Our city is not off course. But we’re in the rough, and not only when it comes to pro golf.
We are not as powerful a city as we used to be, and the proof is as close as Colonial Country Club.
Once, about six phone calls would have rounded up sponsors for a pro golf charity benefit to raise $13 million and put Fort Worth on network TV all weekend.
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The electronics, retail and energy giants that used to support Fort Worth arts, charities and causes are no longer around. Or they aren’t in any shape to help.
Radio Shack is gone. Energy companies left. Other local companies shrank, and mergers or buyouts took major banks out of town.
Yes, Fort Worth is still growing. We’ll soon be a top-15 U.S. city in population, county seat of the third largest county in Texas behind only Harris (Houston) and Dallas.
But we’re growing with data-center jobs, technical jobs and warehouse jobs.
We’re not growing executives. We’re not growing headquarters, or leaders, or decision-makers.
That’s putting more at risk than a network TV pro golf tournament.
We already heard about Fort Worth’s symphony and arts groups. They’ve lost sponsors and donor support, and cut budgets.
Besides the Colonial golf tournament, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is Fort Worth’s other showcase to the world.
Twenty years ago, the Cliburn’s lead sponsors were Mobil Oil and Radio Shack.
We know what Fort Worth needs to draw business: more education, more colleges and college graduates, more transit options and more appeal to smart young professionals and diverse cultures.
(Within days, the Cliburn board will decide whether its next spinoff contest for teenagers, the Junior Cliburn, will be in Fort Worth or Dallas.)
When the local United Way charity campaign fell $2 million short, the chairman wrote in these pages about the pinch on local charity.
(Even his bank’s parent is based in Tulsa, Okla.)
Thankfully, American Airlines’ base remains here, although its executives came from US Airways and many moved to Dallas or Highland Park.
BNSF Railway’s leaders and workers remain very generous. Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and Rhode Island-based Textron (Bell Helicopter) are great friends for Fort Worth.
33charities received money this year from the Dean & DeLuca Invitational golf tournament.
But Fort Worth folks don’t call the shots anymore. We don’t draw company headquarters or top executives anymore.
We know in general what Fort Worth needs to draw new businesses: more education, more colleges and college graduates, more transit options and more appeal to smart young professionals and diverse cultures.
If we draw new companies, we draw leaders.
If you wonder why all this is important, watch the video of the Colonial luncheon Thursday where checks were delivered to 33 grateful local charities. It’s at facebook.com/Colonial.
If Colonial and pro golf can’t line up a new title sponsor by 2019, maybe the tournament gets pushed to fall on a cable or satellite TV channel.
Maybe it raises $3 million instead of $13 million. Maybe a charity close to your heart can’t serve as many kids.
Maybe that charity has to close down.
Maybe it’s time we worry not only about Colonial but about what’s next for Fort Worth.