Business is Thriving in Fort Worth
If 2011 and the first half of 2012 are any indication of things to come, then business will continue thriving in Fort Worth through the remainder of 2012 and beyond. Last year was tremendously successful for economic development in our community. The Fort Worth Chamber participated in 39 site visits and secured 15 new business and retention deals – an extraordinarily high conversion ratio for a non-regional economic development organization. These business opportunities represented 3.2 million square feet of real estate space, $600 million in capital investment and approximately 3,500 jobs.
The significance of our 2011 deals was reinforced by an economic impact study at the end of 2011, which reported that these deals will yield an estimated $1.2 billion in economic output for the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and Fort Worth and Northwest ISDs. Prepared by Austin-based Impact DataSource, the report projected direct and indirect figures related to economic output, job creation, salaries, and taxable spending as a result of these companies’ construction and expansion activities. The report also determined that the Fort Worth Chamber’s $1 million annual budget, which supports local business development and retention, national business recruitment and retention, international business development and workforce development, returned $17 million in new tax revenues.
Fort Worth’s ongoing economic development growth would not be possible without the strong partnership between the Fort Worth Chamber’s economic development team, the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. A January cover story in the Fort Worth Business Press detailed the unique nature of this partnership and how it has resulted in successful recruitment and retention in this highly competitive economic development environment.
This year, the Chamber’s recruitment efforts have been more targeted to specific geographic areas. The pro-business atmosphere we have fostered at the local, regional and state level is highly attractive to businesses located in states that have implemented rigid business regulations related to the environment and labor issues. Fort Worth has been the beneficiary of several significant expansions and relocations from these and other states; we see that trend continuing.
In addition, we remain focused on retaining our current businesses. Cities across the nation have been severely impacted by the economic downturn, and they are actively recruiting in an attempt to increase their tax revenues and bring much-needed jobs to their communities. Fort Worth’s global brands are top targets for recruitment, and we must be equally aggressive at retaining these companies.
These strategies have already helped us secure two new deals so far this year. LinkAmerica Corporation, a regional asset-based transportation and logistics services provider, opened a 24,000-square-foot corporate office and training center in CentrePort Business Park. The office will house the company’s executive team and will include a new corporate training center. LinkAmerica’s expansion to Fort Worth created approximately 140 jobs.
In addition, an industry-leading biopharmaceutical company will be announcing a campus expansion, representing $30-35 million in capital investment and 40 new jobs.
In the life science arena, Dr. Scott Ransom, president of the UNT Health Science Center, convened a group of industry CEOs at the request of the Chamber to conduct a strategic analysis of the market – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – in Fort Worth and the larger DFW region. The result was a diverse, 10-point plan that will not only aid in recruiting and retaining companies, but will also broaden the footprint of the healthcare and life science industries and their many ancillary providers.
Although 2011 will be hard to beat, 2012 has already given us many reasons to be optimistic about the opportunities for job creation, capital investment and additional gains in existing square footage absorption and new construction. We are especially excited about the expansion of space in Sundance Square through the construction of three new office buildings and a public plaza by developer Ed Bass. This project will add 221,000 square feet of office space and 41,500 square feet of retail space to Fort Worth’s thriving downtown community. In addition to bringing new tenants to Fort Worth, this project will create 200 construction jobs.
We have started this year off on a strong note. With many more deals in the pipeline and the continuation of our recruitment and retention efforts, we are confident that we will continue to experience economic growth in 2012.
GE Manufacturing Solutions Locomotive Plant Collecting Top Real Estate Honors
One of the most significant deals for Fort Worth in 2011 was GE Manufacturing Solutions’ selection of a site in north Fort Worth for its newest locomotive manufacturing plant. The company, formerly known as GE Transportation, purchased an existing 670,000-square-foot building and is expanding the size to approximately 900,000 square feet in order to accommodate production of 250-300 locomotives each year. When it opens at the end of 2012, the GE facility plans to create about 500 high-tech positions, and may create an additional 250 positions through 2016.
The locomotive plant project represents a $100 million capital investment in Fort Worth and Denton County. The State of Texas was a strong partner
in this expansion project, providing support through the Texas Enterprise Fund. The City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County also participated in the public-private partnership.
The size and impact of this deal on the North Texas community has garnered national attention. In May, Site Selection named the GE Manufacturing Solutions locomotive manufacturing plant as one of its Top 10 North American Deals in 2011. Area Development also recognized the facility as one of its “Projects of the Year” in the publication’s June 2012 issue. Locally, the Dallas Business Journal recognized the facility as the winner of its “Industrial Deal of the Year” during the 20th annual Best Real Estate Deals celebration in April.
In addition to collecting top national and local real estate honors, Fort Worth’s GE Manufacturing Solutions plant continues to generate media attention. The Erie Times-News is paying special attention to its development since Erie, Pa. is home to GE’s headquarters. Jim Martin, the business editor of the Erie Times-News, visited Fort Worth in January to talk with the economic development team about why Fort Worth has been so successful at recruiting new businesses. The resulting multi-part series, which appeared in the publication at the end of January, talked about the lessons that Erie could learn from Fort Worth.
We’ve Got a New Look
Recently, the Fort Worth Chamber’s economic development division introduced a new marketing piece to assist with national and international business development efforts. The new marketing piece is a comprehensive package that describes the wealth of assets Fort Worth has to offer any business seeking to relocate or expand in North Texas. The piece is composed of a colorful four-page brochure that graphically depicts life in Fort Worth and nine inserts providing details about the city’s major employers, culture, workforce and quality of life.
The new marketing piece was designed to elevate the Fort Worth brand, particularly in today’s highly competitive economic development environment. It also balances Fort Worth’s Western heritage with its current position as a thriving, modern business community. By doing so, readers more clearly see a premier business destination with a solid presence in a wide range of global industry sectors that have been fostered in Fort Worth for generations.
The piece was launched in March, and preliminary feedback has been extremely favorable. We have already started using the piece during prospect meetings with positive results.
In the coming months, the Fort Worth Chamber will also launch a new website. Design elements from the marketing piece will be carried over to the new site, and the economic development section will supplement the information provided in the printed package.
If you would like to receive one of the new Fort Worth marketing pieces, please contact Lacy Kreger at (817) 338-3392, or go here for the PDF.
Forging Relationships in China, Easing Access to the Middle East
In December 2011, the City of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce had the honor of leading a delegation of elected officials and energy business leaders from across the nation to Beijing, China for the “Clean Energy for Sustainable Cities: Sharing Best Practices and Technologies” conference.
The event was hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, the U.S. Department of Energy, Sister Cities International and the Ministry of Housing and Urban–Rural Development for the People’s Republic of China. This was an historic conference for all participants because it was the first time representatives from the United States were invited for an open dialogue with senior Chinese government officials about issues related to energy production and sustainability.
Since the Barnett Shale is known throughout the world as the center for development of natural gas drilling technology, the Chinese want to partner with Fort Worth and North Texas companies that are on the cutting edge of gas extraction methods. These new partnerships could open the door for several local businesses and may create new jobs and opportunities for American employees to gain a new perspective on business with China.
In addition to strengthening Fort Worth’s ties with China, a new air carrier is making it easier for local travelers and businesses to access the Middle East. In January,Emirates Airline launched the first nonstop flights between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Previously, travelers to Dubai had to go through Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Frankfurt or Houston. The direct flight eliminates these stops and reduces travel from North Texas to Dubai by four hours – from 20 hours to 16 hours.
Dubai International Airport is the fastest-growing transit hub in the world, and having a direct route to this destination opens a new gateway for North Texas to the Middle East. Through Dubai, travelers can easily move to other locations throughout the Middle East, India and Africa.
Fort Worth Chamber Named a Top 20 Economic Development Agency
For the fifth time in eight years, Site Selection magazine named the Fort Worth Chamber as one of the nation’s Top 20 economic development agencies. Each year, Site Selection names the top-ranking organizations based on total capital investment, investment per capita, total jobs created, jobs created per capita, contribution of the local or regional economic development organization toward attainment of these numbers, overall economic vitality, depth and breadth of economic strength, diversity of industry, ability to generate breakthrough deals and the ability to provide documentation for all projects.
Recognizing Excellence and Opportunity
Fort Worth, the DFW Metroplex and the State of Texas continue to receive
- Texas was identified as the top state for growth and business development by CEO Magazine. (2012)
- Fort Worth was ranked as No. 4 on the list of “Best Large Cities in U.S. for Jobs” by NewGeography.com. (2012)
- The Fort Worth Chamber was named a Top 20 Economic Development organization in the U.S. by Site Selection magazine. (2012)
- Fort Worth is the fastest-growing city in North Texas according to the North Central Texas Council of Governments. (2012)
- The Dallas-Fort Worth area was named America’s fourth-best market for corporate relocation and expansion by Site Selection magazine. (2012)
- Texas ranks 2nd among top states for corporate relocation and expansion by Site Selection magazine. (2012)
- The Dallas-Fort Worth area ranked 3rd in the nation for adding private sector jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2011)
- Fort Worth ranked No. 24 on the list of “2011 Best-Performing Cities” by the Milken Institute. (2011)
- Fort Worth ranked No. 7 on the list of “Top U.S. Downtowns” by Livability.com. (2011)
- CNBC ranked Texas 2nd among the best states in the nation for business. (2011)
- Fort Worth is the fastest-growing major metropolitan area in the U.S. according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (2011)
- The Fort Worth region is home to two of the top three fastest-growing communities in the U.S. – the City of Haslet and the City of Keller – according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2011)
- The Dallas-Fort Worth region was named No. 1 in job gains among U.S. metropolitan cities from January 2010 to January 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics. (2011)
- The Dallas-Fort Worth area was recognized by Builder as one of the “Top 20 Healthiest Metropolitan Housing Markets.” (2011)
The Fort Worth Chamber is proud of the many accomplishments achieved over the last six months that have brought new jobs, capital investment and revenues to our city and have helped drive a strong economy in the region. These would not have been possible without the support of our partners at the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County and Workforce Solutions, as well as our “Controlling our Destiny” investors. Your support of our economic development program has been critical in ensuring we maximize opportunities for growth and position ourselves for long-term economic vitality. We sincerely appreciate your investment, and we look forward to providing you with further updates on our economic development successes.
David Berzina, CEcD
Executive Vice President
Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce