping Texas competitive for all. We continue to listen and do our best to anticipate the needs of the future.
What is your outlook for Irving-Las Colinas?
Moving forward, we are in the recovery and rebuilding phase as it relates to the pandemic. The North Texas area is really a leader in that. The hybrid work environment is going to remain fluid and is really like a quilt that requires a unique patchwork as there is not a one-size-fits-all answer for every company.
We will continue to meet our customers where they are. We want to make sure the supply chain remains resilient and active so people can get the supplies they need and projects done on time.
We’ll remain laser-focused on building a skilled-workforce through fostering partnership between our secondary and higher education institutions and our business-industry, as well as continuing to support state and federal resources to be used for workforce development.
We have over 20 million square feet of class-A office space, so it is also mission critical for us to keep that leased and occupied and for employees to be invested in Irving-Las Colinas. We are in a new norm where flexibility is required for businesses to stay afloat. We trust the American Dream and that entrepreneurs will continue to reinvent themselves to meet consumers where they are.
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