Writer: Jerrica DuBois
2 min read July 2022 — As more residents and businesses head to the metroplex, local chambers of commerce are taking note and are looking for ways to help manage the growth. Invest: spoke with the leaders of some of North Texas’ most prominent local chambers about the needs of the business community as the region continues to grow and how they are acting as strategic partners in facilitating these needs.
Rick Ortiz, President & CEO, Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
One thing that motivated me to take this role is that we develop programs to help Hispanic-owned businesses that are in underserved communities. We help startup businesses and we help them understand compliance, permits and capacity building. One of the biggest things we accomplished in the first 10 years was to develop and continue a pilot program in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation. This program established a Small Business Transportation Resource Center because transportation and infrastructure are big drivers of the economy. In 2007, we launched the Bonding Education Program, which was a game changer for us. If you aren’t bondable and insurable, then chances are you aren’t going to be working in some crucial areas. We help educate and develop these relationships in a multiweek cohort class. We launched a partnership called “The ESL Entrepreneurship Program,” which is geared to helping startups and businesses that are just getting off the ground. We partnered with them because we know many businesses have language as a barrier. The program allows them to get a certificate in entrepreneurship. They learn the financial side, as well as other areas that will be helpful to their business. Also, we are finalizing our strategic plan with a focus on access, education, training and advocacy. Our goal is to connect more businesses with suppliers and help them to establish a network that will help them succeed.
Kelle Marsalis, President & CEO, Plano Chamber of Commerce
DFW is an interesting region. We have five cities with over 250,000 in population, and several more over 200,000. So, we’re a region of large cities, which makes us a little bit of an interesting metro. Collin County specifically has very high growth, and Plano has been the leader for quite a while in Collin County, especially when it comes to jobs and growth.
Our chamber focuses much of our work on advocacy and pro-business policies. It is our mission to protect and maintain this environment which allows companies to do business with ease. We advocate on behalf of the business community in several different ways, but they’re very business-focused and, therefore, very focused on supporting talent. All the chambers are also getting more involved on the social side of advocacy than before.
Michelle Green-Ford, President & CEO, Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce
There are so many different companies, organizations and people coming into this area, and that brings different expectations. Individuals that come from a different part of the US may have differences in terms of what they want to see in products, services, entertainment and more. Everything from our health and wellness to hospitality will have to be reassessed to better understand what our residents want and need. The most important thing is that it is no longer business as usual, and we should ask ourselves how we can continue to make this region a place that people want to be.
The Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber has been here for 40 years, and we are positioned on the southside of Fort Worth. Most of our members used to live in this area. Now, our community has grown to include the entire metroplex. We had to shift our mindset and move from a 10-mile radius into a larger region. We become what is needed by our community, and we understand that there are individuals with different needs throughout and we must grow to accommodate them.
Ken Malcolmson, President & CEO, North Dallas Chamber of Commerce
We see two main challenges in the region. First, there is a substantial north-south divide in the City of Dallas. 85% of our city’s tax revenue comes from north of the Trinity River, yet two-thirds of our geography is south of the river. If we don’t fix the tax-based imbalance, those living in the northern part will be taxed out of their homes and businesses. We must promote more balanced growth.
Secondly, the Dallas-Fort Worth area comprises 17 cities with over 100,000 people each. Every city has its own ecosystem and economic needs, and we compete against each other for talent, people, corporations and everything else. Houston has the Houston Partnership, an umbrella organization that covers the entire marketplace. When they go to Austin to lobby for pro-business issues, they can speak with one voice. However, when our region goes to Austin, we speak with many voices because each city has its own needs. That is one of our big challenges, bringing people together and ensuring that we compete more collaboratively.
For more information, visit:
opens in a new windowhttps://www.gdhcc.com/
opens in a new windowhttps://www.planochamber.org/
opens in a new windowhttps://fwmbcc.org/
opens in a new windowhttps://ndcc.org/