The Chamber hosted its final Economic Development Update of 2019 where Chris Strayer, EVP of Economic Development, gave updates on the Fort Worth Chamber’s business retention, and expansion efforts and guest speaker Andy Taft, President of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., discussed Downtown Fort Worth’s current and upcoming projects and growth.

Andy Taft, President of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. (L) and Chris Strayer, EVP of Economic Development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce (R).

Strayer’s updates included a summary of 2019’s job growth, including the annual goals and projects won, as well as the four-year plan, a project breakdown, and the target industries that the Economic Development team is focusing on.

View full presentation here.

  1. 2019 In Review
    • 2019 goal: 500 jobs
    • 2,620 new jobs added
    • Projects Won: Ben E. Keith, Mid-States, Chip 1 Exchange, Sally Beauty, Panoramic Doors, Aeromax, Stanley Black & Decker (1.2 million sq. ft. distribution center in North Lake and a 650,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Fort Worth), KCF Tech, and America Specialty Health
  2. Since 2018
    • 4-year goal: 2,000 jobs
    • 4,925 new jobs added
  3. Project Pipeline
    • 85 active projects
    • 88 new projects
    • 16,000 jobs in pipeline
  4. Project Breakdown
    • 27% Office
    • 73% Industrial
    • 10% Distribution
    • 90% Manufacturing
    • 40% Back Office/RD/Tech
    • 60% Headquarters
    • 10% Existing Business
    • 90% Attraction
    • 15% International
    • 85% Domestic
  5. Target Industries
    • Aerospace/Aviation
    • Food Processing
    • Medical/Medical Devices
    • Life Science
    • Headquarters
    • Tech/Software Development

“We want to create jobs that support every type of skill set in the region for the people who want to create a ladder effect with distribution jobs,” said Strayer. “We want to create the higher wage jobs so people have the ability to move up and create more disposable income for them and their families, and to just create a better quality of life for them. When we’re out doing our proactive marketing, we’re really looking at what those manufacturing opportunities are, what those technology opportunities are, and the next opportunities to create this higher wage that provides jobs.”

For the second half of the update, Taft focused on the two square miles of Downtown Fort Worth and the direction that it’s headed, but mentioned that Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. is also focused on the expansion into the cultural district and into Near Southside. He touched on three apartment projects underway, two on-board projects for high-rise residential, new hotel offerings, and a digital marketing campaign that DFWI has launched to bring people to the North Texas area.

  1. Downtown Fort Worth, Inc.
    • Development: JFK Tribute in Fort Worth, Hillside Apartments
    • Events: Main Street, Parade of Lights, Main Table
    • Marketing: Downtown social media, DO Downtown
    • Research: Conducting research on the State of Downtown Fort Worth
  2. Apartment Complexes
    • Hampton Ave: 350 units, under construction at the recently demolished Old Tandy warehouse space
    • Townhomes on Samuels Ave: 274 units, under construction
    • Kelley at Samuels Ave: 333 units, recently completed
  3. High-Rise Residential
    • 901 Commerce: 302 units, around the corner of Hilton and Convention Center Arena
    • 1000 Weatherford: 15-story tower between Weatherford and Belknap
    • Expanding more on residential, Taft added, “The people who live in those developments have money in their pockets and they are the workforce. They get hamburgers and drink beer and patronize movie theatres and do all the things that residents do; they fill in a big domestic gap in the downtown economy. It used to be that downtown was full of office buildings and residences and that mix of human beings drove the economy, but when the interstates opened up and they emptied out the center city of people into suburban development. Right now, we’re bringing those people back by the thousands and they are generating an economy all their own. Downtown Fort Worth’s economy is jobs, hospitality, residential, day trippers, conventioneers, and business travelers.”
  4. Hospitality
    • Fairfield Inn & Suites: Recently rebranded as Fairfield, near Convention Center
    • Hampton Inn & Suites
    • Sinclair Marriott Autograph: Considered to be the most technologically sophisticated hotel in the country
    • AC Marriott: Currently under construction and topped out, 235 rooms
    • 714 Main: Future Kimpton Hotel
    • Significant increase in number of hotel rooms added to downtown from 2015-2020.
  5. DFWI’s Campaign
    • Digital Marketing campaign in high tax states, which has been proven to export office users to North Texas in the form of an ad that tells the story of Fort Worth and our corporate office space.
    • This campaign has been viewed over 12 million times in states like California, Oregon and Washington.
    • DFWI plans to hit the cities that have responded to this campaign in order to physically get Fort Worth’s name out there.