Leaders of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce said businesses are amid an exciting and critical moment as they move past the pandemic.
Chamber President and CEO Brandom Gengelbach addressed nearly 400 attendees and hundreds watching virtually on Thursday during the chamber’s annual meeting at Dickies Arena. While 2020 was a year of survival for many businesses, new city leadership and huge population growth have brought new opportunities for economic growth, he said.
Fort Worth was the country’s second-fastest growing major city between 2019 and 2020 and is the 12th largest city in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau.
Gengelbach said despite the pandemic, the chamber boasted wins, including nearly 8,000 jobs created and more than $1.37 billion in investments.
He said a key to keep businesses in the city and attract new ones is for the chamber and its members to work together and develop different strategies than in the past, such as targeting companies and industries that are lacking in the city, connecting students with businesses and developing sports tourism.
“Together we have an opportunity to shape the future of Fort Worth in new and exciting ways,” Gengelbach said. “We just have to be willing to try new things.”
The meeting was the chamber’s first in-person event since the pandemic.
The in-person attendees, which were limited to the meeting’s more than 50 sponsors, brought together representatives from Baylor Scott & White, Bank of Texas, Visit Fort Worth, TCU and more.
The event included speeches from keynote Ozan Varol, a rocket scientist and bestselling author, chamber chair Marianne Auld and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker.
Parker said the city is moving full speed ahead in its economic development to make Fort Worth a world-class city and provide opportunities for all residents.
“This council is prepared to work alongside our private sector partners to position our city to be the next economic powerhouse,” she said.
The event also highlighted business leaders. Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health Resources, was awarded the Susan Halsey Executive Leadership Award. Berdan was awarded for guiding the health care company’s 24,000 employees through the past year’s health care obstacles.
Wabtec Corp. was honored with the Spirit of Enterprise Award. Wabtec, which manufactures equipment, systems and digital solutions for rail, transit, mining and more, was recognized for its charitable contributions to support local relief efforts during the February winter storm.