California’s loss is Dallas-Fort Worth’s gain

🕐 5 min read

Recent North Texas deals

Farmer Bros. Co. – Northlake

Kubota Tractor Corp. – Grapevine

Data Center – Fort Worth

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Outlet center, office park – Fort Worth

Growth

The U.S. Census Bureau says five Texas cities are among the country’s top 10 in population gain, and San Marcos is the fastest-growing in the nation for the third consecutive year.

Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth each added 18,000 to 36,000 people between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014. San Marcos saw its population grow 7.9 percent between 2013 and 2014 to almost 59,000 people.

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The Census Bureau reports that until this year, Texas was the only state with three cities – Houston, San Antonio and Dallas – with 1 million or more people. California has now joined Texas with that distinction. – Associated Press

You might not want to wear your “Howdy, I’m from Texas,” T-shirt next time you visit Torrance, Calif.

North Texas has snagged three companies formerly headquartered in the city south of Los Angeles, including the crown jewel, Toyota Motor North America Inc., headed to Plano with plans for 5,000 jobs. Just north of Fort Worth, in Northlake, Farmer Bros. Co. plans a $40 million site with over 300 jobs. Meanwhile, Kubota Tractor Corp. will move its corporate headquarters from California to Grapevine. Some other jobs will relocate from a Fort Worth site.

“The Kubota project means an immediate boost of 340 high-paying corporate jobs and about $50 million of immediate new investment,” said Bob Farley, Grapevine’s newly appointed – and first – economic development director. “In addition, the 190,000-square-foot headquarters (about 25 acres) will house not only senior North American executives but be a center for additional R&D for the corporation.”

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Gov. Greg Abbott offered $3.8 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund as an incentive to Kubota.

Officials say construction on Kubota’s Grapevine facility will begin this year and should be completed by early 2017. The company currently has a Kubota Credit Corp. office in Fort Worth with about 100 workers.

Kubota Tractor Corp. is a subsidiary of Kubota Corp., based in Osaka, Japan.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president for economic development, David Berzina, said these moves are a good indication that Texas is doing things right. “Once again, Texas’ taxing environment and pro-business environment continue to pay dividends,” he said shortly after Farmer Bros. announced its move.

These large economic development deals are spurring other projects nearby. Farmer Bros. will be joined by an outlet mall, office park and the area’s first Buc-ee’s across Interstate 35 from the corporate headquarters. In Plano, Toyota Motor Co. more than doubled the size of the planned project to more than 2.1 million square feet, part of a 99.8-acre development at Legacy Drive, just south of State Highway 121. Granite Park, a large mixed-use development nearby, has announced plans for further expansion.

In Grapevine, the Kubota Tractor and Credit Corp. project signals the start of development of the site once owned by former Texas Ranger Rafael Palmeiro. The city of Grapevine acquired the land, about 185 acres, for about $30 million after Palmeiro’s group declared bankruptcy in the recession. Kubota is expected to purchase 20 to 25 acres of that land for the corporate headquarters.

Grapevine purchased 185 acres of land, which sits along State Highway 121, from Palmeiro at the end of 2013 for nearly $30 million for a master-planned development. Palmeiro initially purchased the acreage in 2007 and planned to develop a mixed-use project that never took shape.

After Kubota acquires the land, Farley said, there will be more than 100 acres of developable property on the southern parcel of land, which the city plans to use as a corporate magnet.

“The city is in the process of developing additional plans for that acreage of which some additional campus uses are certainly possible,” Farley said. “Kubota’s presence will certainly interest other corporate users. We also expect that land will present excellent options to continue Grapevine’s traditions in innovation for entertainment and hospitality.”

In the AllianceTexas area in north Fort Worth, more developments are expected to come on line soon. On May 19, the Fort Worth City Council approved incentives for a plan to build up to three 250,000-square-foot data centers at a 150-acre site at the northeast corner of Park Vista Boulevard and Texas 170.

The AllianceTexas area has come a long way, notes Bill Burton, senior vice president of Hillwood Properties.

“We started as an airport and we’ve evolved into a big logistics platform,” he said. With FedX having air and ground capabilities and UPB now having a ground hub, the area continues to grow as a transportation hub, he said.

At the same time, residential, retail and medical have continued to expand in the area. And, as businesses continue to come, the area is adding the type of amenities needed to provide workers for those businesses. “TCC just opened up their Center for Excellence in Aviation and Logistics at end of last year,” said Burton. “That the kind of really important amenities that will help this area continue to grow.”

The Alliance Opportunity Center serves as a satellite workforce center for companies located within the AllianceTexas development. It is moving to a more high profile location in the AllianceTown Center. “It’s just gotten more important to be able to provide the right workers for the companies located here,” he said.

While California would seem to be the big loser as several companies have relocated to Texas, the Golden State continued to post strong employment gains in the latest numbers, adding 39,800 to its nonfarm payrolls, though the state has seen a drop in manufacturing employment.

Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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