By: Nancy Farrar
The explosion of population taking place on this side of the Metroplex is stunning. People keep coming, and there are no signs that they are going to stop. The reasons are simple but multiple: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the Alliance Corridor, open land, affordable housing, the Barnett Shale and quality of life. North Texas is considered to be business friendly, and local governments work hard to bring new companies to town. We look at 12 cities in the Fort Worth-Arlington MSA that are doing very well indeed in attracting new residents. A rising tide does float all boats, but not necessarily evenly. This isn’t rocket science. We just picked 12 places based on personal knowledge, projected growth rates and housing prices that we found interesting. And we talked to people who live in these cities, asking what they find attractive about where they live.
For much of its history, Fort Worth lived — sometimes sullenly — in the shadow of Dallas. But among the things that Fort Worth had and Dallas didn’t was plenty of territory for expansion.
Folks around here like to brag that Fort Worth is the Texas-most city in the state. That’s part nature and a lot nurture, with generous residents providing the means to mix cowboys and culture into a single package.
Jeff Whitfield was born in Abilene but moved to the area in 1979 when his father took a job with Ben Hogan. He left for the Air Force Academy in 1992.
“The prodigal son, as my parents remind me, finally made his way home in 2011 when I moved back to Fort Worth to practice law at Kelly Hart,” Whitfield says. “Almost 20 years to the day after I left Fort Worth for the Air Force, my wife and I bought our first home in this community.”
He’s active in Steer Fort Worth, Mayor Betsy Price’s program to involve younger residents in the life of the city, and is a member of the current class of Leadership Fort Worth.
The personalities of Dallas and Fort Worth are different, and Whitfield likes what he sees in Fort Worth.
“We’ve spent lots of time in many different cities in Texas, across the country and in Europe,” he says. “People in Fort Worth, and the surrounding communities, are some of the friendliest and most welcoming folks we’ve met. We’ve heard this same opinion from many visitors, from all parts, who’ve traveled here to visit us, our family and our community.
The reasons for growth are simple.
“We have a climate of opportunity for business, education, creativity, and families,” Whitfield says. “We’re also a welcoming community. As we grow, we must balance the need to protect those qualities that make us an attractive community with the need to transform and continue creating opportunities for our residents.”
He says the river and the city’s parks are great treasures; the transformed central business district and Fort Worth’s arts and cultural communities are among his favorite attractions.
Fort Worth developed around the site of a frontier outpost built in 1849 and named for Maj. Gen. Williams Jenkins Worth. Over the years, the city grew because of its rail connections, its stockyards and meatpacking plants, oil and gas interests and an aviation business built around Carswell Air Force base and the World War II bomber plant that is now Lockheed Martin.
The opening of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport also fed Fort Worth’s development, as did Alliance Airport in North Fort Worth that led to the establishment of AllianceTexas.
It is a city that values its sometime wild and wooly Western heritage, but that has married that to a rich cultural heritage that revolves around world-class museums and art venues.
By: Nancy Farrar