The announcement of XTO Energy’s move to Houston felt like a gut punch to Fort Worth.
Few local businesses exemplify Fort Worth’s entrepreneurial spirit, growth and downtown renaissance the way XTO has for more than three decades, originally as Cross Timbers Oil.
At its inception, the oil and gas company employed only eight and occupied a small downtown office.
It now employs almost 5,000 people worldwide, and owns what seems like half of the Fort Worth skyline.
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Along with neighbor Sundance Square, the company has contributed mightily to Fort Worth’s downtown, bringing both street traffic and added security to mid-downtown blocks and supporting activities and events such as the annual Parade of Lights.
Close to 2,000 XTO employees work at its Fort Worth facilities.
The move will relocate 1,200 of them next year and another 400 in 2020.
It will also put four historic downtown buildings on the market — another building downtown and one in the Stockyards already have buyers — and leave a palpable void in our business community.
And, of course, it will mean saying farewell to friends and longtime Fort Worth citizens.
Fort Worth will feel XTO’s loss deeply, but in the wake of its announcement, we should consider a few important things.
First, XTO is not making a complete exodus from Cowtown. Some 350 employees are expected to remain at a downtown location.
While its footprint will be smaller and its corporate presence diminished, the company isn’t cutting ties.
Second, XTO’s move is largely the price of its own success.
In a matter of decades XTO went from a small energy company to the nation’s largest natural gas producer.
It merged with ExxonMobil in 2010. The move to Houston is an effort to consolidate operations.
Lastly, XTO’s success is a shining example of Fort Worth’s friendly and thriving business atmosphere.
Fort Worth truly is a great place to do business and we expect to produce many more successful and innovative companies in the years to come.
All that said, we sure will miss them downtown.