Negative population growth in Wichita Falls is “embarrassing,” says Chamber of Commerce CEO

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) There’s been a lot of change in Wichita Falls recently, a significant amount being focused on economic development and growth.

However, compared to bigger cities in Texas, as far as population growth, Wichita Falls has not done very well.

“How embarrassing,” Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & CEO Henry Florsheim said in a recent Facebook post.

It had to do with his recent attending of the Texas Economic Council, during which it was revealed, compared to the top 25 metro areas in Texas, the City of Wichita Falls had a negative population growth of .01% between 2010 and 2018.

“Those were estimates, but it opened up a big conversation about how do you fix that,” Florsheim said.

Florsheim said seeing those numbers, coming from the U.S. Census Bureau and then fixing the problem, isn’t an easy one-step solution.

“There’s a certain type of person that thinks: ‘Well, you need more jobs’ but, our unemployment rate is 2.6%,” Florsheim said. “And so, the question is… we’ve got to focus not only on what people want in a city, but what do companies want.”

Some took exception to Florsheim’s comment; but Florsheim asked: What else would you call it?

“There’s no reason for me to sugar-coat things. This community should be stronger and I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Florsheim said. “We’ve got the right strategies in place.”

Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana said as the city’s leader, he can understand the frustration.

“He was poking the community saying these are the communities that made the investments and they see growth. When we continue not to make investments in ourselves, you won’t see that growth,” Santellana said.

Santellana and Florsheim agree that the recent tax ratification election was a step in the right direction, helping to improve the condition of WFISD schools, hoping to keep families here.

They add though, there’s still much more work to be done. Florsheim also said the most up to date population information will come soon by way of the 2020 Census.

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