2 min read March 2022 — In an interview with Invest:, Brandom Gengelbach, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber, talked about the advancements the Chamber has made and some of the major lessons learned over the course of the pandemic. Gengelbach discussed how it is managing the region’s growth and shared advice for business owners looking to expand into Fort Worth.
What have been some major lessons learned over the course of the pandemic?
Going through difficult times either brings people together or tears them apart. For us, it was a challenge but it was very positive to see us come together in ways we hadn’t before. Healthcare systems are working closely with the business community, elected officials and among themselves more than ever before. It has also been an opportunity for businesses to readily adopt technology, innovation and creativity.
Moving forward, we will focus on leveraging technology for our members, recruiting new companies and creating solutions to problems. We have so many more opportunities thanks to technology, which has allowed us to pivot more toward data-centric benefits than what traditional chambers of commerce are used to. Members have adapted to this new technology as well and I believe that makes us more relevant and accessible.
What do you see as the greatest opportunities in regard to the area’s economic development?
We are really blessed to be here. The population growth happening in Fort Worth specifically is just mind boggling. I’ve been in markets before where a lot of time and effort was spent on business development. We have the opposite challenge here as so many people are interested in coming here. We are working to facilitate those businesses but it can be a strain on the bandwidth of the community. There is huge growth going on but the question is how we can leverage that growth to position Fort Worth with a diverse and well-supported infrastructure.
How is Fort Worth managing the influx of people to the region?
I think the supply chain needs to get caught up. Housing is going to continue to be a challenge because of the people competing for homes. That is creating the need for more homes, which of course depends on the supply chain and the cost of materials. We have an amazing infrastructure that continues to grow but we have to stay on top of it.
How would you describe the area’s ability to meet workforce demands?
I think population growth is driving all businesses. This directly translates into availability of workforce, especially when that population growth is of working age. Workforce is a challenge for everyone so going to the areas to which people are moving pays off when looking for talent.
What advice would you give someone looking to open a business or expand into Fort Worth?
Call me, call the Chamber. There is no need to be shy about asking for advice when it comes to making investments. People can call us and we will be there to answer questions and provide guidance. We are also very blessed to have a diverse population, topography and culture.
How has the process of connecting graduates to businesses been?
There definitely is a challenge when it comes to understanding the benefit of working from home versus working in person. The older generation is focused on the value of working in an office, people in the middle, like myself, can see the value of both styles, while the younger generation wants to be all remote. We are encouraging employers to recognize this shift that is happening and that changes should happen within organizations. Connections don’t have to be made in front of the water cooler.
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