Business Owners Summit: Fort Worth on cusp of adding several new companies

Robert Sturns at Business Owners Summit

Fort Worth is trying to make large corporations realize that the city is open for business.

Robert Sturns, Director of Economic Development at the City of Fort Worth, has hinted that a sizeable amount of new companies are headed to the city, on the heels of other recent company expansions and continued economic growth.

“We are very, very busy between the partners at the city, partners at Fort Worth Chamber, as far as attracting new companies here,” Sturns said addressing area business leaders at the 2020 Fort Worth Business Owner’s Summit.

The event, co-presented by The Capital Chart Room and Fort Worth Business Press, took place Tuesday at River Crest Country Club.

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Sturns reported there are a total of 170 new projects currently in the pipeline. Some have just begun the site selection process, while others are currently under active negotiation or at the final stages.

Out of the total projects, 45 are imminent or almost confirmed, Sturns said. However, he did not disclose the scale of the various projects.

City officials, in 2017, had set an aggressive goal of attracting at least five Fortune 1000 and Inc. 5000 company headquarters in five years, as part of the first-ever economic development strategic plan

“I don’t know if when we set that we really thought we were going to get five headquarters here. But, I think you have to set those far-reaching goals,” Sturns said. “It says, ‘this is what we envision Fort Worth to be.'”

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The growth target remains unaccomplished, though.

There are 42 Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Fort Worth is home to only two of them, namely: American Airlines and Range Resources.

XTO Energy Inc. moved its corporate headquarters away from Fort Worth in 2019. Whereas, the iconic Fort Worth-based Pier 1 Imports recently began bankruptcy filing and closed up to 450 stores.

“Fort Worth traditionally has been a little heavier on the industrial manufacturing side. So, when we’re talking about these corporate headquarters, being able to attract that talent base is really what’s going to help us address this issue,” Struns said. “It is a really competitive landscape we’re in, not only within the Metroplex but across the country.”

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The city did, however, make some notable strides in 2019.

Hardware manufacturing giant Stanley Black & Decker announced the opening of a new plant in Fort Worth that will add 500 full-time jobs. American Airlines moved into a new $350 million location. Several new commercial projects are also underway at AllianceTexas.

“If you’re talking to a Fortune 500 technology company, ‘Cowtown’ may or may not stroke their imagination very much,” Sturns said. “We’re really struggling with how do we hold on to that heritage and how do we maintain what makes Fort Worth Fort Worth, and still speak to the fact that we’re a growing, progressive community. It’s been a little bit of a balancing act.”

Sturns added that Fort Worth has a lot of land still available for development, compared to other major cities. “We’re continuing to identify where we can exploit some opportunities and where we can set new businesses into the mix,” he said.

Sturns was also optimistic about growth possibilities in the Near Southside area, where the new medical innovation district, iter8, is taking shape. Iter8 is a health innovation community that aims to integrate area medical institutions, universities and businesses.

“It’s a huge area – 2,100 acres,” Sturns said about the medical innovation district. “We’re not going to turn the entire area into a collaborative space. But I do think they’re loads of possibilities on what we can drill on specific areas and take advantage of some of the activities that have been happening.”

Sturns also saidDowntown Fort Worth lacks Class A office spaces. But he said he is hopeful as demand increases in the near future, more office spaces will be on the offering.

The first-ever Fort Worth Business Owner’s Summit highlighted various aspects of the modern business world, as well as how business owners could capitalize on Fort Worth’s growing economic stature.

The event presented several speakers and a panel that discussed ways to increase the value of one’s business.

Daniel Pullin, the dean of TCU’s Neeley School of Business, assessed the new generation of workforce.

“We have to really understand this next generation of talent,” Pullin said. “What do they value. What will motivate them to join your organization and stay and build your organization.”

Pullin touched upon five workforce trends when it comes to millennial and Gen-Z generations:

• Working with purpose: “A lot of companies are increasingly positioning their value propositions to their employees, almost as a social enterprise: This organization exists for a greater good. It goes even beyond profits. It’s about creating products and services that make a difference in humanity.”

• Enterprise flexibility: “It’s important to match the jobs and skills that are necessary with people who can deliver those. I think that requires an innovative approach to how you build your teams. We have to design and change management processes to scale up and scale down teams quickly.”

• Talent platforms: “Companies are engaging technology. More savvy recruiters are using platforms and processes to really advance their talents’ aspirations. For e.g., companies are creating databases, asking employees to fill out digital profiles that might speak to their skill sets, so that they can quickly search and look for talents who have those specific skills or desires.”

• Change of speed: “It’s all about creating a culture that almost operates as a think-lab, the kind of place that’s designed to allow managers to clarify their directions to support, change management programs. Not as an every-now-and-then sort of thing. But really change.”

• Digital from inside out: “Thinking digital as something that begins on the inside, not just a providence of the IT department. But really something that encapsulates everything you do.”