The economic indicators for Fort Worth are all trending positive with a few caveats regarding inflation, labor and public health, according to speakers and panelists at the Tarrant County Real Estate Forecast on Jan. 27.
Despite the solid economic fundamentals, Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker made it clear changes are coming to the city’s economic development strategies.
“Today was a good example of all the fantastic things that are happening,” she said in an interview after the event. “We just have to be stronger competitors. And I think, for me, I’m making a priority in my administration and using a lot of my time and political capital to get it done.”
One issue that irritates Fort Worth leaders is the fact that 21 headquarters moved to Dallas-Fort Worth in 2021, but none of those landed in Fort Worth proper, according to information from the Dallas Regional Chamber.
Speaking of those numbers, Parker noted that Fort Worth was the only Texas city at the height of the pandemic that wasn’t receiving a Fortune 500 company relocation. The city needs to be more proactive, she said.
“We’re going to do it a little differently,” she said to the Real Estate Forecast audience. “I think what you’ll see in the next few years – it’s a long game, it’s not a short-term play. I’m relying on some of you in this audience that are private sector partners and been doing this for a really long time – you know what the playbook should look like, and we just need to utilize it differently. And then we’re going to put the right talent in these jobs that we need at the chambers to really push us forward.”
Fort Worth has been too complacent about economic development, Parker said.
“We can’t afford to do that anymore because the growth is already coming,” she said. “You’re going to surpass a million people. We have to be more selective at what kind of companies and employers we want here in Fort Worth.”
She said Fort Worth’s biggest problem is being in the shadow of Dallas.
“And we get mad about that. We get irritated about it,” she said. “We won’t do anything about it. And you have to market the city differently. And I’ll continue to be irritated about it, but also execute.”
Fort Worth has plenty to offer for economic development, Parker said, particularly since the city received word Jan. 19 that $403 million would be coming for the Trinity River Vision/Central City flood control project.
“It’s been an albatross for a long time,” she said. “Four hundred million to put water under bridges is a big deal.”
Now the city has a great opportunity, she said.
“You can see a lot of interest already percolating across the country,” Parker said. “There’s no other city in the country – especially one as economically sound, fastest growing, all those factors – that has the potential to double the size of their downtown.”
For commercial real estate developers, the numbers and prognostications for Fort Worth were by-and-large positive. The city and the area have moved to the top ranks in terms of industrial, multi-family, office and retail measurements.
The industrial market has been particularly strong in North Texas as companies in the ecommerce space such as Walmart, Amazon and others have set up shop in the area. According to a report from Transwestern, the Dallas-Fort Worth industrial market broke records in the fourth quarter with demand reaching an all-time high of 41.7 million square feet and driving vacancy rates to all-time lows.
M2G’s Jessica Miller Essl said the area has plenty of headroom for industrial growth.
“CBRE just reported, and it’s really from a national average standpoint, we’re the second largest industrial market, DFW is, in the nation,” she said. “They’re looking at distribution space or whatever they’re looking at. They’re going to continue to focus on DFW.”
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.