The Fort Worth area added more than 15,000 jobs through the city’s economic development incentives last year with private investment totaling $4.6 billion.
While Fort Worth businesses received more than $191.6 million in construction and services spending, far above what was required, incentive agreements missed the mark on spending with minority or women-owned companies, according to a city report released this week. The report from the city’s economic development office looked at projects that received tax abatement or other incentives in fiscal year 2019. The city provided a little more than $30 million in abatement or other incentives and netted about $16.4 million in new taxes.
Robert Sturns, the city’s economic development director, said the report was a testament to Fort Worth’s robust economy over the past few years.
“I think this speaks to companies seeing Fort Worth as a good opportunity for investment,” he said.
Of the 15,357 new jobs created in 2019 through incentive packages, more than 6,700 stayed within Fort Worth and 1,468 were within Loop 820 in the city limits.
Companies seeking incentives had committed to spending a little under $9.5 million on construction costs with Fort Worth businesses, but spent more than $31.3 million. Fort Worth businesses earned about $160.3 million from supply and services related to incentives, far above the roughly $22.7 million goal.
But Fort Worth’s women or minority-owned businesses did not fare as well. The city wanted companies to spend nearly $9 million on construction and more than $17.2 million on supplies and services with local women or minority-run firms. In both cases, the actual spending was off by a few million dollars. Minority and women-owned construction firms earned less than $6 million while companies providing supplies or services earned a little more than $12 million.
When Fort Worth revised its incentive program two years ago, a renewed emphasis was placed on requiring companies to work with minority and women-owned firms.
“I think it will take a few years to get to where we want to be with that, but I think we’re encouraged,” Sturns said.
Sturns said he expects to see positive growth in job creation and spending related to the city’s economic development programs through next year. It’s possible the coronavirus-related recession may affect future growth, but he said it was too early to tell.
This month the City Council approved two deals that would bring hundreds of jobs, including white-collar corporate employees, to Fort Worth.
On Tuesday the council approved a $1 million incentive package with Wesco Aircraft, which will be doing business as Incora. The supply chain manager will move its California-based headquarters to the former FAA building in Mercantile Center with 500 high-paying jobs. The deal uses proceeds from the city’s sale of the Pinnacle Bank property downtown rather than tax abatements.
Last week, the council approved a tax incentive deal worth just north of $2 million with Ariat International. The boot company will add 75 corporate jobs to a distribution center north of the BNSF Intermodal Facility and ramp up to about 450 total jobs by 2024.