Fort Worth

Economic development slowed in Fort Worth as result of election

Population growth will continue to spur economic development and above-average job growth in Fort Worth, a chamber official said Thursday.
Population growth will continue to spur economic development and above-average job growth in Fort Worth, a chamber official said Thursday. City of Fort Worth

Uncertainty leading up to the November presidential election played a role in a decline in the number of companies looking to move to Fort Worth in 2016, a chamber of commerce official said Thursday.

But the election of Donald Trump has caused even more uncertainty, Brandom Gengelbach, executive vice president of economic development at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, told a group of real estate professionals and local officials.

“Normally, we have about 100 leads per year and that has been down a little bit last year,” Gengelbach said. “Talking with folks, and with what I’ve seen, a little bit of the uncertainty of the election last year played a role.

“I anticipate a slower lead volume in 2017 as well,” he added. “We’re all looking and seeing who the advisers to the president are going to be and what those policies are going to look like. That’s affecting business.”

In 2016, the chamber fielded 67 potential projects and was a finalist in 19, Gengelbach said. The city won six projects, including four expansions of companies already here and the relocation of two California aerospace companies. A dozen leads were for new corporate headquarters, he said.

Gengelbach made his comments during the 2017 Tarrant County Commercial Real Estate Forecast, an annual event featuring experts in commercial, retail, multifamily and industrial markets.

Gengelbach said Fort Worth remains an attractive place to do business, but more will be needed to market the area in the coming years. Interest continues from California companies and globally, he said.

Population growth will continue to spur economic growth. In the next decade, about 134,000 jobs are expected to be created in Tarrant County, a 14 percent increase, he said. The estimated national average is 9 percent job growth, he said.

Fort Worth’s new medical school, a venture of TCU and the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, is scheduled to graduate its first class in 2019 and will be a big part of that growth, he said.

Fort Worth’s population is expected to pass the 1 million mark in five to six years.

In an unusual prediction, Drew Kile, a senior director with Institutional Property Advisors, the multifamily brokerage division of Marcus & Millichap, said new apartment developments in Fort Worth could soon be featuring drone landing pads among amenities.

Online retailing giant Amazon has filed for permission to test its drone-based delivery technology.

“People are really starting to believe that’s going to happen,” Kile said. “We actually have a client in Denver” that’s adding a drone landing pad at its apartment project.