Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce leads by example when it comes to promoting better well-being in the business world.

A healthy workforce can positively impact a community’s bottom line. No one knows that better than The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. That’s why Chamber leaders helped bring Blue Zones Project to Fort Worth and continue to be one of the project’s biggest community champions. 

From the time Blue Zones Project was first introduced in 2014 through Blue Zones Community certification in 2018, the Chamber has supported efforts to make Fort Worth the healthiest city in the nation. That has meant doing a lot more than giving shout-outs from the sidelines. The Chamber has been an integral player in helping transform business in Fort Worth, starting with its own team.

Early on, the Chamber became a Blue Zones Project Approved Worksite by adopting best practices for employee well-being. Achieving that goal supported the health and wellness of Chamber employees and provided a model for other area business leaders. “Everyone recognizes that to be successful as a business, you have to have the right talent, and to have the right talent, you have to be a workplace that supports your workers,” said Brandom Gengelbach, Chamber president. “That means making sure they can accomplish their goals and dreams and get more out of life than just a paycheck.”

“Fort Worth gets that,” he added. “Businesses want to be around where talent is, and talent wants to be around vibrant communities, where they can grow and develop. That’s key.”

To meet the expectations of today’s workforce, the Chamber encourages businesses to adopt proven well-being practices, and it sets the right example by incorporating Blue Zones Project Power 9 principles -- nine common traits of the world’s longest living people -- within its own walls.

First was the concept of Right Tribe. Research shows that behaviors and attitudes are contagious, so it’s important to surround yourself with people who will lift you up. This idea resonated throughout the Chamber, said Netty Matthews, vice president of business engagement. “I love the folks I work with,” she said.  “With Blue Zones Project, the number one thing I’ve enjoyed is the team-building part.” That includes training together for a 5K fun run, dart tournaments, and heated games of table tennis.

Maintaining a lifestyle that includes Moving Naturally is another key to better well-being. At the Chamber, walking meetings have become common, Matthews said. “We may go on a walk along the Trinity when we're talking about business,” she said. “It’s not just about personal health, but the enjoyment of sharing ideas and building our team.”

Day-to-day business can take its toll, and shedding stress is a must. That’s where the Chamber’s own Blue Zones room comes in for Downshifting, another key Power 9 principle. Set up with a comfy chair, pillows, music, and mood lighting, the space makes it a little easier to get away from the stresses of the workday to relax for a bit, be mindful, and then start anew. “It just makes a huge difference to reset, and I think that's what happens with all of our employees,” Matthews said. “When we take a moment to just either go and jump rope for a few minutes or to go into the Blue Zones room, it just takes you away from whatever you might be focused on, briefly hit a reset button, and move onto the next project.”

The Chamber also looked for ways to adopt and promote other Power 9 principles, like Family First and Plant Slant eating, and encouraged area businesses to do the same to enhance the well-being of the entire community.

“People are attracted to areas where you are promoting the growth and development of the individual. And for Fort Worth to have a healthy lifestyle where we have recreational trails, where we have bike rides, where we have healthy workplaces and where we promote that, that shows that we're putting the individual ahead of the dollar,” Gengelbach said. “I don't know many communities that really promote that or develop around that common goal of health and wellness. Blue Zones has done that for us, and we're proud to be part of it.”