InMarket: Cowtown taking flight as international business hub

Carolyn Poirot Business Press Correspondent

When it comes to doing international business – worldwide, Fort Worth is caught up in “the perfect storm,” says David Berzina, executive vice president for economic development at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. With its central location, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (which has 50 international flights daily), Alliance Global Logistics Hub (which boasts air, rail and highway intermodal transportation options), Interstate 35W linking the United States to both Canada and Mexico, a large and growing workforce, the low cost of living and its All-America City designation, Fort Worth is “an easy sell” for international business, Berzina says. “D/FW International Airport makes Fort Worth no more than four hours away from any major city in North America,” Berzina pointed out. That’s the major reason some international companies are returning some manufacturing to the U.S. It has a lot to do with why Motorola Mobility chose to assemble its new Moto X smartphone – the first major new product produced under Google ownership and the first smartphone ever produced in the U.S. – in Fort Worth. The Moto X is being assembled here in Texas rather than in China, in part, because of Fort Worth’s central location and the proximity of D/FW Airport and the Alliance Global Logistics Hub, which is designated “an inland port,” with its own foreign trade zone complete with “port of entry” customs offices. What it means for Fort Worth is 2,500 employees shipping 100,000 phones a week, all over the world. “It’s a matter of logistics. Our central location allows Motorola to make good on their promise to get the customized phones to their customers in four days or less,” Berzina said. “Off-shore is now on-shore. It’s the biggest ‘re-shoring’ – bringing off-shore manufacturing back to the U.S. – in the world, and everyone is citing it, by way of example.” In that same vein: American Airlines now has direct flights to Shanghi and Hong Kong, and Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa, headquartered in Fort Worth, has expanded sales to China. Williamson-Dickie, a global workwear company headquartered in Fort Worth, recently set up a distribution center in Toronto for distribution across Canada, expanding Dickie’s global presence to include the Middle East, China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Europe and the United Kingdom. The same is true for Justin Boots – another iconic Fort Worth brand now distributed in Australia, among other places. Two years ago, when Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said, “Let’s concentrate on establishing and expanding international opportunities a little more,” the chamber and D/FW Airport leaders jumped at the opportunity, Berzina recalled. “Fort Worth is expanding its international footprint,” Price said. “Thanks to American Airlines and D/FW Airport, we have built a lot of international bridges.” In recent months Price and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings have led delegations to strengthen business and civic ties on trade missions to Rio de Janiero and Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Lima, Peru. Next month, a Fort Worth delegation is going to Morocco to meet with the King of Morocco on matters of world trade. “All markets today are global, and it’s vital to our city’s economic future to strengthen our international ties. We’ve been working hard on building our international relationships and our work continues to pay off for North Texas,” Price said. “North Texas is literally the gateway to America.”

In Market is a column written from the perspective of a plugged-in business journalist about business happenings in and around Tarrant County. Got an idea for In Market? Email Robert Francis at