by Penelope Shirey | Design Editor
While Austin is the Texas city most commonly known as being trendy and tech-forward, there is a group in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex working hard to change that idea.
Natalie Fletcher, director of innovation at the Dallas Regional Chamber, works daily to make the area seem cutting-edge by helping companies make the connections they need.
“A lot of what I do is support the launch and growth of activities in DFW,” Fletcher said.
The Dallas Regional Chamber is nonprofit business organization with other 1,200 member companies, many of whom Fletcher said are on the Fortune 500 list.
“We are blessed to have a very robust economic climate in DFW, and it’s growing every day as these huge companies are moving into the region,” Fletcher said.
The chamber runs solely off of member companies’ dues, which equip the chamber to not only advocate for the metroplex to other businesses, but also in Austin in the public policy arena.
“If we’re going to advocate for certain policies when legislation is in session, we can’t be taking taxpayer money,” Fletcher said.
The 2014 Baylor public relations graduate said she has spent the last eight months since stepping into her role focusing on the chamber’s primary goal though, which is growing the region economically.
To do this, Fletcher said they work hard to attract new companies.
“At the end of the day, we want [companies] to grow in DFW and stay in DFW,” Fletcher said.
Kevin Tankersley, full-time lecturer in the Baylor department of journalism, public relations and new media, said part of Fletcher’s job is helping strengthen Dallas-Fort Worth’s case as a corporate relocation site.
“She just has a great job, especially for someone who’s 26,” said Tankersley.
After successfully wooing Toyota to relocate their American headquarters to Plano last year, the chamber has now shifted its focus to online giant Amazon.
“We are quarterbacking, regionally, the bid for that,” Fletcher said.
When Amazon announced their intention to expand with a second headquarters location last September, cities across the country began formulating their proposals.
“We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs,” says Amazon’s HQ2 homepage.
Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin are the only Texas cities on the top 20 list for Amazon’s second headquarters location, and Fletcher said they are very pleased to have made it to this point.
Fletcher said there is a big misconception about Austin being the cooler, hipper place in Texas.
“Right now we hold about 40 percent of the state share in tech work force, and Austin in comparison has 18 to 19 percent of that,” Fletcher said.
“We do have that poor branding to get past,” Fletcher said.
However, Fletcher said she thinks Dallas-Fort Worth has a really good chance of winning the bid.
“I think we wouldn’t have been in the running had it not been for how much our innovation ecosystem has expanded in the last 10 years,” she said.