James D. “Jim” Spaniolo, hired in 2016 as president and CEO of the North Texas Commission, has announced that he will retire next summer.
North Texas Commission Board Chairman Chuck Allen announced Spaniolo’s decision in a message to commission members Thursday, Nov. 16.
“Jim will remain active in his role during the search for his successor,” Allen said. “He’s allowing us plenty of time to search for a successor without the need for an interim. Our goal is to find someone who can embody the values and spirit of the team and the members, and someone who can lead the organization into the next phase by implementing our renewed mission.”
Spaniolo became the head of the commission Oct. 3, 2016.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in the last year in charting a direction for the future, and I look forward to continuing to work with our stakeholders and our Board until the transition is completed,” Spaniolo in a news release. “This is a unique and valuable organization, and I’m proud to be associated with its excellent work for the region.”
Spaniolo was president of the University of Texas at Arlington from 2004 to 2013. Under his leadership, UTA worked aggressively to be recognized as a major research university. Spaniolo also pushed increased campus housing to change the university’s “commuter school” image and created the College Park District to weave the school more deeply into the fabric of Arlington and the surrounding area.
He left the university to return to his native Michigan.
“The word that immediately came to mind is bittersweet,” Allen said. “Jim has done an outstanding job putting the North Texas Commission in a good position and he’s reached his goals earlier than anticipated.”
Spaniolo’s selection to head the commission was met with universal praise from Fort Worth officials, including former Fort Worth Mayor Ken Barr, who had previously been a chairman of the commission.
“He already has a network of acquaintances in place across the region, so he starts with good relationships and a strong reputation already in place. He is exactly the kind of leader NTC needed – not centric to only Dallas or Fort Worth, but rather a leader with a regionwide standing,” Barr said in an interview with Fort Worth Business CEO magazine in 2017.
The North Texas Commission was formed July 29, 1971, while Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was still under construction, to be a regional marketing organization for the entire North Texas area. Today the 12-county region is home to more than 7 million people – 5 million more than when NTC was formed. That’s more people than the populations of 29 states in a land area larger than New Jersey and Connecticut combined.
“I look at North Texas as a land of opportunity, which has experienced tremendous academic, economic and population growth and the projections are more,” Spaniolo said in the CEO interview. “As the region fills up with people and economic entities, there are lots of challenges associated with it. You got the transportation, water, quality of life.”
While the cities all compete for population and business location and relocation, the commission looks to the entire area.
“We stay out of that,” Spaniolo said. “We’re not involved in the recruitment process other than to promote our region. The individual cities and communities are going to do their own recruitment. They have their own economic development staff and the chambers are involved.”
Includes Fort Worth Business Press archive material