By Betsy Price, Mayor –
Years ago, when a farmer needed a new barn, he’d gather his neighbors together and turn it into a community project – a “barn-raising.”
The premise was simple: Many hands make the work go faster. As important, it brought the community together – everyone had a stake in building something new and better.
That “barn-raising” ideal – working together for a common good – is still relevant today. In fact, it’s a strategy we strongly believe in here in Fort Worth as we seek to expand economic growth and opportunity.
Embracing that cooperative spirit has been crucial to helping Fort Worth attract enterprising and expanding businesses. It’s all about producing sustainable, well-paying jobs even during these challenging financial times. The key has been community-wide cooperation. Public/private partnerships are the backbone of what we do.
One only has to look at the example of Alliance Texas to see the power of strong partnerships between business and local government. Alliance Texas represents a public investment of a little more than $400 million that has produced a $40 billion economic impact for North Texas.
Anchored by the world’s first industrial airport and one of the world’s busiest inland ports, Alliance Texas is home to 265 companies and more than 30,000 employees.
Despite the nation trends, Fort Worth continues to use public/private partnerships to create jobs. This past summer, GE Transportation announced it will invest $96 million in a new plant in North Fort Worth creating roughly 700 new high-tech manufacturing jobs by 2016. Long-time Fort Worth-based Alcon Laboratories plans an expansion that will bring more than $200 million in investment and hundreds more well-paying jobs to Fort Worth. The list goes on and on, providing examples of how we work just as hard to help existing businesses expand as we do to attract new business partners.
So, what’s Fort Worth’s economic development strategy? The answer can be found again in public/private partnerships. Yes, we have a dynamic economic development tool box, and are keen on finding ways to help businesses build and expand within their margins. In return for economic incentives, in Fort Worth we look for specific business commitments – not just goals – when it comes to hiring tax paying Fort Worth city residents, utilizing Fort Worth-based minority or women enterprises, or investing in a particular part of our community.
When it comes to encouraging business development, it’s a partnership, and one that’s paid great dividends for the businesses and people of Fort Worth. In the end, that’s how things work: Many hands grabbing hammers and working toward a common good that benefits all.
There is a sense of stewardship here in Fort Worth. We understand that each investment is precious – not only to those investing, but to those that investment will impact.
And so, we work hard to encourage the kind of growth that will benefit both. Growth for growth’s sake is not sustainable, but building something that is an asset to the fabric of your community will leave a lasting legacy – like a strong new barn.
Betsy Price is a Fort Worth native and began her career in public service as Tarrant County Tax Assessor in 2000. She graduated from the University of Texas in Arlington and before being elected to office, owned Price Cornelius Title Service.