gtag('config', 'AW-762689157');

Workforce Solutions moving to Big Blue

Workforce Solutions North Texas (WSNT) will become one of the newest – and largest – tenants of the Big Blue building in downtown Wichita Falls.

Workforce Solutions provides services to employers and job seekers in 11 North Texas communities. It receives funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, through the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

Executive Director Mona Statser said began considering the move after a state legislative decision to incorporate vocational rehabilitative services under the TWC.

There were two vocational rehab service offices in the area – one in Graham and the other in Wichita Falls. The three employees from the Graham office moved in with WSNT at the end of July.

“We needed to move in together by September of this year,” Statser said. “There is a lot of stuff we have to do to get to that point.”

She said the lease at the current location of their board offices is up at the end of August, so they will be the first to make the move.

The movement of offices and where they locate is coordinated at the state level, Statser said.

After the Graham offices were moved, it was clear they would need more space to contain all the employees at the other vocational rehab location and WSNT offices.

Big Blue building owner Will Kelty, left, talks with Mona Statser and James Cunningham Tuesday in one of the spaces Statser’s Workforce Solutions North Texas will occupy later this month.

Big Blue building owner Will Kelty, left, talks with Mona Statser and James Cunningham Tuesday in one of the spaces Statser’s Workforce Solutions North Texas will occupy later this month.

Big Blue building owner Will Kelty, left, talks with Mona Statser and James Cunningham Tuesday in one of the spaces Statser’s Workforce Solutions North Texas will occupy later this month.1 of 9

Mona Statser, executive director of Workforce Solutions North Texas, enjoys the view from what will become her corner office on the eighth floor of Big Blue overlooking Park Central and downtown. Statser has never had a window in her office in her previous years of employment and will now have four.

Downtown office building icon First Wichita building, also known as Big Blue, will be home to Workforce Solutions North Texas by the end of the month.

Mona Statser, executive director of Workforce Solutions North Texas, talks about renovations with Will Kelty, owner of Big Blue, one of the most prominent office buildings in Wichita Falls. WSNT is moving its offices into the eighth floor of of the building at Eighth and Scott streets.

James Cunningham replaves a panel after working on an air conditioning unit in an office at Big Blue. Worlforce Solutions North Texas will be moving to the building by the end of the month.
Custom wallpaper in a former oil company headquarters in Big Blue harkens back to the 1960s. Renovations are underway for the new offices of Workforce Solutions North Texas.

Another office space to be occupied by Workforce Solutions North Texas in the Big Blue building downtown. Some spaces have a vintage feel with custom woodwork and others need total refurbishment.

The First Wichita building, also known as Big Blue, will be the new home of Workforce Solutions North Texas later this month. Renovation of approximately 3,000 square feet of office space is underway.

Maintenance technician James Cunningham displays a 1960s television antenna found in a cabinet of an office being renovated in Big Blue downtown. Workforce Solutions North Texas will move their offices in later this month.

Different areas were considered, and the WSNT board accepted a proposal for office space in Big Blue in June.

Statser said 10 years ago, before WSNT moved into their current location at the First Texas building, they considered locating in Big Blue.

“There was a lot more people in it back then,” she said.

Big Blue stood vacant for a number of years, but, due to the efforts by building owner Will Kelty, it is headed for a come back.

Altogether, there are more than 60 WSNT employees that will be moving to the building.

“Where everyone is, there is currently no space. It will also have an additional conference rooms and computers,” Statser said.

Board member offices will be located on the eighth floor, and other offices will be on the seventh and third floors and the second floor annex.

Moving all the offices into the new location could take some time, and Statser did not have a definitive completion date for the move.

Once they are ready for business, Statser said Big Blue has many amenities for their clients.

The spacious lobby, she said, will be perfect for hosting job fairs.

Custom wallpaper in a former oil company headquarters in Big Blue harkens back to the 1960s. Renovations are underway for the new offices of Workforce Solutions North Texas.Buy Photo
Custom wallpaper in a former oil company headquarters in Big Blue harkens back to the 1960s. Renovations are underway for the new offices of Workforce Solutions North Texas. (Photo: Torin Halsey/Times Record News, )
The central location in the heart of the city will be ADA-compliant, accessible and close to the travel center.

“We (WSNT) have always been located on bus routes to make sure people could use that to come see us,” Statser said. “Being near the travel center, maybe people can come here directly instead of taking another bus.”

Having all their offices under one roof will be beneficial, Statser said, as they regularly refer clients between departments for services.

Kelty said they are pleased with this partnership with WSNT.

Due to WSNT moving in, he said it prompted them to install another elevator and add more air-conditioning units.

“From literally one tenant in October of last year, we now have about 30 tenants,” he said.

The renovation they are doing on the building, he said, would not be possible without this influx of new tenants.

Work was ongoing Tuesday to spruce up the soon-to-be-inhabited floors at the downtown building.

Maintenance technician James Cunningham displays a 1960s television antenna found in a cabinet of an office being renovated in Big Blue downtown. Workforce Solutions North Texas will move their offices in later this month.

Maintenance technician James Cunningham displays a 1960s television antenna found in a cabinet of an office being renovated in Big Blue downtown. Workforce Solutions North Texas will move their offices in later this month.

Statser said she picked out a room for her new office on the eighth floor that had forest green carpet and four large windows overlooking the city.

It will be a big change, she said, as her current office does not have any windows.

While there is work to be done over the next several months, Staster said it will all be worth it to provide additional space, technology and improved services to many people in the North Texas area.

New barber academy to give students cutting edge in WF

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) –
If you were to ask Byron Lacy, owner of Upscale Barber Lounge where he was before moving to downtown Wichita Falls he would say 10th and Fillmore.

“With what they are trying to do with downtown and boom it up I felt like this was the perfect spot,” said Lacy. “The perfect opportunity to make that transition.”

Lacy transitioned Upscale Barber Lounge to Wichita Falls Barber Academy.

“Because it’s much needed,” said Lacy. “I think there is a shortage of barbers here and I think that it will boost the economy as well.”

Many barbers in Wichita Falls like Melvin Phillips, owner of Phillips Barber Shop have traveled more than a hundred miles to go to school.

“I went to Dallas Barber College and it wasn’t easy but I had to stay to the chase [because] I knew the outcome,” said Phillips.

That outcome was opening up his very own business on the east side of town.

Phillips said right now he could really use an extra set of hands and hopes with this new academy more barbers will be qualified to take on the role.

“To help some of the kids to maybe get off the streets, get off drugs whatever the case may be,” said Phillips. “By them going to the academy it’s going to promote jobs. It’s going to open up the community.”

Wichita Falls Barber Academy will offer four courses. Class A barber, barber instructor, cosmetology crossover, and hair weaving.

Each course will range anywhere between 300 hundred to 1,500 hours in order to get your license.

From opening up his very own barbershop to bringing the academy to downtown Wichita Falls, Lacy said by far this is the sweetest moment.

“I think it’s going to save a lot of youngsters lives because everybody is not built for college and everybody is not built for the military,” said Lacy.

The Academy will kick off in August and enrollment will start on Monday, July 23. If you want to sign up, you can call 940-733-3245 or visit WFBA at 800 8th St. next to the Highlander Public House.

Copyright 2018 RNN Texoma. All Rights Reserved.

New Restaurant Opens In Downtown Wichita Falls

Wichita Falls has plenty of good restaurant chain choices, with more on the way, but the home-grown variety is hard to beat.

Downtown Wichita Falls is getting yet another ‘mom & pop’ style eatery. Juan and Juanita’s Mexican Grill recently opened up at 612 7th Street. The menu currently features tacos and burritos, with a variety of meats, fillings, and toppings.

Downtown Wichita Falls holds great promise for more business growth and new restaurants, bars and entertainment always help draw a crowd.

To stay on top of what’s happening on the business and economic scene, join us for ‘The Voice of Wichita Falls’ each weekend.

Downtown WF becoming popular spot for businesses

It is becoming more popular for people to open or move their businesses to downtown Wichita Falls. Many owners, realtor groups, and developers are seeing the uptick. It’s evident with some announcements that have been made this week. In just the last three days Big Blue has announced three new tenants, most notably Workforce Solutions who will move all three of their locations to Big Blue. But they’re not the only building downtown seeing an uptick in interest. Apartment projects are in the works at the Center City, Petroleum, and Brown Buildings. Texoma Community Credit Union has also decided to open a location at the City National Building. “We get phone calls almost daily of someone looking for property or trying to partner with someone,” Executive Director of Downtown Development, Jana Schmader said. “So the movement continues even more than I think the public realizes. It’s coming and it’s continuing.” Owner of Big Blue, Will Kelty, is excited about adding Workforce Solutions as a tenant, but said it’s bigger than that. “Attracting tenants that are currently located outside of downtown, new businesses that are getting started and bringing them downtown, that’s huge for me because that means everything about the redevelopment of downtown,” Kelty said. Schmader said right now there’s a curiosity to downtown that people are exploring. “You’ve seen these spaces get taken up, you’ve seen people walking the streets,” she said. “So now you’re really looking at where can my business grow the most? And I think with the downtown momentum is just making people realize if I center myself downtown and I look at all these different people, that’s what’s going to be best for my growth cycle.” Just on Tuesday, a building on 7th Street was bought in an auction for nearly $27,000. White Realty said they have more people reaching out to them interested in leasing spaces inside their buildings. “The rebirth of Wichita Falls is really dependent upon those new, free-thinking people that are going to create new businesses,” Kelty said. “It really is a train that cannot be stopped,” Schmader added. Kelty said its great to see all these businesses that are interested in moving downtown but added that downtown is going to have to continue to grow for them to succeed. He said you’ll know downtown made it when there are college kids, airmen, and businessmen and woman walking the streets every day with places to live, work, and play. Copyright 2018 RNN Texoma. All Rights Reserved.

Wichita Falls in top 10 places to retire early

Picking the right place to live might be the secret to reaching financial freedom or even retiring early.

In a recent study by MagnifyMoney, Wichita Falls was ranked third out of 217 United States cities for best places to retire early.

The study notes a new goal for some workers called FIRE, or Financial Independence and Retiring Early.

Through the FIRE concept, workers who normally would retire at 62 can retire in their 40s and 50s through careful saving.

MORE: Wichita Falls ranks sixth least expensive city in cost of living index

Even with a medium to low-paying job, financial planners say if a person pays off debt, invests a large amount into savings and maintains a low cost of living — financial freedom and retiring early is possible.

The goal is for retirees to be able to live off savings or dividends until they can draw from traditional retirement benefits like Social Security, 401(k) or IRA.

For the study, the 217 cities were scored from zero to 100 in three categories, which were weighted differently — cost of living (50 percent weight), quality of life (30 percent) and employability (20 percent).

Wichita Falls was tied on the list with Jonseboro, Arkansas, each with a score of 76.

Cost of living (COL)

The COL score was based on average prices in each city for things like groceries, housing, utilities, transportation health care and other goods and services.

Quality of life (QOL)

The QOL score was calculated based on weather (average temperatures and number of sunny days), access to arts and entertainment and walkability of the city.

Employability

Employability was a factor because many early and regular retirees still enjoy working part time. In this area, the study looked at minimum wage for the area, unemployment rate, average commute and state income tax.

Wichita Falls scored the highest in the COL category with a 99, which was the most heavily weighted category. The city scored lower in QOL (48) and Employability (60).

Overall in the study, Southern cities dominated the top ten with eight on the list.  The next best areas in the U.S. were the Midwest, followed by the West.

MORE: Death, taxes and retirement: Are you ready?

The South scored the best in the regions for employability.

The northeast fared the worst for retiring early, mostly due to a high COL giving it a score of 17.

However, the area scored better than the South, Midwest and West for Quality of Life, scoring a 67 versus the national average of 50.

Whether it’s financial independence or retiring early, hanging on to your dollars is a little easier here in Wichita Falls.

Top 10 cities to retire early (cities had tied scores for second, third and fourth places) and final score

1.      Knoxville, Tennessee – 78

2.      Memphis, Tennessee – 77

2.      Sherman, Texas – 77

2.      Benton Harbor, Michigan – 77

3.      Wichita Falls, Texas – 76

3.      Jonesboro, Arkansas – 76

4.      Cleveland, Tennessee – 75

4.      Hattiesburg, Mississippi – 75

4.      Evansville, Indiana – 75

5.       McAllen, Texas – 74

For the full report of the study go to MagnifyMoney.

Claire Kowalick, Wichita Falls Times Record NewsPublished 6:51 a.m. CT June 19, 2018