Taylor Davis, Wichita Falls Talent Partnership

Since my arrival in April, a common concern from employers regarding their ability to grow is the lack of qualified local talent to recruit and retain for positions at all levels within the business. They also have the inability to recruit quality individuals from outside Wichita County due to the cost of relocation for the candidate and competition from larger cities in Texas and Oklahoma.

While hiring local is a priority, this helps grow our workforce.

Though we will always prioritize the educating and hiring of local, home-grown talent, due to stagnant population growth and record-low unemployment, employers have found it difficult to fill positions with our current local workforce. We are working diligently to improve community-wide educational attainment and create talent pipelines to achieve our long-term workforce goals, but employers need an option that finds employees right now.

Sharp Iron Group, a world-class contract manufacturer and service provider in Wichita Falls, found themselves facing this same challenge when trying to recruit welders. Our local workforce simply could not fill the volume of positions that Sharp Iron Group was offering.

In a recent Cash For Jobs incentive package, Sharp Iron Group was offered a $3,000 incentive per employee to recruit eight welders from out-of-county by helping off-set relocation costs for the candidates. With the help of Travis Haggard, Vice President of Business Retention and Expansion for the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce, Sharp Iron Group was able to form a relationship with Tulsa Welding School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to recruit the welders they needed.

This established a talent pipeline that will continue to help Sharp Iron Group fill their open positions.

The workforce recruitment/relocation incentive program has been great for Sharp Iron Group. Working together with the Chamber, we’ve been able to bring some new skilled workers to our company and to our city. It’s a win-win. Our company grows, our community grows, and everyone’s opportunities grow along with it.”

Michael Stanford, President of Sharp Iron Group

Groundwork laid to create the employee relocation incentive

Inspired by the incentive received by Sharp Iron Group, the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Talent Partnership created and proposed an employee relocation incentive. The idea of this incentive is to encourage out-of-towners to permanently move to our community and fill our open jobs when a qualified workforce is unavailable.

On November 5, 2019, City Council approved the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation’s recommendation to fund $200,000 toward an employee relocation incentive. The incentive offers employers $4,000-8,000 to recruit new employees from outside of the Wichita Falls MSA after they establish residency in our area and retain employment for six months.

Who qualifies?

The amount offered varies per position dependent on salary and begins incentivizing positions at $15/hour or higher. As outlined by the Texas Legislature, any company in Wichita County that falls within the authorized North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes can request this incentive. No money is exchanged until the company fulfills its performance agreement.

This is a major victory for our companies, our population count and our economy!