Fort Worth chamber aims to attract young professionals

01/12/2014 12:00 AM

01/10/2014 5:32 PM

In an effort to brand Fort Worth as a city for young professionals, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce is launching a website, FWhat, to encourage the younger crowd to relocate.

“Nothing right now is really geared toward young professionals; that can really help be a target and a resource for them to go to,” said Brittany Bates, director of Vision Fort Worth, a membership group for young professionals in the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce.

The website is part of a strategy to rebrand Fort Worth and draw in more young professionals, ages 22-40, after a survey completed in 2011 by the TCU Neeley School of Business found that Fort Worth is not attracting as many young professionals to the city as hoped.

The survey, which was also sent to cities such as Austin and Portland, found that many people are unaware of all Fort Worth has to offer, said Marilyn Gilbert, executive vice president of the chamber.

“The good news is that they didn’t have a bad opinion of us. So it is incumbent on us to try and get more awareness,” Gilbert said. “That is certainly our challenge and what we are working on.”

The site is going to be part of the answer to that problem, Bates said.

The online survey also found that only 46 percent of the 870 respondents believed that Fort Worth is pedestrian-friendly, and only 38 percent think Fort Worth is good at providing support for business startups.

Only 48 percent of the young professionals already here would stay in Fort Worth if offered an opportunity in another city.

Negative responses to the city on the survey were based on transportation, conservative culture, education, lack of cultural diversity, air quality and the gas companies in the area.

The website is meant to educate those already living in the area about Fort Worth’s many opportunities, said Bates, and also persuading young professionals to relocate.

It will feature sections such as where to work, where to play, where to live, the arts, affordability, university and college programs, and local events, Bates said.

The website is also an effort to separate Fort Worth’s identity from Dallas’ in national advertising, Bates said.

With Fort Worth’s good job growth, attracting and retaining young professionals is important to the city, Gilbert said. Fort Worth was ranked the fourth-best large city for jobs in 2013 by Forbes.

A launch party for the website is planned from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Flying Saucer downtown.

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