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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Top 100: 30th Anniversary Award: Hillwood Development

The Fort Worth Business Press is 30 years old this year and wanted to give special recognition to a now-legendary company that started that same year – Hillwood Development.

We believe that both companies have had a significant impact on Fort Worth and North Texas, although is vastly different ways.

Hillwood Development was established in 1988 by Ross Perot Jr. and is one of the largest private real estate developers and investors in the United States.

When the need for a reliever airport for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport became a priority, Hillwood donated 350 acres to the City of Fort Worth as a partner in the public-private effort to design, fund and develop the world’s first industrial airport.

Fort Worth Alliance Airport was the result and is now the centerpiece of the AllianceTexas development.

Since its founding, this project has attracted more than $8 billion in private investment, generated about $64 billion in economic impact, created nearly 47,500 jobs and has more than 4.3 million square feet of space developed.

The company also created Hillwood Communities, and its first master-planned community, Park Glen, was developed in Fort Worth’s first Public Improvement District 10 miles south of Alliance Airport. Hillwood Communities has since grown to include 35 active communities in 28 cities, seven states and two countries.

Hillwood President Mike Berry responded to a questionnaire from the Fort Worth Business Press:

What differentiates your company from others in a similar business?

Over the years, Hillwood has become known for product quality and for our commitment to the highest level of customer service. Every project Hillwood develops in North Texas demonstrates that we stand by this hard-earned reputation. Another defining feature is the unparalleled caliber of Hillwood’s highly skilled team. We have recruited and cultivated some of the top commercial real estate talent in the nation.

Our commitment to sustainability also differentiates Hillwood from other developers. Building and landscaping projects at AllianceTexas, our headquarters at Turtle Creek and our buildings at Frisco Station are all designed to reduce our environmental impact.

For instance, corporate campuses at Circle T Ranch are designed to blend in seamlessly with some of the most scenic landscapes in North Texas. Another instance, and possibly one of the best examples of Hillwood’s commitment to the environment and the community, is Bluestem Park at Alliance Town Center. The 14-acre park is one of the largest original native prairie and stream restoration projects in Texas and serves as an experiential classroom for local students and outdoor enthusiasts. It also serves as a place for community engagement throughout the year with family-friendly programming and recreational opportunities.

Innovation is another feature that sets Hillwood apart. From creating the world’s first industrial airport to offering the region’s first smoke-free multifamily residences to implementing creative solutions to our region’s greatest infrastructure challenges, Hillwood fosters innovation.

We were an early supporter of Booster Fuels, which is a gas-on-delivery service. In addition to investing in the technology, we’ve engaged Booster to serve customers at all of our Hillwood developments. The ability to have your car filled with gas while you work is a huge benefit for employees.

Hillwood has also invested in Shiftsmart, which is a technology that helps companies connect with a large pool of qualified workers. Job seekers can use the app to find jobs with salaries and schedules that meet their specific needs.

All businesses go through some tough times. What was your greatest challenge and how did you respond

to it?

AllianceTexas is widely diversified, which is one of the reasons we’ve had such a significant impact on the North Texas economy year after year, regardless of the economic climate. In fact, since inception, AllianceTexas’s economic impact on the region is $69 billion and we are currently home to over 488 companies.

As you can imagine, developing the infrastructure necessary to support a population of more than 48,000 workers and 250,000 area residents requires long-term planning, careful coordination and strong relationships. From our earliest days, we realized the importance of partnerships and remain committed to strengthening our ties with local communities, as well as with infrastructure, education, transportation and workforce development partners.

Because of these partnerships, we are seeing the benefits of major infrastructure projects that have been underway for some time, such as the runway extension at Fort Worth Alliance Airport and the expansion of Interstate 35W. With large portions of I-35W completed, and only a final segment left to complete, mobility is greatly improving throughout the AllianceTexas corridor. Commute times have become shorter, creating a better quality of life for our residents and greater efficiencies for our regional companies.

The business climate is changing rapidly. What do you foresee as challenges?

Our primary project in Tarrant/Denton counties is a public-private partnership, so we work in tandem with federal, state and local governments to advance issues at AllianceTexas.

We know that one of the biggest considerations in corporate relocation and expansion is access to a highly skilled workforce, which is why Hillwood is committed to helping connect AllianceTexas companies with qualified workers.

One way we accomplish this is through the Alliance Opportunity Center (AOC). Launched in 1998, the AOC is a partnership with Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas, Texas Workforce Commission, Tarrant County College and Hillwood to provide specialized, onsite company-specific recruitment assistance for area companies.

The AOC offers job seekers full access to all Texas Workforce Commission resources and offers monthly hiring events for companies. Companies such as DynCorp have benefitted from this valuable resource, and Charles Schwab is tapping into the AOC to access the tremendous financial services talent in Westlake and the surrounding area.

Matching qualified veterans with jobs is among the AOC’s highest priorities. In fact, last year our ongoing efforts to help transition retired military was recognized by the Texas Veterans Commission.

Our workforce development partnerships are supplemented by relationships with higher education institutions such as Tarrant County College, the University of North Texas, Texas Christian University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Texas at Arlington. Working with these schools creates a direct pipeline for AllianceTexas companies to the future workforce, while also helping today’s workforce pursue the certifications and degree programs that are in greatest demand.

In light of Fort Worth’s position as the second-largest aviation cluster in the nation, we’re especially pleased to be working with TCC on the Erma C. Johnson Hadley Northwest Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation and Logistics, which is located right next to Fort Worth Alliance Airport.

In general, do you see the present business climate as challenging, uncertain or optimistic and why?

Hillwood has every reason to be optimistic about the present business climate as we’ve celebrated the completion of some major infrastructure projects and made great progress on our highest-priority development initiatives.

Earlier this year, we completed the runway extension project at Fort Worth Alliance Airport. This will have a major impact on the North Texas economy as the airport has increased air cargo capacity by providing greater flight capabilities.

The expansion of Facebook is another reason for us to be optimistic. Not only is Facebook expanding its operations at AllianceTexas, but other data centers are following suit. Just last year, T5 Data Centers announced plans to partner with Hillwood to develop a massive, hyperscale data center campus.

We still have lots of room for growth, with more than 350-400 acres master-planned specifically for data center development. At full build-out, we’ll be capable of delivering more than 400 megawatts of new supply, basically replicating the entire Dallas-Fort Worth marketplace.

The rise of e-commerce has also benefitted AllianceTexas as FedEx and UPS increase their presence and their operations at the Alliance Global Logistics Hub to serve nearby fulfillment centers for Amazon.com, Walmart.com and others.

Of course, one of the projects that creates the greatest amount of optimism is Charles Schwab & Co.’s 70-acre regional corporate campus. The project started with plans to house 2,600 employees and expanded to housing about 5,000 workers. The campus will anchor a dynamic 130-acre, master-planned, mixed-use development that will further support the surrounding companies and residents.

The mixed-use project, which is being developed in partnership with The Howard Hughes Corp., brings Hillwood one step closer to realizing its vision of creating a productive environment in which companies and highly skilled employees can thrive.

If you could make one and only one change in the present business climate, what would it be and why?

The United States is an economic pacesetter for the rest of the world, and North Texas has certainly benefitted from robust economic opportunities and expansion. As with most businesses, long-term clarity is important, and we want to see a smooth resolution to our nation’s trade issues.

This article includes material from the Hillwood website.

Hillwood Development

9800 Hillwood Parkway, No. 300, Fort Worth

Number of people employed: 500


– Paul K. Harral

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Paul Harral
Paul is a lifelong journalist with experience in wire service, newspaper, magazine, local and network television and digital media. He was vice president and editor of the editorial page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and editor of Fort Worth, Texas magazine before joining the Business Press. What he likes best is writing about people in detail and introducing them to others in the community. Specific areas of passion are homelessness, human trafficking, health care and aerospace.

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