4. 2 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
reparing students for the jobs of today is historically
the mission of Tarrant County College (TCC).
Understanding the workforce ecosystem of Tarrant
County and having relationships with our community
partners and employers is key to everyone’s success. Since
our establishment in 1965, TCC has made it a point to exhibit
adherence to and transparency of our values:
• Student Success: Belief in providing quality instruction,
resources and support services to assist our students
in achieving their lifelong goals
• Access: Belief in providing educational opportunities
for all members of the community
• Excellence: Belief in providing outstanding quality
educational programs, administrative support and
services to its students, faculty and staff
• Diversity: Belief that TCC should reflect the diversity
of the community
• Innovation and Creativity: Belief in cultivating a
learning environment that evaluates and incorporates
emerging technologies and methodologies to enhance
the quality of instruction and administrative support
for our students, faculty and staff
We are fiercely proud of our track record. TCC graduates with
associate’s degrees have gone on to some of the most prestigious
institutions in the country. But we are not stopping there.
While TCC has steadfastly prepared students and workers
for the careers of today, we know that in the digital and fast-
paced high-tech age, we have to prepare the workforce for
the careers of tomorrow, even if those jobs do not exist yet.
We are constantly meeting with industry leaders to make
sure that TCC has its ear to the grindstone of academia and
industry, and that Tarrant County’s workforce will be robust,
educated and ready to meet the demands of industry.
To support our students, our employers and our community,
TCC has adopted three key goals:
• One College: TCC will function as One College to provide
a consistent and successful student experience.
• Student Ready College: TCC will put students at the
core of all programs and services so they are welcomed,
engaged and supported inside and outside the classroom.
• Serve the Community: TCC will serve the community
and be its first choice for partnership.
It is through our values and our goals that TCC continues
to keep its finger on the pulse of our community through
quality teaching and learning. We continue to grow our
services in Tarrant County, and we look forward to educating
and preparing the next generation of college graduates and
Elva Concha LeBlanc, PhD
interim chancellor, tarrant county college district
A Message From the Chancellor
5. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 3
Meet some ofthe amazing companies
doing business in Tarrant County.
by vanessa orr
Learning and development are critical to
recruitment and retention of quality employees.
by heide brandes
Today’s workforce is in need of skilled employees more than at any
point in the 21st century. This issue of The Lens speaks to that need
and addresses how some Tarrant County companies are nurturing their
workforce and helping young people enterthe workforce early in their
careers. The adage that a company is only as good as its employees is
not only true, but it is evident in the employee programs offered to help
foster both career and personal growth.
cover illustration by joshua knight
6. 4 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
ne of the greatest adventures in life is to learn. There is
always something new to learn; there is always another
question to ask. Our educational journey never stops.
How many of us remember being asked as a child
what we wanted to be when we grew up? I, personally, wanted
to be a rock star. Unfortunately, I was not gifted with the
talent of music. Thus, I gave up singing in the mirror with
my hairbrush as a microphone and hit the books for new
learning adventures that led me to the world of learning
Think for a moment about asking a young child today what
it is they might want to do when they grow up. With the
innovation of today’s world, do the career opportunities in
their future even exist now? Probably not. Hence, the vital
importance of lifelong learning.
This edition of our award-winning magazine, The Lens, focuses
on the magnificent work of our community partners and
their mission to ensure our young people have an educational
pathway from cradle to career. One example includes T3:
Tarrant To & Through Partnership. The mission of T3 “aims to
ensure more Tarrant County students have the training and
skills they need to thrive in today’s workforce.”
Another example is Camp Fire First Texas. Camp Fire’s mission
is “to invest in North Texas communities by providing out-of-
school time and outdoor learning programs for children and
youth while also offering workforce development programs
for early childhood educators.”
These are just a few institutions working diligently every
day in Tarrant County to make certain our children are learning
and growing toward a pathway of educational attainment,
career success and impact to the overall economic health of
We then meet a few of the thousands of employers in the
region. We visit with executive leadership from businesses
like MP Materials, Diamondback Industries, CoreCo USA, ITS
ConGlobal, BrightCrowd and RECARO Aircraft Seating Americas,
LLC. The innovative work of these businesses in our community
is amazing. They are the current and future employers of our
young people. I encourage you to get to know them.
It will take all of us to lift up and strengthen the education
and skill-building of our workforce, now and tomorrow. Tarrant
County College District is proud to be part of such a wonderful
ecosystem, working around the clock to empower our people
through education and lifelong learning.
Together, we all move to the head of the class.
Shannon E. Bryant, MEd, CWDP, LSSGB
executive vice president for corporate solutions
& economic development, tarrant county college district
host, the workforce lens podcast
editor-in-chief, the lens magazine publication
Not All of Tomorrow’s
Careers Exist Today
A Message From the Editor
Have thoughts on workforce and ecomonic development?
Drop me a message at email@example.com. I value your thoughts.
7. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 5
The Lens, published by Midwest Luxury Publishing, LLC,
for TCC’s Department of Corporate Solutions & Economic
Development, celebrates local corporations, workforce,
residents and guests from around the world, giving TCC one of
the most diverse portfolios in higher education.
All material is strictly copyright protected and all rights are
reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in
whole or in part without written permission of the copyright
holder. All information and data are correct at the time of
publication. Opinions expressed in The Lens are not necessarily
those of Midwest Luxury Publishing, and Midwest Luxury
Publishing does not accept responsibility for advertising
content. Any images supplied are at the owner’s risk and are
the property of the owner.
Printed in the USA
Adam Pitluk, PhD
Southern Luxury Publishing and Midwest Luxury Publishing are
full-service communication outfits made up of experienced industry
experts. We are your turnkey provider for all your publishing needs.
CONTACT THE PUBLISHER
Shannon Bryant, MEd, CWDP, LSSGB
Executive Vice President for
Corporate Solutions & Economic Development,
Tarrant County College District
Host, The Workforce Lens Podcast
Elva LeBlanc, PhD
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Teresa Ayala, President
Kenneth Barr, Vice President
Jeannie Deakyne, Secretary
Shannon Wood, District 2
Leonard Hornsby, Assistant Secretary
Bill Greenhill, District 4
Gwendolyn Morrison, District 6
by shika hershel, phd
From Tarrant County
by the numbers
by james ndone, phd
Feedback & the New
World of Work
by jennifer blalock, edd
by wendy weinhold, phd
by dan schlossberg
Rough in the
by sam osterling
by bennett root
Is Your (Employee)
8. 6 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
jennifer blalock, edd
Jennifer has spent over two
decades leading teams in
post-secondary education and
municipal government. As the
CEO of InJenuity Solutions,
Jennifer develops, facilitates and
evaluates workforce, economic
and organizational development
Based in Oklahoma City, Heide is
an award-winning journalist whose
work has appeared in Forbes, The
Wall Street Journal, The New York
Times and The Washington Post,
among others. She is also a historic
re-enactor and an avid hiker.
shika hershel, phd
Shika has published articles
in various commercial and
educational journals. She is also
the former team photographer for
the Texas Rangers. Shika currently
works in risk management at
Charles Schwab & Co.
james ndone, phd
James is an organizational and
scholar who specializes in crisis
communication. Originally from
Kenya, he has worked domestically
and abroad in both education and
industry. He has a PhD from the
University of Missouri.
Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., Vanessa
has been a freelance writer and
editor for more than 25 years. Her
work has appeared in hundreds of
regional and national publications
including the Pittsburgh Post-
Gazette and Alaska Business
Sam is a team manager and
freelance writer based in New York
City. In his years of managing a
large team, Sam learned volumes
about sourcing, developing and
retaining talented team members.
He holds degrees from Ohio State
Bennett Root is a business advisor,
mediator, arbitrator, attorney and
author. He specializes in building
innovative programs for SMBs
and systems to reduce workplace
conflict and build profits.
Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, N.J.,
is the author of 40 baseball books.
He covers the game for forbes.com,
Latino Sports, USA Today, Sports
Weekly and Sports Collectors Digest.
wendy m. weinhold, phd
Wendy is an associate professor of
journalism and a faculty fellow at
the Center for Inclusive Excellence
at Coastal Carolina University in
Conway, S.C. Her research focuses
on the intersection of journalism,
gender and democracy.
9. When you advertise in The Lens, you’ll reach an audience ofinfluential leaders not just
in Tarrant County, but throughout the North Texas region. What’s more, Fort Worth is
the 12th largest city in the country, in part because like-minded business leaders are
discovering what many locals have known for a while: This is one of the best places in
the United States to strike the perfect work/life balance.
Advertise In The Lens And
Reach Tens Of Thousands
Of Business Leaders
for advertising opportunities, please email our publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
we look forward to working with you!
10. 8 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
County and Beyond
The stats behind one ofthe fastest-growing markets in the country.
11. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 9
PROJECTED TOTAL JOBS
IN TARRANT COUNTY BY 2025
INCREASE IN JOBS
FROM 2020 TO 2022
NUMBERS IN THE AREA
MEDIAN HOME VALUE3
THE U.S. AVERAGE
COST OF LIVING
YEAR-OVER-YEAR NET CHANGE FOR PRIVATE-INDUSTRY SUPERSECTOR
EMPLOYMENT IN THE DALLAS METROPOLITAN AREA, NOVEMBER 2021 (IN THOUSANDS)
SOURCES: 1. CENSUS.GOV 2. PUBLICRECORDS.COM 3. TCCD.EDU 4. U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
5. FORTWORTHREPORT.ORG 6. TEXASLMI.COM
JOBS WITH A PARTICIPATION RATE OF 68%
A CIVILIAN LABOR FORCE OF OVER
12. 10 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
Parent and family engagement starts as early as middle school,
so we work with parents and families to help them navigate
what it means to create that next career or find their college
pathway. In eighth grade, they have to select their endorsement.
Sometimes it is difficult for parents and families to navigate,
so we want to demystify that process and support families in
making that decision alongside their student. We want them
to find the pathway they are truly passionate about.
From there, we have a program pillar called Postsecondary
Pathways. Students create their postsecondary success plan.
They take a pledge and commit to furthering their educational
arents want what’s best for their
children, that is a given. But it’s
hard to help maturing teenagers
prepare for a career when the
parents themselves don’t have their fingers
on the pulse of the workforce. That’s where
Tarrant To & Through (T3) Partnership comes
in. Launched in 2020, T3 provides a variety
of programs designed to inform and engage
students and families about college and
The Lens sat down with T3 Partnership
Executive Director Natalie Young Williams
to discuss T3’s goals, the importance of this
entity for shaping career-minded minds and
the bright future that awaits participants.
Why was the Tarrant To & Through
Partnership program created?
The reason why we exist is to ensure
more students in Tarrant County obtain
postsecondary credentials and create
pathways to economic prosperity.
Can you explain the mission, core values and key
components of the program?
When we think about the T3 Partnership model, we refer to it
as the T3 Connection Continuum. The continuum is a decade
of support from grades six to 16. We have four student-facing
program pillars—Parent and Family Engagement, Postsecondary
Pathways, College and Career Success, and Mentoring and
Workforce Development. Our fifth program pillar is Data and
Technology because having data insights allows us to provide
the best program support for our students and to strengthen
Tarrant To & Through (T3) prepares today’s
youths fortomorrow’s careers. by shika hershel, phd
13. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 11
goals in order to be eligible for scholarships and other support,
and then they pursue whatever that next step is on their career
trajectory. If they choose the pathway to go to college, the
College and Career pillar provides persistence support to complete
The fourth pillar is Mentoring and Workforce Development.
We started as early as middle school with the exploration of
Career Pathways, then we transition into high school, where
we’re connecting students with mentors to support them on a
career or college pathway. We continue that into college so that
they have a professional mentor to not only help them on their
career path but also to help them through that first year on the
job. Whether they’re looking to go directly from college into the
workforce or if they earn a certification or industry credential,
we want to help them be successful in their chosen career path.
All the pillars build upon each other and are interconnected.
This ensures a strong foundation of support as students move
along the continuum to find the career or college pathway.
Our T3 tagline is ‘Clear Pathways. Bright Futures.’ We want all
students to find the best-fit pathway to a bright future.
“Our T3 tagline is ‘Clear
Pathways. Bright Futures.’
We want all students to
find the best-fit pathway
to a bright future.”
— Natalie Young Williams
15. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 13
Who is eligible to participate in the program?
We partner with school districts and work closely and intentionally
with students. All students are eligible to take the pledge, so
every single student in our partner school districts is eligible.
We work primarily with sophomores, juniors and seniors in our
high schools. We also started working with three middle schools.
We’re in Fort Worth ISD as well as Crowley ISD. When a student
takes the pledge, they become a T3 scholar.
What can students expect while being in the program, and
what does the postsecondary pathway look like?
For starters, the student will have a support system along the
way. Our T3 team members understand the hurdles, obstacles
and challenges of navigating college or your career pathway,
especially if they’re the first person in their family that’s going
on to college.
We hope that the students view T3 as a partner in their
educational journey that listens to them, understands their
passions and their desires and really helps them connect all
those steps along the way to reach their fullest potential.
Can you explain the funding and scholarships offered in
the program for postsecondary students?
Each institution of higher education has an income threshold
that a student or their family must meet in order to qualify for
the Last Dollar tuition scholarship, which funds the gap between
the cost of tuition and the financial aid or scholarship awards.
For example, if a student is Pell Grant eligible, whatever the
difference is between scholarships or federal funding and the
Pell Grants, our partner institutions of higher education agree
to fill in the tuition gap.
In terms of the First Dollar scholarships, we provide students
who meet income thresholds and remain in good standing
$250 per semester. The money goes directly to the student,
and they’re able to utilize that for books or any necessities
that they may need.
Our model addresses barriers to access by eliminating financial,
information and advising gaps and creates pathways to economic
prosperity by ensuring all students can attend a postsecondary
institution of their choice tuition-free if they meet income
thresholds or earn an industry credential.
How can businesses participate in the T3 program?
We love to have employees in businesses sign up to mentor
students in industries that align with their interests and what
they’re looking to pursue upon high school or college graduation.
The other way businesses can participate is by providing job
opportunities for students. What we see is that students who
can connect with individuals in companies with career paths
they are interested in, especially when it’s their first job or the
first step in their career, are more likely to be successful, feel
welcomed and navigate that first year of transition into a new job.
What is the T3 program’s postsecondary completion rate?
We just had our first cohort finish their first year in college
and our second cohort is entering their first year of college.
We added about 500 more students in our second cohort for
a total enrollment of just under 1,500. We had about an 85%
persistence rate from fall to spring. We are just now receiving
our freshman to sophomore persistence rates and we are seeing
16. 14 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
The organization uses several programs and camps to build a
more empathetic workforce filled with critical thinkers.
Camp Fire’s Early Education Workforce Development program
works to build the workforce both directly and indirectly. The
program offers an Early Education Apprenticeship Program
specifically for educators in Texas.
“We go into early childhood centers and provide teachers with
training, credentialing and mentoring to provide high-quality
education to young children,” Richard says. The program is fully
registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and trains educators
in everything from appropriate teacher-student interactions to
proper assessment of students.
Richard says Camp Fire’s teacher education comes with a
“focus on language development, conscious discipline, social
ust a few miles southwest of Fort Worth sits Camp El
Tesoro. Situated on the north side of the Brazos River,
the camp has stood for nearly 100 years and features
basketball courts, fishing, swimming, archery and all the
other fun activities that make camp memorable. It’s operated
by Camp Fire, a national youth development organization that
serves over 300,000 people nationwide each year. But there’s
more to the camp than just summer fun, for Camp Fire’s purpose
is to prepare a future workforce through activities.
According to Camp Fire First Texas President and CEO Lauren
Richard, the organization takes several approaches to create future
leaders in the workforce. “So many soft skills aren’t prioritized as
much as academic knowledge,” she says. “That’s what teachers
want, and that’s what employers need.”
Learning Made Fun
Camp Fire delivers life lessons for campers
and counselors alike. by sam osterling
18. 16 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
and counselors alike to put lessons into practice in the real world.
It’s one thing to tell kids about how leadership and inclusion
are important; it’s another to encourage them to take action.
As a prime example, Richard tells a story about a group of
kids she watched as they worked through the rope course. One
child was “petrified,” she says. Instead of the kids turning to the
counselors or camp organizers to deal with the kid who was
and emotional skills.” They’re also sure to spend a lot of focus
on outdoor spaces for young children to learn.
On top of educating and training teachers, there’s also a program
to earn the Early Childhood Administrator’s Credential. That
training features management and leadership training along
with helping students understand the best business practices
in early childhood education.
And then, of course, there are the titular camps.
The organization was forced to shutter the summer
camp during the pandemic, but Richard reports
that since then, the camp has grown year over year.
“After COVID, we closed camp for the only
time in our history,” she says. “The next year we
had a lot of COVID protocols, so it wasn’t the
same camp. This last summer was amazing. It
was camp as usual, and we had one of the best
years: over 875 kids out there.”
There are myriad programs at Camp El Tesoro
throughout the summer. There are weeklong
and two-week sessions for children of all ages,
weekend camps and even camps for children
who’ve recently lost a loved one.
During these camp sessions, the organization
works to ensure that kids are learning the soft skills
and critical thinking that’ll carry them through their
education and work life. “Everything is tied to the
state of Texas’s educational standards,” Richard
says. “For counselors, it’s a great opportunity to
get leadership skills and decision-making skills.”
Richard says the camp setting allows campers
“So many soft skills aren’t prioritized
as much as academic knowledge. That’s
what teachers want, and that’s
what employers need.”
— Lauren Richard
PRESIDENT AND CEO OF CAMP FIRE FIRST TEXAS
19. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 17
time to actually implement them, you don’t take the opportunity
away from the kids.” The scared child finished the rope course,
though it wasn’t his favorite part of camp.
The counselors, all of whom are 18 and older, receive training
and certifications to make the experience feel like a job—which
it is. They receive paychecks, professional development and are
able to earn college credit or other certifications on the job. And
the organizers make sure their voices are heard.
Camp Fire First Texas uses data to guide their decision-making
at camp through surveys and other assessments carried out by
Camp Fire’s national office. What went well at camp this year?
What didn’t? What could we change? Counselors are directly
able to use those critical thinking and communication skills to
guide camp. “Our value of inclusion has been with us since our
inception,” Richard says.
Whether it’s kayaking, archery or dance, Richard says that kids
at Camp El Tesoro are helping create a more vibrant, capable
workforce. The younger children are learning about discipline and
being present, while the older kids are learning about leadership,
communication and collaboration. The soft skills they learn on
the Brazos River help them become better students, workers,
and in due time, leaders.
unable to continue through the course, the counselors let the
kids figure out a solution.
“They were practicing empathy, problem-solving—how do we
get him up there?” Richard says. “Talking him through it, they
were able to help him without anything from the adults.” The
ability to empathize and use creative problem-solving to find
solutions is a skill Richard says carries over into the workforce.
“It’s not just talking about these things,” she says. “When it’s
‘Growing Grapevine’ for 50 years.
20. 18 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
And the ultimate reality: Unsolved employment issues threaten
your business just as much as unmet sales quotas or unfilled
raw materials orders.
For months now, long after the pandemic was the top news story,
uncontrolled and unmanageable problems for most employers
concerned staffing challenges. For many, those challenges
are getting worse. And if that were not headache enough, as
technology creates new business efficiencies, skill demands are
moving more quickly than available skill resources.
wo problems predominate most contemporary business
meetings: “I can’t find enough [qualified] workers” and
“We can’t get enough parts/supplies/raw materials.” Either
way, requirements are not being met in the supply chain.
Excuses are many; solutions are few. But it need not be that way.
The truth is that most businesses work much harder (and
more effectively) when trying to land customers or in resolving
material shortages than they do when trying to address their
staffing challenges. For most employers, a little more focused
thought—and more effective outreach—could meet crucial post-
pandemic staffing shortages. And the good news for employers:
You will significantly level up your HR game by doing this.
Myth vs. Reality
Employer woes about vacant positions—public employers,
private employers, production employees, office employees—are
often myths masquerading as excuses, not realities. Consider:
• Myth: The pandemic made the young workforce
disengaged—happy to sit around at home on their parents’
dole. Reality: Most young people are anxious to get out
on their own, but they are uncertain about how to do this.
• Myth: High schools and colleges are not training their
students for today’s jobs and there are simply not enough
qualified job applicants. Reality: Usually there are qualified
students, but you are not getting the pick of the litter.
• Myth: New employees just want to take the signing
bonus benefits and then parlay their experience elsewhere.
Reality: Changing jobs is hard and usually comes with
significant risk. Incentivize your new hires to stay with
you and you can beat the employee turnover carousel.
Building Post-Pandemic Solutions forthe Challenges
of a Post-Pandemic Economy. by bennett root
21. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 19
processes, consider customer requirements that may change
how you can best address your markets. Accenture notes in a
recent website posting: “A zero-based approach to reinventing
your future workforce [is best]. Take a fresh look across your
entire workforce to find where you can stop doing work by
changing standard operating procedures, simplifying processes
and deploying technology more effectively.”
And as Forbes counsels, “talk with your existing employees,”
the ones who have been getting the job done over the past
30 to 40 months. Operating changes forced by the pandemic
have often revealed new efficiencies, which mean different skills
should be deployed (or deployed differently) and a reduced
head count may be possible.
These increasing skills gaps portend even
greater problems as we stagger forward in
an economy few of us fully understand. Skills
gaps are not temporary; they are long-term,
post-pandemic, new-normal realities. What
we see is that employers who continue with
old strategies and tired tactics are not meeting
new recruitment challenges. Short-term “band-
aid” incentive strategies such as recruitment
bonuses or even systemic compensation
adjustments will only be effective until the
competitor down the street matches those
incentives. Or beats them. Either way, the
challenges will remain.
Better solutions center around more education and training
of employees. Specifically, education for employees that is more
focused on closing skills gaps. Yet having a pool of better-trained
workers does not assure that your employment vacancies will
get filled. So how do you attract new workers while retaining
the ones you have?
An Aggressive Plan of Attack
You likely already use the techniques you will want to adopt
for cutting into that list of vacancies. Do become reactive; build
a proactive plan to surround and attack the problem.
First, as is often said but too often ignored, get to “know
thyself.” Before you seek new talent for old work structures and
Listen particularly to their desires
and their fears. These are the
motivators that drive sales, and you
are selling the idea that working for
you would be a great idea for them.
Being proactive with a well-
organized plan is the first step
in addressing a staff shortage.
22. 20 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
the skill sets you need. Understand that students can easily get
educational loans, but paying those loans back is a persistent
worry. To address that concern (and to incentivize their coming
to work for you when the education part is complete), consider
an employment incentive that matches their loan repayments
dollar-for-dollar. It is a great way to recruit new talent but at
the same time, it assures talent engagement and retention. A
similar program might be designed for recruitment of those
already employed but whose skills you will need as the future
of work unfolds.
Vacancies in your workforce present pressing, persistent problems.
Resolving these problems using the techniques suggested adds
cost, to be sure, but foremost, the cost of solving the problem
is much less than the cost of unresolved workforce problems
measured by lost customers, lost market share and lost profits.
Facilitating workforce development by integrating your employee
recruitment and retention with outside educational programs
can address those staffing woes that are urgent today and
growing. Creative and careful program design will be rewarded.
As Sun Tzu famously advised, “The battle is won before it is
ever fought.” Plan first, then execute a comprehensive strategy.
Reach out. Listen well. Build a pathway to your office or plant.
Make continuing education and skills development a part of your
culture. This will allow you to both adjust to a post-pandemic
economy and build a winning workforce for the future, regardless
of what the future holds.
Second, determine where your preferred new employees are
now. In school? Working for a competitor? In a low-wage site
out of state? As you would with any marketing problem, locate
your targets and figure out how to interrupt them. Then, ask
them what it would take to get them to become part of your
team. Listen particularly to their desires and their fears. These
are the motivators that drive sales, and you are selling the idea
that working for you would be a great idea for them.
Third, create incentives that meet prospective employees’ desires
(I want a job with a future so I can send my kids to college) or
alleviate their fears (I need a job that will allow me to navigate
an uncertain future). This last step should produce something
more thoughtful than a signing or retention bonus, a benefit
too soon forgotten. Consider longer-term training incentives
that pay for performance over time. Incentives that are forward
investments will pay substantial dividends as technology and
AI change future workplaces.
Knowledge is Key
Which brings us back to the desirability of more education. If
your target new employee is a student at, say, a local high school
or college, reach out and connect through the school’s counseling
or career placement office. Post-pandemic students have all the
usual fears about starting a new job and a new life, but also
new fears of a post-pandemic job market and economy. Listen
to their concerns and create a specific learn-work program(s) for
Speak with, and listen to,
employees about what they are
looking for in an employer.
23. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 21
350 courses offered online through TCC
Maymester and Wintermester
Free public transportation
Serving nearly 100,000 students annually
Ranked the top online college in Texas
348 instructors with doctoral degrees
Average pass rate of 90 percent for our 29
state licensure programs
- County resident tuition: $64/credit hour
= $960 for a 15-hour semester
5 transferable associate degrees
68 Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
132 Certificates of Completion
18 Occupational Skills Awards
Community Education & Engagement (CEE)
programs at more than 10 locations in
College for Kids
Early College High Schools
Adult Basic Education
Corporate Workforce Training
Since our first campus opened in 1967, TCC has conferred more than
130,000 degrees and certificates
upon people who, mostly, have established themselves in this same region.
Creating everyday heroes who enhance our community…that’s what we do.
24. 22 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
Meet some ofthe amazing companies
doing business in Tarrant County.
by vanessa orr | illustration by natalie hasty
hen companies decide where to set up shop, owners take a lot of factors into account. From transportation
access to zoning rules and regulations, from workforce availability to whether their employees will
want to live in the location and send their children to school there, scores of decisions are stirred
into the relocation pot.
According to six Tarrant County companies—ranging from those new to the area to those who have
been located here for decades—the greater Tarrant County area checks all of the boxes when it
comes to helping their businesses and employees succeed.
26. 24 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
MP Materials is one of the newest additions to Tarrant County,
and they are putting down roots in a big way. In 2021, the
company announced that it would be breaking ground in April
2022 on a rare earth metal, alloy and magnet manufacturing
facility in Fort Worth.
Headquartered in Las Vegas, MP Materials is the largest
rare earth materials producer in the Western Hemisphere, and
owns and operates Mountain Pass, America’s only active and
scaled rare earth mining and processing site, located in San
Bernardino County, California.
“We ran a very careful process to decide what was important
to us in order to find an area that fit us,” says Alan Lund,
executive director of magnetics at MP Materials. “The fact
that DFW is close provides key infrastructure—the airport is
a great transportation hub, and there are also a lot of trans-
shipping options nearby including railways, highways and the
Alliance, Texas, commercial airport.
“There’s a lot to like about this area from an infrastructure
perspective, and on top of that, there is a great academic
community and a ready workforce here,” he adds. “We will
be recruiting all different types of people from operators on
the factory floor to business development professionals and
engineers, and we will be able to recruit locally for all types
The new manufacturing facility, located in Hillwood’s 27,000-
acre, mixed-use development AllianceTexas, is currently under
construction and is expected to be completed in 2023. “We’re
very happy with the construction progress, and Hillwood did
a great job in laying the groundwork for an industrial facility,”
“As we’ve interacted with local regulators, we’ve had very
positive conversations and have been able to work with them
and engage with them to find solutions to any issues,” he
adds. “This type of collaborative relationship allows us to build
something that is world-class in terms of how it performs from
an environmental impact and worker safety perspective, and
to do it in a timely manner.”
The new facility will allow MP Materials to continue its
corporate mission to restore the full rare earth supply chain
to the United States.
“We live this mission every day,” Lund says of the company
that mines rare earth materials from the ground in California
The Mountain Pass Rare Earth
Mine and Processing Facility. It is
the only scaled site of its kind in
the Western Hemisphere.
27. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 25
and then converts them into high-powered magnets used
to power electric vehicles, defense systems, wind turbines,
robotics and more.
The AllianceTexas facility will be unique in the U.S. as it will
be the first fully integrated domestic manufacturing facility to
turn rare earth materials into high-powered magnets all under
one roof, restoring a fully vertically integrated U.S. magnetics
supply chain. This tidbit is extremely important when considering
that 90 percent of global rare earth magnet production takes
place in China. “We’ll be bringing back technology that was
largely pioneered in the U.S. Instead of manufacturing offshore;
we’ll be using our resources to manufacture onshore.”
The facility will have the capacity to produce approximately
1,000 tons of neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets per year,
and MP Materials recently signed an agreement to produce
alloy and magnets for General Motors’ electric vehicle program.
“GM has other operations in the region, and we’re pleased to
expand that local economic impact by becoming a key supplier
for them,” Lund says.
MP Materials expects to create 1,300 indirect jobs through
the construction phase and will employ approximately 150
skilled workers when the facility is completed. The company
currently employs approximately 500 people at its sites in
Texas, Nevada and California.
“Looking at the workforce and academic environment here,
we appreciate that there are great research universities and
large land-grant universities, but I have to say that I have been
most impressed by the strength of the community college
system and the breadth of the skills that students are learning
there,” Lund says. “I also appreciate their willingness to engage
with companies on ongoing professional development, and it’s
been a happy surprise to see that their goals of helping local
people build professional careers and helping companies build
workforces are so well-aligned with our needs.”
MP Materials promotes an owner/operator culture, where they
encourage employees to take ownership—and responsibility—for
the company’s mission. “We want them to have a voice and to
use that voice, and we want to create an environment where that
voice has an impact,” Lund says. “We
want everyone here to be passionate
about our mission, as it helps us better
perform as a company and makes for
happier, more productive employees.”
Keeping its workforce happy is
important to the company, which is just
one more reason why Tarrant County
fits the bill. “This area has the right
kind of living for everyone, whether
they want a semi-rural lifestyle or to
live in a vibrant downtown area,” Lund
says. “There are great school districts, a
modest cost of living, and an excellent
quality of life. When we’re recruiting
for local or specialized talent, that
makes a huge difference.”
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MAGNETICS
“There’s a lot to like about this area
from an infrastructure perspective,
and on top of that, there is a great
academic community and a ready
A rendering of the new
rare earth magnets facility.
28. 26 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
Diamondback Industries got its start in Tarrant County in
1999 and has been growing ever since. The original owners of
the business chose the county because they knew it would be
a great place to establish the oil and gas manufacturing firm
for one simple reason: They already called it home.
“There are many reasons to locate a business in Tarrant
County, including the lower cost of living compared to some
larger counties,” says CEO Benton Cantey. “There’s also a very
hardworking, smart and diverse workforce, and the county is
incredibly business-friendly. While the company’s founders
chose to locate here because they lived here, it’s hard to argue
against Tarrant County being one of
the most friendly business counties
in the state of Texas.”
An oil and gas manufacturer of down-
hole completion tools, ignitors and
explosives (also known as energetics),
Diamondback serves clients not only in
Texas, but nationally and internationally
as well. In addition to its headquarters
in Crowley, Diamondback maintains
offices in Midland and Poteet, Texas;
Greensburg, Pennsylvania; and Grand
Prairie, Canada. The company currently
employs about 150 people.
According to Cantey, Diamondback’s
intense focus on quality control and
customer service is what sets it apart.
“We do whatever it takes from a quality control and customer
service perspective to make sure that our clients are extremely
satisfied,” he says, adding that the Diamondback brand name
has become synonymous with customer service, innovation,
quality and integrity.
The company’s technologically advanced products, which
include igniters, disposable setting tools and power charges,
are 100% manufactured in the United States.
One of the reasons that Diamondback appreciates being located
in Tarrant County is the level of cooperation and collaboration
that the county provides. “Tarrant County is fairly hands-off
29. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 27
when it comes to working with businesses—there is not a lot
of red tape, which is very nice,” says Cantey.
“Tarrant County College’s (TCC) Corporate Solutions & Economic
Development Team is outstanding and very unusual in the
resources that they provide to businesses in Tarrant County,”
he adds. “It’s a significant asset of Tarrant County and it has
become a tremendous resource for us.”
TCC’s willingness to work with local businesses means that
companies can find the skilled workforce they need, according
“Not only does TCC train machinists, for example, but we’ve
been able to develop a relationship with the machining professor.
This allows us to hire top students out of his machining program,”
he explains. “If we have specific training needs, we can also
call TCC and tell them what we’re looking for, and they go
out of their way to train students so that they can come and
work for us. It’s fantastic, and it’s a very unusual resource that
most counties don’t have.”
In addition to making sure that their customers have everything
they need, Diamondback places a premium on employee
satisfaction as well. “While we have a deep passion for our
customers, our employee family is the driving force behind our
daily efforts,” Cantey says. “We have a very family-oriented
environment here, and our goal is to be as helpful to our
employees as we are to our customers.”
This includes making sure that employees are able to make
their kids’ games and other events that are often ignored in a
strict corporate culture, and providing unusual benefits that
add to employee satisfaction.
“It’s difficult to find good-quality people, so we’ve been
trying to create an environment in which our employees want
to stay with us for their entire careers,” Cantey says. “This year,
we put a new program in place that provides employee parents
of school-aged children with $75 per child to fill backpacks
with school supplies. We also have a food truck paid for by the
company that comes once a week to provide our employees
lunch. In an effort to assist with rising gas prices and
inflation, we also provided our employees with paid gas
cards for a few months.
“We are seeing that these kinds of unique, individualistic
benefits help employees want to have careers here,”
The company is also willing to train prospective employees
if they have the right attitude and initiative to succeed.
“We hire a lot of machinists, and while it helps to have
experience, if a candidate is hardworking with a willingness
to learn and a positive attitude, we can train them to
work in most of our positions,” Cantey says.
As for companies thinking of relocating to the area, the
CEO is a strong advocate for the benefits of Tarrant County.
“Tarrant County is just an easy place to do business, and
that is coupled with a talented and hardworking pool of
potential employees,” he says.
“It’s difficult to find good-quality
people, so we’ve been trying to
create an environment in which our
employees want to stay with us for
their entire careers.”
30. 28 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
Though CoreCo USA rebranded itself with a new name in 2020,
the geotechnical and environmental drilling services company
has always had a home in Tarrant County.
“Our original founders were all from Fort Worth,” explains
CEO Gary “Chip” Balk of the company that was previously
known as Stratacore/Pinnacle, Inc. “We just never moved.”
Balk is pleased that the company, which is licensed
to drill in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas
and Louisiana, chose to stay in the area for a number
“We love Fort Worth; there is a lot of infrastructure here,
and we’re an infrastructure company in the Dallas/Fort
Worth area,” Balk says. “We can easily get to the west
and east parts of Texas. And we also do a lot of work
in Austin, so this is a central location for our customers.
“Approximately 90 percent of our 43 employees are
from the Fort Worth area, so it’s also convenient for
them,” he adds.
Quality of life is important for CoreCo’s employees,
and Tarrant County offers numerous amenities for those
living in the area.
“That’s a super important factor,” Balk confirms. “Fort Worth
has that Texas feel—it’s the biggest small city out there. It
doesn’t have the glitz and glam of Dallas or Houston, but
there’s a lot to do here including the new Dickies Arena, a
world-class zoo and great restaurants. And it’s a safe place
to raise a family.”
31. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 29
Gary “Chip” Balk
“Nothing is built in Texas or in the
U.S. without a geotechnical company
drilling a hole; it doesn’t matter
whether that’s a house, high-rise,
road or a building for Willie Nelson.”
As one of the larger geotechnical drilling companies in Texas,
CoreCo has 12 working crews that provide services to every
type of construction client. The company drills at different
depths and provides core samples to engineering labs in order
to determine the makeup of what’s below the surface before
projects can be built.
“Nothing is built in Texas or in the U.S. without a geotechnical
company drilling a hole; it doesn’t matter whether that’s a
house, high-rise, road or a building for Willie Nelson—and I
can say that because we’ve been there,” laughs Balk. “Anything
that’s being built has to have geotechnical or environmental
drilling in front of it.”
One of the reasons that CoreCo has been so successful is
because of its commitment to its employees. This year, the
company was ranked as one of the best places to work by
Fort Worth magazine and as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing
companies in the U.S. by Inc. magazine.
“Our culture is different; there’s no question about that,”
says Balk, who notes that employee engagement is key. The
company believes in creating a sustainable plan where everyone
is empowered to think and safely execute for customers, the
industry and each other.
“We spend a lot of time growing our culture to help people
build careers,” Balk adds. “McDonald’s can give you a job; I want
to give you a career that will support your family long-term.”
To this end, CoreCo hires military veterans as part of Texas’
“We Hire Vets” program. At the same time, the program is also
a second-chance company.
“We have an Air Force base here and there are quite a few
veterans in Fort Worth and San Antonio,” says Balk, an Army
veteran himself. “We also offer the second-chance program
because it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a past; you can build a
great career here. And you don’t have to have a college degree.”
CoreCo is also working in partnership with Tarrant County
College (TCC) to bring professionalism and awareness to what
has essentially been a mom-and-pop industry to this point.
“A lot of people in the field don’t have any formal education
or certification; they’ve just received on-the-job training,” Balk
says. “It’s super hard to find best-in-class drillers.”
TCC is in the process of assisting CoreCo in developing a
curriculum for future employees. “It’s a dying industry because
people with 30 or 40 years of experience are aging out and
retiring, and there’s no backfill for them.”
Balk points to the presence of a dedicated corporate partner
in education as another selling point for the region.
“It’s groundbreaking to be at the front of the industry helping
to produce the next batch of drillers,” he says. “There’s such
a demand for geotechnical drilling right now that it’s a little
wild,” he adds. “There’s no shortage of work; we just need
enough rigs and crews to drill it all.”
32. 30 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
Though ITS ConGlobal has had an operational footprint by
way of its work for BNSF Railway for many years, the company,
which aims to be the world’s go-to experts in industrial terminal
operations, expanded that footprint with its newest container
yard, in partnership with NorthPoint Development, in early 2021.
The company also opened a new office in the AllianceTexas
Logistics Hub to support its work and partnership with
Hillwood’s Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) the same year.
“It all started with the services that we provide for our
client, BNSF Railway, which has rail terminals using our
services here in Fort Worth,” explains CEO Brant Ring.
“The growth in cargo flows through BNSF’s automotive
and intermodal terminals to the surrounding AllianceTexas
Logistics Park created an opportunity for us to launch
a new container yard to support the growth in those
ITS ConGlobal has been working within Hillwood’s
Mobility Innovation Zone since its inception.
“We appreciate the welcoming, innovative, business-
friendly environment that is Texas, and especially North
Texas,” Ring says. “Here we have access to and great
partnership opportunities with leading higher education—career
and technical—institutions; city, county and state government;
access to emerging technology companies and leading business
enterprises. All of those necessary contributors to innovation
are also linked by world-class transportation infrastructure
which we can and do support.”
33. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 31
As part of North America’s supply chain, the company’s
operational footprint spans the U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica.
“In real terms, we load and unload vehicle and intermodal
trains for the North American freight railroads, we position
railcars (referred to as switching) for those same clients, and
we mechanically repair, store and handle intermodal shipping
containers and chassis for the world’s steamship lines, intermodal
equipment providers and leasing companies,” Ring says, adding
that the company also provides drayage services for shippers,
cargo owners and warehouse/distribution centers.
Worldwide, ITS ConGlobal has roughly 3,500 employees,
with several operations in Texas, including in Houston, El Paso,
Laredo and the Fort Worth area. The company’s operations
span the U.S from the East Coast to the West Coast and every
area in between.
“In order to make our vision to become the world’s go-to
experts in industrial terminal operations a reality, every one of
our coworkers needs to have a clear sense for how to measure
whether or not—and how—their daily work contributes to
progress,” he says of the company’s corporate culture. “That
takes us to our mission, which is to take care of each other,
our customers and our business.
“If each one of us can say that we did something to care
for one another, to take care of a customer or to take care of
business, we can say that we had a good day,” he continues.
“If we can point to having done something for all three, then
that’s a great day and we are on our way to achieving the
vision because we will be safer, we will be more effective and
we will be moving the business forward.”
Though industrial terminal operations can be a competitive
field, Ring says that ITS ConGlobal spends more time focused
on competing with itself than with others, and focuses on
honing and improving its business against its own expectations.
“Increasingly, our work in that regard centers on wrapping
our operations and services in advanced technology so that
we can execute our services safely, effectively and efficiently,
and so that we can remain relevant,” he says.
Setting up shop in Tarrant County was easy and straightforward,
according to Ring, and he appreciates the continued support
that the company has received.
“This has been largely due to partners including local
government agencies like Tarrant County and the long-standing
partnership that we’ve held with Commissioner
Gary Fickes, along with Michael Morris and his team
at the North Central Texas Council of Governments;
Mike Berry and his team at Hillwood; Jason Byrne
and Molly Kanthack at TCU’s Center for Supply
Chain Innovation; the good folks at Region 11
Education Service Center and, of course, Shannon
Bryant and the team at TCC. All that’s to say
we’ve been made to feel very welcome and right
at home here in North Texas.
“In addition to all the business-friendly and
supportive features that Tarrant County and North
Texas offer, it is also a great place to raise a family,”
he adds. “We have access to great schools, sound
infrastructure, and events and experiences that
enrich our lives away from work.”
“If each one of us can say that we did
something to care for one another, to
take care of a customer or to take care
of business, we can say that we had a
34. 32 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
Despite the fact that BrightCrowd’s technology team is
distributed all over the country, when CEO T.J. Duane decided
where to locate the company’s headquarters in 2020, he chose
Tarrant Country for a number of reasons.
“When we moved back to the area in August 2020 from
Northern California, we wanted to be closer to family,” he
says. “The lifestyle is more laid-back here, and there’s very
little that causes stress in a typical day.
“In Northern California, you can’t go a block without traffic
and you don’t see that here,” he adds. “It’s much more spacious,
and the cost of living is substantially lower.”
While Duane and co-founder and Chief Technology Officer
Andreas Zoellner are both based in Tarrant County, the company,
which produces digital flipbooks for companies, colleges,
universities, high schools and more, has employees in Oregon,
California, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and New Mexico.
The idea for the digital flipbook was born when Duane was
at Stanford Business School, working with another student to
determine a way to offer an alternative to LinkedIn.
“We were trying to take aim at LinkedIn to create a better
version with real relationships and connections, and with more
detailed skills,” he explained. “It turned out that there wasn’t
much of a desire for a better version of LinkedIn, but people
were interested in a more private, intimate version of Facebook.”
Facebook’s early days were similar to Duane’s concept of a
digital version of a closed group, where everyone knew each
other and shared photos and information with people they knew.
Today, BrightCrowd’s digital flipbooks are used by everyone
from Ivy League schools and other colleges and universities to
Netflix, J.P. Morgan, Johnson & Johnson, company sales forces,
technology companies and more.
“While a lot of other organizations use directory software,
our main distinction is that we’re more than just a functional
tool that includes a name, address and phone number,” Duane
35. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 33
says. “Our books are more experiential. People are able to share
their stories, and the flipbook acts more like an icebreaker than
a traditional directory.”
Duane says flipbooks give members a chance to present their
authentic selves by including photos and stories about what
motivates and excites them. “It’s a much richer version of an
alumni or employee directory with people sharing photos of
themselves and their kids or pets, or hobbies like skydiving,”
Duane says. “They can find other members who like to watch
“It’s about giving people a place to show themselves—not in
a way like TikTok or Facebook that is much more promotional,”
he adds. “And it’s directed to a very limited audience with
whom they have a lot in common.”
For example, uAspire, a nonprofit organization geared to
providing young people with the financial information and
resources necessary to find an affordable path to and through
college, set up the books for a staff retreat in Boston.
“We were so grateful to have BrightCrowd to help our team
get to know each other better,” says CEO Jaclyn Piñero. “The
platform has been a central and important tool to make early
strides in connecting the organization.”
Lorraine Sarles, director of development at the University
of Texas School of Law, uses BrightCrowd books for all of its
reunions. “The books have been extremely successful with the
highest rate of alumni engagement I’ve ever seen,” she says.
In fact, participation rates are five to 10 times higher than
participation on social community platforms since more people
feel comfortable sharing on a private platform. The books
can be launched without any software installation or systems
integration, pages can’t be indexed by search engines, and the
data is never sold.
The company’s mission is to help people more deeply
understand others, and its company culture embraces that
goal. “Our team ranges from folks in their 20s to people in their
60s who spend a tremendous amount of time doing customer-
facing work,” Duane says. “Working remotely, they
spend all day online communicating over Slack, Zoom
and email to ensure they don’t just get a sale, but
that our customers get a lot of value out of what
A number of BrightCrowd’s team members worked
for decades in higher education in alumni affairs,
including at Washington University and Cornell
University, which helps them to better customize the
product to meet customers’ needs. “Understanding our
customers and their pain points is crucial,” Duane says.
While he may have moved back to North Texas
for family reasons, Duane appreciates that Tarrant
County is a welcoming place to work.
“A lot of tech companies are moving to Texas,
and a big part of the reason for that is that it’s
incredibly business-friendly,” he says.
“In Northern California, you can’t
go a block without traffic and you
don’t see that here. It’s much more
spacious, and the cost of living is
36. 34 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
As a manufacturer of aircraft seating, RECARO Aircraft Seating’s
products go all around the world. Yet when the company, which
is headquartered in Germany, was looking for a place to serve
North and South America, they landed in Tarrant County.
“Back in 1998, one of our biggest customers in the U.S. was
American Airlines, and they requested that we have a stateside
presence,” explained RECARO General Manager Sunitha Vegerla.
“We did a market study and determined that the Dallas/Fort
Worth area was the best place to be.
“It’s centrally located to various airlines in the area and across
the U.S.,” she continues. “From a logistical point of view, it made
sense to be close to the airport and the Gulf, while having
well-connected road systems and rail transportation nearby.”
While the location was prime for their business, the access
to talent was important, too. “All of the technical universities
and schools around us provide a good source for recruiting,”
RECARO, which has 450 employees in Texas and 2,100 employees
worldwide, manufactures seats for commercial aircraft for airlines
across the globe. “We manufacture everything from
economy-class seats to business-class seats to full-
flat seats and the furniture that goes around them,”
Vegerla says. “While our products are primarily related
to seating products, we do have the competencies
for other interiors as well.”
In addition to locations in Fort Worth and Germany,
RECARO has production sites in Poland and China,
and a sister facility in South Africa that makes fiber
composite products for the aircraft industry. In
North America, the Fort Worth facility has complete
market responsibility for its products from A to Z,
including sales, marketing, engineering, production,
supply chain, logistics, quality and customer service.
While the company does have competencies
in other areas, including the manufacturing of
automotive seats, baby seats and strollers, the
primary focus of the Fort Worth location is on aircraft seating,
which sets them apart from their competition.
“We are also a family-owned, German-engineered company,
which makes our culture quite different from our competitors,”
Vegerla says, “and we make sure that this family-oriented
culture is reflected in our core values and leadership principles.”
One of the ways in which they do this is by focusing on a
long-term strategy rather than short-term financial benefits.
“Our first priority is safety, not just in our products, but for our
people,” Vegerla says. “We are also focused on developing our
people, which is one of the reasons that we offer international
One program, titled Fly, sends future leaders and “high
potentials” through a one-year training program where they
work with colleagues from other sites, including the headquarters
in Schwaebisch Hall, Germany. “During this year, they get to
meet and work with peers at other sites,” she says, adding that
RECARO also offers an international exchange program for
its Texas employees interested in working in other countries.
37. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 35
The company’s rich benefits program covers every member
of an employee’s family at no cost to the employee and they
also provide additional perks, such as giving employees who
are first-time parents a baby seat as a present. “We want to
welcome them to the family with our own products,” Vegerla
says. “This is part of being a family-owned company; we take
care of our people and that reflects in our work culture.
“While we’ve only been in Texas for 24 years, RECARO has
been in business for over 100 years—50 of those years with
aircraft seating—and that includes generations of retirees,” she
adds of their success in keeping employees
with the company for the long term.
When RECARO considered its location, it
also took into account how living and working
in North Texas would affect their employees.
“The cost of living here compared to other
metroplexes in the U.S. is still affordable,” she
says. “It is also a safe area and the schools
and universities are very good. It’s a well-
RECARO sees these connections firsthand as
a member of the Fort Worth Chamber, which
is very active in supporting new businesses
in the area.
“The chambers do a good job in connecting
businesses by holding meet-and-greets where
companies looking to set up a business here
can meet other business owners and get their
questions answered,” Vegerla says. “This really
helps them get the lay of the land before
undertaking a market study.”
Personally, Vegerla appreciates the vibrancy
of the area and the fact that it is a multicultural community.
“Not only is there a diverse population, but the area provides
international exposure as well,” she says. “It is also very active
in terms of activities. Regardless of what age you or your kids
are, there is always something going on.
“Businesswise, we’re connected to international communities
because we work with airlines all over the world, but these
connections aren’t just made during business meetings; you
find them at home as well,” she adds.
“Not only is there a diverse
population, but the area provides
international exposure as well. It is
also very active in terms of activities.”
39. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 37
Learning and development
are critical to recruitment
and retention of quality
employees. by heide brandes
40. 38 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
ince 2019, the executive team at Dolese, a
full-service construction supply and material
operation that employs more than 1,000
people in Oklahoma City, has gathered up
their “cohorts” for training and leadership
The top management leads a group called
Cohort One, which is composed of 16 to 17
employees identified as next level leaders who then work with
Cohort Two, a group of roughly 30 other employees. Those
two groups then lead and work with a third group called the
“These employees have gone through specific programs at
the executive team level, and now Cohort One, Cohort Two
and our Supervisory Group are actually involved in what we
have termed the ‘DLE,’ or ‘Dolese Leading Effectively,’” says Jack
Hillemeyer, director of Learning and Organizational Development
for Dolese. “It is a two year program that covers a variety of
topics from talking about trust, talking about diversity, equity
and inclusion; talking about collaboration and accountability
and talking about wellness. While the program is for developing
our managers, our supervisors and our directors, it’s really for
them to be able to focus on the development of their people
and lead their teams better while leading themselves better.”
At Paycom, one of the nation’s leading online payroll services
and HR software solutions companies, employee training programs
for new hires, career progression and leadership are designed to
unlock potential to maximize success. As part of that, Paycom’s
Learning and Development team of instructional designers,
content creators, learning partners and client trainers focus on
equipping a workforce for a lifelong career at the company by
providing the tools, resources and support to help the employee
“In an employer-competitive job market, attracting and
retaining top talent is a pressing issue across industries. The
ability to easily train and engage employees not only gives
workers the skills needed to succeed in the tight labor market
but moves business forward,” says Jennifer Kraszewski, vice
president of human resources at Paycom.
For businesses today, that investment in employees is paying
off when it comes to employee satisfaction levels.
42. 40 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
Tools in Your Toolbox
Learning and development (L&D) programs are now becoming
just as important a recruitment tool as traditional benefit
options like retirement savings and health plans. In fact, skills
training is one of the top benefits that younger workers look
for in a new job, according to a 2021 Gallup survey conducted
on behalf of Amazon. In that survey, 66% of workers ages 18-24
ranked learning new skills as the third-most-important perk
when evaluating new job opportunities, behind only health
insurance and disability benefits.
What’s more, according to the 2019 “Future of Work and
Employee Learning” report from Sitel Group, 79% of employees
responded that they felt it was important that a future employer
offers formal training programs. One-in-4 also
said they have not attended training in the
past because they felt their manager didn’t
think it was important.
Formal training programs and continuing
education for employees may be key
recruitment tactics, but that same training
makes a difference in retention numbers as
well. The Sitel group report showed that more
than one-third of employees said they would
leave their current job if they were not offered
training to learn new skills. Yet despite those
numbers, 19% of workers say their employers
don’t offer any training at all or have less-
“That lack of skills gap understanding can
lead to turnover as more than one-third of
employees say they would leave their current
job/employer if they were not offered training
to learn new skills; emphasizing the growing
need for organizations to invest in their
people through training and learning and
development,” the report concluded.
Workplace training is not only vital for
retaining talent but for recruiting new talent
as well. Nearly 80% surveyed by Sitel said
former training programs offered by potential employers were
important to them when searching for a job. Among employees,
men are 81% more likely to say a formal training program
offered to employees is important, and 88% of Gen Z said it
is important to them that a future employer offers this.
“The question is how do we create unique cultures? How
do we create unique leadership opportunities and how do
we create insights and opportunities to show our employees
how we value them,” says Dolese’s Hillemeyer. “We have seen
good numbers, but we’re still working at it in a lot of areas.”
It comes down to the fact that when employees feel like
their growth is stagnant, they will seek new opportunities
In a recent Gallup survey,
66% of workers ages 18-24
ranked learning new skills
as the third-most-important
perk when evaluating new
job opportunities, behind
only health insurance and
43. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 41
TCC Corporate Solutions & Economic Development
2301 Horizon Drive | 3rd Floor | Fort Worth, TX | 76177 | 817.515.7821
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44. 42 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
with companies that provide more training support from the
top down. Nearly half of employees surveyed said they felt
their employers would penalize them for not having certain
skills, and more than 30% of employees said they hesitate to
ask for skills training because they think their lack of skills or
knowledge would be used against them.
Ultimately, employees who feel like their training and
continuing education are not prioritized will have a higher
chance of seeking managers at other companies who do. So
far, companies like Paycom say the learning opportunities are
paying off as a good investment of the company’s resources
and time. According to internal polling at Paycom, nearly 9
out of 10 employees said they had opportunities to learn and
grow at Paycom within the last year.
“Paycom’s leaders know the value of L&D and believe it is a
critical strategic element of the business,” Kraszewski says. “Our
success as an organization starts and ends with our employees.
We want the best and want to equip them with the tools and
resources to unlock their potential and maximize success. This
required the intentionality of our strategies and relying on
experts in adult learning to lead the charge.”
Building a Viable L&D Program
A successful learning and development program should
include both skills training that meets the company’s needs
and opportunities for personal development. Even skills that
aren’t directly tied to a job—like language classes or personal
finance training—can show employees that a company cares
about their personal growth as well as the company’s growth.
“Training that’s more connected with purpose and values tends
to be better at retention and motivating folks,” says Nadine
Levitt, education advocate, author and the CEO and founder
of Wurrly, an educational technology platform based in Santa
Monica, California. “The concept that we all like to feel capable
and we all like to feel like we are continually developing is the
driving idea behind this. There is more awareness that the stuff
that doesn’t seem linked to your job, like the yoga classes or
whatever, may not seem like an obvious investment in your
45. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 43
“In an employer-competitive job market,
attracting and retaining top talent is a
pressing issue across industries.”
46. 44 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
workforce, but there is a lot of research to suggest that if you’re
relaxed, if you feel connected or if you feel appreciated, your
job satisfaction and outlook absolutely impact outcomes.”
Leaders should have a clear understanding of the objectives
of the L&D program with a clear goal in mind. On the flip side,
if the department leaders do not have a clear objective or idea
of what they hope to achieve by offering training, then the
likelihood of success wanes.
Employees themselves can be the strongest resource when
it comes to building out a new L&D program. Simply asking
employees what they feel are the biggest learning needs and
how they would like to learn is the first step. Meeting with
HR or supervisors in each department to identify needs or
developing a company-wide survey of types of training programs
available can also jumpstart a program.
And the investment doesn’t have to be huge either. Companies
should look at the resources they already have in place. Employees
and leadership both can be an easily-tapped repository of
knowledge and information. Other departments may rely on
outside vendors or programs or software.
Paycom stands out in the L&D space because the company
not only uses education to advance its own team members but
is also providing the technology that keeps other organizations’
workforces engaged and productive. To help its clients foster
productive conversations of their own, Paycom recently added
a collection of diversity and inclusion courses to its digital
platform, the Paycom Learning Application. The collection
includes key topics such as bias, fostering inclusion, inclusive
leadership, hiring diverse talent and more.
“We believe in supporting the whole person,” Kraszewski
says. “Employees today are looking for mental, physical and
financial health accommodations. They also want to be invested
in work. They want someone to support their career journey.
This happens across the organization and doesn’t have to be
limited to L&D.”
Learning in the Face of Adversity
At Dolese, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic created a question
of how the company would continue its L&D momentum when
employees were working from home and the central office was
closed. To avoid losing employee engagement, the different
“Cohort” teams were broken down into teams of three to five
people who would meet once a month over video chat to discuss
topics ranging from leadership skills to health and wellness.
“What those coaching circles led to was employees genuinely
getting to know those three or four other people that they
were in that coaching circle with at a level that would have
never occurred,” Hillemeyer says. “It built trust and community.
It built on the idea that continual learning was something that
was important to the company from the CEO down.”
Ultimately, the goal of any company’s L&D program should
be to make every employee feel like they have an opportunity
to improve and grow within a company.
“A lot of this professional development and the cultures of
companies are shifting to the fact that there is something more
to what motivates human beings, and that the collaborative
effect of the workforce isn’t just for the top superstars anymore,”
Levitt says. “The hidden underlying message is ‘I care about
you, I want to offer you something, and this is what I can
do.’ It shows your company sees their employees as a three-
dimensional person, not just as a worker. Participants said that
they found it really meaningful in terms of job retention—they
like that feeling of appreciation.”
47. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 45
Does your company have
Contact us to learn how we can help you get ahead.
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48. 46 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
he new world of work demands that corporate leaders
manage the performance of employees and teams in
creative and unique ways. Traditional boundaries,
definitions and expectations of employee achievement
have been turned upside down. Today’s employees are accustomed
to working from home, but managers aren’t comfortable or
prepared to evaluate performance without being privy to daily
work performance and behaviors. This begs the question:
How can leaders evaluate entire work divisions consisting of
hybrid or fully remote work teams?
Add performance twists to increasing workplace trends—
including decreased work hours, global and diverse teams,
and a premium on work/life balance— and it becomes more
complicated to implement effective organizational performance
In these fluid conditions, it’s no surprise that managers are
finding it more difficult than ever to assess employee performance.
Overwhelmed by the hype surrounding the Great Resignation,
many employers are hesitant to jeopardize the delicately evolving
new employer-employee dynamic with performance demands
and assessments, as businesses compete to not only recruit talent
but retain it. Worries about how to navigate the new landscape
of work performance have created an increased scrutiny on the
overall process and related policies, propelling some companies
to reassess their own employee assessment.
“It’s become increasingly difficult to manage employee
performance in light of high turnover, as employees no longer
commit to long-term growth with one company,” says James
Burda, a sales leader in the North Texas market who manages
a hybrid sales team. The Center for Sales Strategy recommends
differentiating performance tracking of the individual sales team
members from the leading indicators of the entire sales team.
“I’ve got to hold my individual salespeople accountable while
also managing our combined sales benchmarks,” Burda says.
“Tracking is critical, and continuous coaching can make a world
Not just reserved for the sales sector, there are also concerns
that high accountability measures and demands on employee
performance may push workers away in a time of already extensive
turnover and record resignations. Employees are more inclined
to stay with organizations where they receive performance
feedback and are given clear, direct and measurable objectives.
Their desire to leave is often triggered by leaders and companies
whose direction and guidance on workplace expectations is
sparse, if it exists at all.
Here are some useful recommendations to transform your
company’s performance review policies and practices into both
a competitive advantage and employee engagement and
& the New World of Work
The annual evaluation is being redefined and reimplemented.
by jennifer blalock, edd
49. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 47
Kick the Annual Calendar to the Curb
Annual evaluations are so last decade. Instead, consider daily,
weekly and monthly check-ins and work progress updates. In Dr.
Gleb Tsipursky’s 2021 book, Returning to the Office and Leading
Hybrid and Remote Teams, he recommends weekly evaluations,
which include self-assessment and reporting by the employee;
identified accomplishments during the prior week and priorities
for the week ahead; and supervisor evaluation and assessment
comparing goals to actual achievements. PwC (Price Waterhouse
Cooper), a global Fortune corporation, has conducted several
surveys to take the temperature of workplaces. One of their
key findings is that 60% of employees prefer frequent, informal
feedback on a regular basis.
Polish Off Your Performance Measures
For far too long, performance metrics have been exclusively
centered on time, effort and quantitative achievements. New
innovations in the amount of time at the office and the way
that work time is measured have challenged this myopic way
of thinking. From four-day workweeks to abbreviated work-
day shifts and increased vacation time, the amount of hours an
employee spends working is no longer a valid indicator of how
well they’ve performed. Instead, consider client satisfaction,
retention and other variables such as teamwork, collaboration
Create a Feedback-Centered Work Culture
Feedback interactions don’t need to be scheduled or formal. Open
up Monday morning meetings by inviting supervisor shoutouts,
weekly wins and colleague compliments. Invite and encourage
positive performance exchanges by coaching supervisors to
model the way publicly for the company and privately in his/
Make Performance Feedback a Shared Exchange
Sure, the 360° performance review offers employees the chance
to provide feedback anonymously and safely to leaders and direct
supervisors. But don’t be afraid to open the floor for employees
to share their feedback on leadership’s performance, company
policies, strategic priorities and more in meetings, open forums
and via other communication platforms in a more accessible
format than the traditional 360°.
Develop a Template for the Review
Educators leverage rubrics for a reason—they provide the student
and the teacher with a shared understanding of how the grading
system works and what excellence looks like. By developing a
shared performance evaluation policy (supporting document and
adopted template for the review, including examples for any
associated rating), you’re establishing a shared understanding
and common starting point for both the employee and the
employer to build the conversation.
“It’s become increasingly
difficult to manage employee
performance in light of high
turnover, as employees no
longer commit to long-term
growth with one company.”
— James Burda
50. 48 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
the community. For performance feedback to become more of
a positive and collaborative experience, celebrating positive
performance is a must and will go a long way in debunking
any organizational concerns about the nature of performance
reviews in your company.
Commit to Clarity and Consistency
Employees can’t be held accountable if your company’s
performance evaluations aren’t clear and consistent. Communicate
company benchmarks, organizational goals and milestones
clearly and rate everyone’s performance consistently. Connect
to organizational and individual goals.
The only certainty in the performance feedback process is
change. More shifts are likely to come as the world of work
reshapes and aligns to respond to new organizational norms.
The most effective performance feedback programs will remain
agile and proactive, anticipating the prioritization of continuous
development and workplace achievement for both the individual
employee and the organization. Prepare your company today to
lead your employees to their fullest potential with an innovative
performance feedback program that lights the path ahead.
Transparency for All
The employee performance review, whether weekly, monthly
or annually, involves at least two people. Thus, the learning and
development process and the employee’s access to the resources,
such as the evaluation form and associated rating scales or
rubrics, should reflect that. Certainly, supervisors need to be
trained on and fully understand the company’s performance
policies, but the employee, too, deserves an opportunity to learn
about, question and consider the process so they can prepare
and participate fully by performing accordingly all year long. That
will also help employees who are promoted into management
roles in the future.
Celebrate the Positive and Provide Evidence
Prove your case and support your feedback by citing specific
examples. Focus on what the employee did well and help draw
the path forward to improving performance by identifying areas
of improvement with detailed recommendations and ideas. Make
sure to celebrate the good news. When an employee is doing great
things at work, don’t just tell them about it in a performance
review. Share it with the team, with the company and with
Ready to dig in even more deeply for
your 21st century performance feedback
program? Check out these recommended
reading resources to help develop
your company’s next-gen performance
evaluation plan and add them to your
• Feedback Mentality: The key to unlocking
and unleashing your full potential by Dr.
• HBR Guide to Performance Management
by Harvard Business Review
• How to Give Employees Performance
Feedback & Resolve the Resistance You
Know You’re Going to Get! by Ross Blake
51. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 49
About Tarrant SBDC
Tarrant Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provides management
and technical assistance to local small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs
throughout Tarrant County. The consulting services provided are at no cost
and training services are at a nominal fee.
Business consulting services are customized, one on one face-to-face or
virtual at no cost. Consulting services provided are business plan
development, capital acquisition, marketing, regulatory compliance and
more. The Tarrant SBDC provides services to a diverse population, including
special emphasis groups; women, minorities and veterans who are seeking to
start or grow their business.
Access to Capital
Accounting & Bookkeeping
Cash Flow Models
Licensing & Permits
Special arrangements for the disabled will be
made when requested in advance. Advising
services are offered by the Tarrant Small
Business Development center without regard to
race, color, age, national origin, religion, sex or
disability. Special provisions will be made for
limited-English speaking individuals.
For accommodations, please contact the
Tarrant SBDC at 817-515-2600.
The Tarrant SBDC is hosted by Tarrant County College and is one of twelve
field centers of the North Texas SBDC Network. Funded in part through a
cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
SBA’s funding is not an endorsement of any products, opinions or services.
52. 50 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
hese days, employers are becoming more proactive in
supporting employees’ mental health. Although the
global pandemic shined a light on the necessity for
mental health needs to be addressed in the workplace
in times of crisis, employers are now more active than ever in
developing initiatives that promote employees’ mental health
According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration, 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 12
suffers from mental or substance-use disorders. Research from
global consulting firm McKinsey & Company suggests there was
a sharp spike during the COVID-19 pandemic, making employers
more concerned about their employees’ productivity and
Another report from the U.S. surgeon general acknowledges that
America is at a health disadvantage where people spend a lot of
money on health care, but the outcomes are not commensurate
with the money spent. According to the report, having a healthy
workforce is critical for economic development and recovery.
Ignoring the importance of mental health will create an unhealthy
workforce due to the lack of a healthy community from which
workers are drawn.
“Some common red flags employers need to pay attention to are
absenteeism, frequent sick call-ins, inability to meet production
Some employers are proactively instituting mental health
initiatives in the workplace. by james ndone, phd | illustarion by lisa bair
53. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 51
targets and high turnover rates,” says Licensed Independent Clinical
Social Worker (LICSW) Zadok Nampala, based in Minneapolis.
Before the pandemic, data from the American Psychiatric
Association revealed that employees with unaddressed depression
experienced productivity reduction to the tune of 35%, leading
to a loss of $210.5 billion a year due to increased medical costs,
absenteeism and reduced productivity.
Usually, unaddressed mental issues are associated with the
stigma surrounding mental health. The National Alliance on
Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 8 in 10 employees say stigma
prevents them from discussing their mental health and seeking
“There is a lot of shame and stigma surrounding mental illnesses,
where people with mental issues are perceived as weak,” says
Nampala, who has been working with companies to bolster their
mental health awareness programs for over 15 years.
Nampala notes several observed causes of mental health
issues among employees.
“Some managers and supervisors are condescending and tend
to micromanage their juniors, and this leads to burnout, which
is eventually manifested in a desire to quit or look for new
challenges elsewhere,” he says. “Some employees also struggle
with the work-life balance, destructive feedback and unfair
promotions [of others], which result in mental breakdowns.”
Mental health conversations have become a norm in some
organizations, with efforts stretching back before the pandemic.
For instance, some employers took a proactive approach in
identifying symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Large
organizations started training managers to recognize mental
health issues affecting employees, with some digital tools and
software training programs teaching managers how to detect
Leading From the Front
The American Psychological Association (APA) has noted
several organizations that have been at the forefront in making
employees’ mental health a priority. One of the organizations
is Blackrock, a multinational asset management organization
that has launched initiatives to promote mental health, such
as a company-sponsored subscription to the Calm app (for
meditation). Also, Blackrock created a peer network of mental
health ambassadors in addition to bringing on board an assistance
“There is a lot of shame and
stigma surrounding mental
illnesses, where people
with mental issues are
perceived as weak.”
— Zadok Nampala
CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER
54. 52 | CORPORATE.TCCD.EDU
Although Nampala points out that workplace mental health
efforts are more imperative today, he also offers suggestions
on how employers can continue promoting mental health in
“Employers need to understand mental health is a critical
aspect of employees’ well-being,” he says. “Coming up with
mentorship programs, mental health onboarding, just like employers
do orientation, can help organizations foster proactive mental
“Some organizations give bonuses to employees who go to the
gym for a certain amount of time or days. What is preventing
such employers from offering bonuses to employees when they
visit their counselors and therapists?”
Nampala suggests that employers and employees should
normalize the dialogue about mental health and make it a regular
workplace conversation. There is also a need to eliminate the
stigma surrounding mental health.
“We need to kill the ‘weakness’ tag regarding mental health,”
says Nampala, who has a waitlist of over six months. “Such a
long waitlist shows how significant mental health services are.”
As businesses return to normalcy, there is an opportunity to
create a mentally healthy workplace culture and mechanisms
that organizations should have installed a long time ago, he
says. This will bolster employees’ productivity and reduce the
chances of mental breakdowns.
provider to offer its employees several mental health benefits
like virtual care.
Another organization that has been focusing on employees’
mental health is the YMCA. When the pandemic began, it initiated
virtual coffee chats to connect employees. It also convened a
Mental Health Thought Leader Cohort that initiated a “To Go”
package with mental health kits. Moreover, the YMCA came
up with Dinner Table Resilience, which offers videos and other
tools that staff and members can utilize during family dinners
to build resilience.
F5 Networks, a Seattle-based technology firm, added therapy
services to employees’ medical coverage. These initiatives were
similar to those adopted by global consulting firm Ernst & Young;
the National League of Cities (NLC), a nonprofit organization
for municipal governments; and the American Public Health
Association (APHA). This Washington-based organization champions
the health of all people and other communities in the D.C. area.
Still, for Nampala, employers have generally not done enough
to promote mental health awareness in the workplace, but
he likes the upward trajectory. There is a lot that needs to be
done, and in time, Nampala believes that offering mental health
services will help a potential employee decide whether to apply.
“From my experience with counseling and working with
employees, there is room for improvement,” he says. “Some
employers have tried, but some need to take employees’ mental
According to a survey conducted by the Society for
Human Resource Management (SHRM), 88% of HR
professionals believe offering mental health services
is critical to increasing employees’ productivity, with
86% believing that doing so can boost retention.
Organizations should create relevant mental health
policies and conduct regular training for supervisors
and managers to spot any employee mental health
incidents. Employers need to ensure that mental
health is not a taboo topic in the workplace, and they
must play a key role in promoting an environment
that encourages employees to open up and talk
about their mental issues with trained professionals.
55. TCC CORPORATE SOLUTIONS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | 53
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