From Austin to Fort Worth: Texas Economic Development Chief to Lead City’s New Business Attraction Efforts

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has taken significant steps to boost economic development for the city by creating the Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership. The newly-formed nonprofit will be headed by Texas economic development industry veteran Robert Allen, who was appointed as president.

The Fort Worth Chamber’s executive board revealed the formation of the Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership to drive business growth for the city.

The newly formed entity will be helmed by Texas economic development veteran Robert Allen, the FWC said in an announcement. Allen, currently president and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corporation based in Austin, will leave his statewide role to join the FWEDP on April 3.

The decision to launch the FWEDP comes after months of research and analysis conducted by the chamber’s board, the FWC said. The new 501(c)(6) nonprofit will focus on business recruitment and attraction.

‘A tremendous boost’ for Fort Worth

Fort Worth Chamber Chair Rosa Navejar expressed her confidence in Allen as the perfect fit for the position, citing his impressive expertise and accomplishments in the field.

“There’s no one in Texas that has a better perspective, better relationships, and proven results than Robert,” Navejar said in a statement. “Getting someone the caliber of Robert Allen to spearhead the economic development efforts for Fort Worth is a tremendous boost for our city.”

“He understands what sets Texas, and more importantly, Fort Worth, apart and what it will take for us to be competitive in the pursuit of bringing exceptional jobs to Fort Worth and the surrounding counties,” she added.

Allen was previously deputy chief of staff to Gov. Greg Abbott

Allen, a multi-generation Texan, has been responsible for promoting economic development, business recruitment, and job creation in the Lone Star State since 2017, the chamber said. Previously, he was the deputy chief of staff to Gov. Greg Abbott.

“In my role with TxEDC, I have met with companies from across the country and every corner of the globe and I’ve learned what they are looking for,” Allen said in a statement.

Under Allen, Texas’ business efforts have been notable, winning Site Selection magazine’s coveted Governor’s Cup for 11 consecutive years, which recognizes the nation’s top-performing state for business expansions and relocations.

Texas also has been selected as the “No. 1 state for business” 18 years running by Chief Executive magazine and the “No. 1 state for Fortune 500 corporate headquarters,” the chamber noted.

“Having spent the better part of the past decade focused on driving economic development at a statewide level, Fort Worth must be nimble and proactive when it comes to developing reasonable, responsible growth,” Allen said.

But, he notes, “I can confidently tell you Fort Worth holds tremendous promise for companies looking to establish or relocate their business.”

Building ‘a vibrant business community’

In partnership with the city, the Fort Worth Chamber led business attraction and recruiting efforts in addition to all the other chamber priorities and responsibilities.

Hillwood president Mike Berry, who serves as interim president and CEO of the FWC, says “many cities the size of Fort Worth have chosen to separate business recruitment activities from traditional chamber functions.”

Navejar said the chamber decided to focus and prioritize its efforts to have the most positive impact on and for the city’s business community.

“We looked at various models of how comparable cities drive business attraction and retention compared to Fort Worth,” Navejar said. “While chambers play an important role, the executive board is focusing the FWC’s activities on supporting local business through enlargement of business retention and expansion programs, workforce development, government advocacy, infrastructure and transportation efforts, and educational programs that promote a vibrant business community throughout Fort Worth.”

Focusing efforts to attract businesses

Berry said the move is essential for the city to gain a competitive edge in economic development.

“We’ve had our successes, but there is still tremendous opportunity for us to bring growing, vibrant businesses and a diverse range of high-paying jobs to the Fort Worth area,” Berry said in a statement. “To truly focus our efforts, we need an experienced leader with unparalleled economic development experience at local, state, and national levels.”

The chamber said the new entity will be funded by the business community, consisting of both current and new FWC investors. It will be governed by a separate board of directors composed of business and community leaders that are actively engaged in Fort Worth’s economic development.

The FWEDP will have a shared services agreement with the chamber for administrative, legal, HR, accounting, and marketing support. The WEDP and the FWC will work together on data sharing and branding strategy.

This story was updated with additional information about Robert Allen and the new FWEDP on March 15, 2023, at 12:15 p.m.

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