Wichita Falls celebrates two Wichitans of the Year as economy continues to grow

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — While the economy in Wichita Falls continues to grow, members of the community at the State of the Economy forum talked about what steps need to be taken to continue to grow the city and help it compete with others.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Ron Kitchens said the key to building a strong economy is increasing the number of people within the community.

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"You know, our holdback is people," Kitchens explained. "So we've got to recruit more people to the community. That's a big component of what we're talking about."

Kitchens said job growth and low unemployment contribute to the area's economy, but a crucial part of that process is celebrating citizens' contributions to the community.

The city recognizes its exceptional citizens through the annual Wichitan of the Year award.

This year, there were two award recipients for the first time in Wichita Falls' history. The first was Dale Nelson, who couldn't attend the event but expressed his gratitude in a video.

"All I can say is thank you so much," Nelson said in his video. "I'm very proud of the honor."

The second recipient was Joel Jimenez, who said the people in this community make the award so special.

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"It's just overwhelming gratitude for the people we love here," Jimenez said. "I'm part of the people, and it's just tremendous. You know, it caught me off guard."

Nelson and Jimenez have served Wichita Falls for decades and built legacies of impact as community leaders.

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