| Claire Kowalick, Wichita Falls Times Record News
A longtime fixture at the Wichita Falls Downtown Farmers Market will soon have a permanent location, thanks in part to $25,000 in funding from the 4B Sales Tax Corporation.
At a 4B meeting, Andy Lee and 6th Street Winery and Tasting Room owner Bill Andersen spoke to the board of directors to request funds to aid in renovation of a historic downtown building.
The business has been in the “incubation” stage, Lee said, for about two and a half years with a regular booth at the farmers market and online sales through their website.
Andersen said before he started the business, he and his wife, Marilyn, a teacher with Wichita Falls ISD, enjoyed visiting vineyards and participating in wine tastings around the state.
While at a vineyard during spring break one year, the couple noticed many visitors to the spot were also educators. Andersen joked that there should be a “Had a Bad Day Chardonnay,” just for teachers.
He began his wine-making journey with a “Wine for Teachers” website. Andersen then began offering his creations at the farmers market.
As an “urban winery,” Andersen said they do not operate a vineyard, but rather purchases grapes which are processed into a variety of vintages including educator-themed flavors like Class from Hell White Zinfandel and Sweet Summer Vacation (a sweet white table wine).
The winery also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Pinot Noir, red wine blend and Twister Peach.
Andersen said the business will donate a portion of the proceeds from their Wine for Teachers products to WFISD parent-teacher organizations and other education-related programs.
After receiving rave reviews on the wines produced, Andersen decided to renovate a downtown building in the Historic Depot Square area for a tasting room and production area.
A former warehouse and auto parts distribution area at 600 Sixth St. proved to be a prime location for Andersen’s aims.
WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)Shatanya Clarke– The keynote speaker at the 28th Annual Chamber of Commerce Economic Forum believes there are not enough employees to fill positions and his solution might surprise you.
Keynote speaker, Mike Randle, said he believes the problem with economic development here is the lack of labor and one way to address that he believes is by embracing immigration.
As Mike Randle’s Southern Business and Development Magazine celebrates its 25th year, he’s sharing his knowledge to business owners, big and small, about what he believes are the causes and solutions to economic development.
“We need more people, that’s the biggest economic challenge that we have in this country right now,” Randle said. “Employers cannot find workers.”
Randle suggests to attract more companies to Wichita Falls, business owners should find new ways to attract workers.
“We can embrace immigration, increase it,” Randle said. “Accept slower growth because we don’t have the employees to grow.”
Randle said he also believes that subsidizing fertility is a key factor.
“Each mom and dad gets about $2,000 dollars in a tax credit to have a kid that needs to be $10,000,” Randle said.
Wichita Falls Chamber President, Henry Florsheim emphasizes that workforce development is key.
“If we are going to grow our community we’ve got to focus on enlarging the talent pool so we can help our companies fill the positions they have open today,” Florsheim said.
Florsheim adds that with unemployment in Wichita Falls at 3.3 percent, it is much harder to recruit companies because of the lack of workers, and so it is also important to build a city where more people are willing to stay.
Randle added that there are 7 million jobs available in the country however only 1 million people are looking for jobs.
WICHITA FALLS, TX (KFDX/KJTL) – Texas is ranked 25th in the nation when it comes to being bike friendly.
Places with the current designation include 10 communities, 37 businesses, and 6 universities and members with the Bike Friendly Community Action Team are trying to get Wichita Falls recognized.
“The goal is to eventually in August of next year to apply for the bronze level designation and through the League of American Bicyclist. They have bronze silver gold and then a platinum level,” said Becky Raeke with the BCFA team.
The qualifications are based on things like, infrastructure, ordinances that address cyclists safety, and community outreach, among several other criteria.
Even though the city hosts one of the largest bike rides in the nation, the chamber of commerce president said we can’t just rely on the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred.
“We’re already known around the cycling world for Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred but aside from that we’re not that friendly toward cyclists and so becoming more bicycle friendly will make it easier for people to get around the community whether it’s for recreational, or for commuting and for us selling people from the outside world on, why Wichita Falls.”
With more establishments getting behind the bike-friendly movement, organizers with the BFCA team are hoping it becomes a growing trend.