Noted Economist Analyzes Future of Wichita Falls

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX) -- In the last two decades, the population of Wichita Falls has stayed steady but that's not necessarily a good thing. 
 
That was part of the conversation between some city leaders at Midwestern State University with a noted Texas economist. As city leaders look at the future potential for the city, Thursday's discussion brings in new strategies for economic growth.
 
After years in business here at home, Chantex Manufacturing is once again looking to expand and offer more jobs. Co-owner Ray Roberts says he's grateful for the changes coming around.
 
"We're just a small mom and pop shop just about eight months ago in the city of Wichita Falls and the good lord has helped us get here," Roberts said. "The company as a whole, we're just truly blessed to be in this position that we're in." 
 
The Wichita Falls-based company is expanding for a second time, opening up 20 more jobs to the community. It's 4A funds from the city that's helped them grow.
 
Economist Dr. Ray Perryman traveled from Waco to Wichita Falls to look at the economic forecast in this area. 
 
"You already have both the 4A and 4B sales tax in Wichita Falls, which gives you a lot of flexibility," Perryman said. "You have some community leaders now who are wanting to look into the future, see how the world has changed and how they might adapt to those changes."
 
Dr. Perryman says Wichita Falls has a rich history in the oil and gas industry but he says even with technological advances. That industry is staying steady, much like the city's population.
 
"If you look at the long history, if you look at the 20 year history of Wichita Falls, the population hasn't changed much and the size of the workforce hasn't changed much," Perryman said.
 
Chamber of Commerce CEO and president Henry Florsheim says that the revitalization of downtown is a step in that direction and agrees  the city needs to be able to recruit more industry
 
"We got to focus on workforce development and that doesn't just mean training. It does mean the Career Education Center and using Vernon College and MSU for example but it also means building that community where people want to be," Florsheim said.
 
During the discussion, it was agreed that the city must bring in more industries that are not only fitting but profitable.
 
We got the major pieces that we need here and if some of them are struggling, we're working on them." 
 
Florsheim says getting an economic perspective from someone outside of Wichita Falls will help local leaders look closer into the challenges and opportunities the city has as they continue to plan ahead.

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