Q: What challenges and opportunities do you anticipate for local businesses in 2014?
A: Thankfully, Irving is a very pro-business, forward-looking city. We do, however, have to remain cognizant of public policy issues at the state and federal level that have an impact on the business community. From transportation and infrastructure funding to regulatory and tax policy to common sense immigration reform and health-care reform, we must ensure that the voice of business is heard at all levels of government.
Q: What are your expectations for the economy, both locally and nationally?
A: Regarding the national economy, we have a debt and deficit crisis that needs to be addressed in a comprehensive fashion, including tax reform and entitlement reform.
2013 was a very successful year for the Irving Chamber’s Economic Development Partnership with the city of Irving. Working with our partners at the city, the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber achieved 26 economic development “wins” in FY2013, resulting in new company relocations and/or companies retained/expanded in Irving.
Q: What are the most important things local businesses will need to do to succeed in the new year?
A: Our local businesses, large and small, should be engaged and stay engaged in the policy-making process at the local, state and federal level. Businesses in Irving pay the majority of taxes to the city: more than 72 percent. So the business community in Irving needs to make sure that they have a seat at the table in matters of local government.
Q: What are some of the highlights of your group’s planned events and programs in 2014?
A: We will be hosting several of our signature program events in 2014. The purpose of these events is to showcase our business member-investors and help them to grow their businesses. The Chamber works every day to assist and promote our more than 1,800 members.
The Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce salutes the men and women of the United States military, and we appreciate the great sacrifices they make in defense of our freedoms. To that end, the Chamber has several programs focused on assisting veterans and their families through workforce development and job placement. Hireirving.com is a job placement site created by the Chamber that gives priority recognition to veterans seeking employment.
Q: What potential do you foresee for local job growth this year?
A: According to a recent Forbes study, Irving ranked sixth nationally in job growth over the past five years. This is great news for Irving. And it goes to show that low tax, light regulatory public policy at the local level is allowing our local economy to thrive and continue to grow despite the recession.
Q: North Texas continues to be one of the fastest-growing regions in the state. How do evolving demographics influence business offerings in your community?
A: These shifts in our region’s demography mean that we are seeing an increase in minority-owned businesses in our community. The Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce has strong relationships with the Irving Hispanic Chamber and the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, and we work to promote minority-owned businesses and advance economic growth for our city.
Q: What advances in technology, transportation and communication have affected business this year? What role will those advances play next year?
A: Several significant pieces of legislation affecting the business community were passed this year during the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature. The Chamber advocated for several important economic development issues, and achieved some significant wins for the business community on key bills. The Chamber fought for business tax relief, tax incentives for research and development, and telecommunications tax exemptions to allow technology companies to grow and expand their presence in Texas.
The Chamber also strongly supported transportation funding throughout the 83rd regular session and the three special sessions that followed.