The economy in North Texas is growing twice as fast as the national average. A recent report by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows employment in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington region is growing by nearly four percent annually.
At the Fort Worth Chamber’s State of the Union luncheon, Thursday, officials spotlighted Tarrant County’s boom in transportation projects, the medical industry and all things energy. County Judge Glen Whitley, the key-note speaker, told a packed audience of business leaders and community partners that things are going very well in Tarrant.
“They’re going well because we’ve got public, private partners who are willing to sit at a table and discuss issues,” he said. “We work together and we collaborate, trying to make sure that when we have a tax dollar that we spend it as efficiently and as effectively as possible.”
He cites the example of Alliance, the industrial airport complex that opened 25 years ago.
“The Alliance development, which was again, Fort Worth stepping out there, Bob Bolen,” Whitley said. “Those entities out there have contributed more than 1.3 billion dollars of tax revenue. So I’m one of these that looks at the fact that you make a little bit of an investment in the long run, and it’s going to be a big return.”
There was talk, also, about how to get people to and from work faster. A new commuter rail line’s being built by TexRail, but won’t be ready for another four years. There’s also talk of an eventual high-speed rail link between Houston and Dallas, and maybe Fort Worth?
But this doesn’t really help lower-income families, says TCU urban policy specialist Sean Crotty.
“Wealthy people like the idea of rail, as opposed to buses, but buses can be very effective means of transport, but you have the ability to use buses efficiently.”
The idea of better public transportation to help families is often talked about in Tarrant, but he says there hasn’t been any real will to do anything about it.
Sue Matkin, with United Way of Tarrant County agrees that transportation can be a barrier to getting jobs. About 300 thousand Tarrant families have incomes between 15 to 50 thousand annually, she says.
“We’ve been doing skills-based training for families, but we’re making sure, working with the Workforce board, that they are demand occupations. Things like welding, commercial truck-driving. We have growth in areas that many of our families, we can easily train and get them in there.”