2019 Top Fort Worth/Tarrant County Stories
Approved by Fort Worth voters in 2014, the $540 million, 14,000-seat venue was conceived and developed by businessman Edward P. Bass and a public-private partnership among the City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, the state and a group of private-sector participants including foundations, individuals and organizations. The venue is owned by the City of Fort Worth and managed by a not-for-profit operating entity, Trail Drive Management Corp.
The new arena promises to help change the perception of Fort Worth, attracting national acts, such as The Black Keys and George Strait, as well as to provide a new, modern venue for the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo. Initial results are promising as the 2020 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is on track to break its all-time attendance record.
While Dickies Arena is quite a showstopper in its own right, it will be a key factor as Fort Worth moves to upgrade the Fort Worth Convention Center and grow its hotel business.
Will Rogers Coliseum Tower
While Dickies Arena is new, Fort Worth also dusted off the nearby and the long-dark Will Rogers Memorial Center Tower shined its light again. The iconic tower is again lit every night, something the city hasn’t experienced for decades – so long, in fact, that most any person you ask can’t tell you the last time they saw it lighted.
Charles Schwab comes to North Texas
Charles Schwab announced in November it was buying rival TD Ameritrade in a $26 billion transaction. And oh, by the way, the discount brokerage leader also announced the combined company will eventually relocate its headquarters to Schwab’s new campus in Westlake. Both companies have a sizable presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and this news means the area in and around AllianceAirport will continue to be a hotbed of jobs for Fort Worth and Tarrant County, particularly in the financial services area.
Continued importance of AllianceTexas
As the Schwab news illustrates, 30 years after opening, the development in and around Alliance Airport continues to pay dividends to Fort Worth and North Texas.
Over 30 years, AllianceTexas is estimated to have had an economic impact of $76.43 billion. More than 45 million square feet has been developed and more than 61,600 direct jobs have been generated by 500-plus companies in the development.
There’s more coming in the future, too.
Amazon Air chose Alliance Airport as a hub for its unique distribution base. And Hillwood is leveraging its AllianceTexas multimodal development to create a cutting-edge center of innovation that will be a global catalyst for the future of mobility. The company plans to collaborate with its anchor corporations, future customers, policy makers, regulators, entrepreneurs, and academic institutions to develop a mobility innovation center for partners to develop, test, scale, and commercialize advanced mobility technology and business models. As the sign says, “Watch This Space.”
TCU and UNTHSC Medical School
Classes began at the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine July 15, four years after the two schools officially joined together to develop the school. Local pharmaceutical executive, business investor and entrepreneur Paul Dorman provided full first-year tuition to the inaugural class of medical students. In addition to teaching the science of medicine, the new school is focused on physician-patient relationships. “We’re the first medical school in the country that really is focused on training our young physicians to be on how to communicate with you,” Dr. Stuart Flynn, founding dean, said at a recent health care forum.
Tarleton State University Fort Worth Campus
Tarleton State University opened the first public university campus in Fort Worth Aug. 1 on property along Chisholm Trail Parkway. Fall classes began Aug. 26 at the new campus – and it was already out of space. The first building – a three-story, 76,000-square-foot facility built on 80 acres donated by Walton Development – will soon be joined by others. The campus is projected to serve 9,000 students by 2030.
TEXRail heads to DFW Airport
The 27-mile TEXRail commuter line from Fort Worth to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport began service Jan. 10. North Texas transportation officials celebrated with an on-board party Dec. 31. The $1 billion project was split evenly between federal and local funding sources. The line has nine stations and projections are that there will be around 14,000 daily riders by 2035.
“The city deserves and will have innovative and progressive transportation,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said Dec. 31. “This will give us a golden opportunity to look at expanding the rail going south toward the Medical District where there are nearly [40,000] jobs.”
Law enforcement and Fort Worth
In October, a white Fort Worth police officer shot Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman, through a bedroom window of her own home. The officer was responding to a call about an open front door. The officer resigned and was later arrested on a murder charge.
The shooting was only the latest in simmering tensions between the Fort Worth Police Department and many in the minority community. The city in in the process of hiring a police monitor and has recently hired in a new position a director for the Diversity and Inclusion Department.
There were problems at the city at the head of the police department, too. The city fired its chief of police and recently named a longtime member of the force, Ed Kraus, as the new chief.
American Airlines new headquarters, new DFW Airport terminal
American Airlines opened its new headquarters in Fort Worth and, in a continuing show of economic strength for the area, the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport announced plans to build a sixth terminal that would open by 2025 and provide up to 24 new gates for U.S. and international flights, with many of those gates expected to be used by American.
Growing entrepreneurial ecosystem
Fort Worth and North Texas continued to show growing support for entrepreneurs and startups with a big splash during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Highlighted during that week was Sparkyard, a free collaborative platform that connects new and existing Fort Worth companies with specific business resources that help accelerate their growth. Cameron Cushman, UNTHSC’s director of Innovation Ecosystems, pitched the initial idea that led to the creation of Sparkyard. Cushman has also started a podcast called, Innovate Fort Worth, to highlight creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the area.
Billy Bob’s Texas has hosted Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and countless other musical legends. Now it has hosted some touring legal legends – the Texas Supreme Court. Attorneys for the owners of Billy Bob’s Texas squared off before the Texas Supreme Court on Oct. 10 at Texas A&M Law School during one of the court’s sessions on the road, arguing over whether a law firm should be disqualified from further involvement in the case. The hearing at Texas A&M University School of Law attracted throngs of attorneys, judges, law students and interested observers. At the end of the year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled, saying that the attorneys can stay on the case. Wonder what the Texas Supreme Court’s tour bus was like?
Firestone & Robertson sold to Pernod
The makers of TX Blended Whiskey likely celebrated with a drink this year when they were acquired by Pernod Ricard USA, the domestic arm of the global spirits brand. Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., started by two Fort Worth Business Press Forty Under Forty honorees, Leonard Firestone and Troy Robertson, has to be counted as one of the major success stories in the growing Texas distilling industry, launching in 2012 as an award-winning brand with a passionate following. How Texan is the whiskey? Each bottle top is hand-made from boot leather. Open a bottle and celebrate their success.
Trinity River Vision changes
The year began with tension between two of the key players in the project: the City of Fort Worth and the Tarrant Regional Water District. By the end of the year, the Panther Island project had a new leader and the Trinity River Vision Authority board of directors has carried out the recommendations of a report from a consulting firm, resulting in a restructuring and reorganization of the TRVA. But as 2019 fades into the sunset, project officials are scrambling for solutions to pay the bills and keep the $1.17 billion flood control/economic development project afloat beyond the end of the year. Will next year see a change? Or at least some spare change from the federal government?