WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As they do each year, local organizations went before the 4A Board seeking funding, but this trip to the economic development corporation looks slightly different thanks to COVID-19.
The Sheppard Military Affairs Committee, Downtown Wichita Falls Development and Chamber of Commerce each help with economic growth in the city.
The typical annual request of the SMAC is $150,000, and the committee aims to build relationships between the base and the community.
“Under the economic conditions, our campaign pledges have been a little bit slow coming in, but we’re doing okay, and with this funding from the city and from the other government entities, public entities, we’re able to maintain our focus,” SMAC President Glen Barham said.
It was $110,000 Downtown Wichita Falls Development was after which is atypical ask from the organization after shifting some focus due to losing funds from events.
“Downtown has changed a lot throughout the COVID process, but the positive of it is construction and touring properties and the true economic development side has not slowed down—it’s actually increased,” Downtown WF Development Director Jana Schmader said.
The Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce sought more than $1 million from the board for its economic development budget.
Funds trickle down from sales tax revenue checks to the 4A Board, then partially on to the chamber.
“We actually held off on a couple positions that we’re budgeted towards the start of the year because when COVID hit, we didn’t want to get in a situation where sales tax collections took a dive, and there wasn’t available funds afterwards to continue those positions,” WF Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Henry Florsheim said. “Our budget request looks very similar to last year with just some slight increases and expenses.”
All three are adapting requests in a climate of uncertainty to best grow the Wichita Falls economy.
“Just under 63% of our goal has been pledged, but typically we get those pledges in six weeks versus six months.”SMAC President Glen Barham
“There’s no manual, and there hasn’t been so we just kinda went back to that grassroots effort of how we’ve built downtown over the last 20 years.”Downtown WF Development Director Jana Schmader
“If we don’t spend it all, we pay it back at the end of the year, so it was easy for us fiscally to run alongside our audit.”WF Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Henry Florsheim
They’re all working to find the funding to continue driving the city’s economy in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis.
The 4A Board approved the funding requests from all.