Fort Worth, one of the five fastest-growing cities in the United States, continues to attract new business, even as 2020 takes its toll on cities across the country.
Brandom Gengelbach, the new CEO at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, aims to shine a bright light on the future ahead for the city.
“Business leaders from all around the country continue to tell me how they feel hamstrung in high-tax states,” Gengelbach said. “While having a tax-friendly business environment certainly helps, we are seeing an unprecedented amount of growth in Fort Worth for a variety of reasons, including a cohesive, supportive government infrastructure, as well as an overwhelmingly affable environment, a career-ready talent pool, ample transportation opportunities and a favorable cost of living.”
Fort Worth added more than 50,000 jobs in the past year. These new jobs were a welcome career opportunity for both locals and to those new to the city. The new jobs included highly-skilled positions in biotechnology, aviation and transportation automation and health care. Businesses like Linear Labs, M2G Ventures and Bell Helicopter chose to grow in Fort Worth, and their leaders are enthusiastic about the upshot of that decision.
“Fort Worth embraces innovation in all forms,” said Linear Labs co-founder and CEO Brad Hunstable. “In doing business in this city, new ideas are welcomed, and informed key collaborations allow businesses from here – and those planting a flag here – to flourish. Fort Worth has embraced our big dreams and plans, and we’re excited about being a part of the next tech innovation hub right here.”
Gengelbach took the reins as the leader of the Fort Worth Chamber this summer and said he’s proud of Fort Worth’s “Where the West Begins” roots and charm. He also said it’s important for people to know of the aggressive and business-friendly environment of the city.
Fort Worth has lot to offer
“Those living outside of Texas might imagine Fort Worth (if they imagine it at all) as a sleepy town filled with citizens in cowboy boots, riding their horses alongside cows and tumbleweeds on the way to the oil derrick,” Gengelbach said. “And while this North Texas city embraces its heritage, business leaders around the country and the world may be astonished to learn what Fort Worth has to offer.”
Mayor Besty Price, a longtime advocate for the Chamber, said the facts speak for themselves when it comes to the quality of life.
“Fort Worth ranks among the top 15 cities for young professionals, is considered among the best places to raise a family and is among the very best places for first-time home buyers,” Price said. “Culture lovers delight in our local attractions – like the Kimbell Art Museum and Modern Art Museum. Nature lovers enjoy days out at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden or exploring the striking Trinity Trails, all complemented by top restaurants and dynamic entertainment.”
Put simply, Fort Worth boasts that yearned-for small-town feel with big-city perks, with a surprisingly low cost of living that further underlines its desirability.
Chamber’s annual meeting goes online
Now, Gengelbach said he hopes to bring further energy, vision and a collaborative approach to the ongoing development, enhancement and growth of the area’s economy.
“We know what it’s like for a business owner to feel unappreciated, and we believe that ambitious leaders deserve a city that has vision and resources to pour into the company”s future,” Gengelbach said. “Our mission is to ensure Fort Worth delivers.”
To hear more about the Chamber’s vision, join the Fort Worth Chamber’s 138th annual meeting online at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 29 online. Guest registration is free online or by calling 817-336-2491.
The theme of this year’s event is Fortitude, signifying the city’s strength, resilience and commitment to moving forward. Jonathan Morris will serve as keynote speaker. Morris embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of Fort Worth and will share his message of shifting gears, taking on new challenges and pressing forward. Morris will also talk about his breakout role as the star of Self-Employed, set to launch on the Magnolia Network, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ newest venture, in 2021.
The City Council approved a $782 million fiscal 2021 general fund budget Tuesday and voted to keep the property tax rate at 74.75 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
The general fund budget is only a portion of the city’s Capital and Operating Budgets that total just under $2 billion for fiscal 2021. The general fund pays to operate city services and facilities. Fort Worth’s budget includes several other funds, including debt service and those that operate the water and wastewater utility, airports and special projects, among them.
The fiscal 2021 budget will continue to fund new facilities, improve equity of city services and enhance community policing.
The city’s fiscal year runs Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
The Council also approved an $86.5 million Crime Control and Prevention District (CCPD) budget that calls for increased spending with community partners and nonprofits, and the expansion of the Fort Worth Police Department’s crisis intervention team, among other things.
The operating budget also includes a $394.3 million Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal 2021. The plan calls for evaluating infrastructure maintenance and investment based on equity and continuing neighborhood and transportation-related improvements.
Numerous residents attended and spoke at several recent budget meetings and hearings.
The University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC) at Fort Worth will administer the Texas portion of a $12 million National Institutes of Health award for outreach and engagement efforts in ethnic and racial minority communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Several Texas counties, including Tarrant, are among high-priority regions that will receive special focus. The project connects communities with accurate public health information and informs communities about clinical research and vaccine trials.
The Texas Community Engagement Alliance Consortium will be administered through HSC and led by Dr. Jamboor K. Vishwanatha.
“HSC is committed to leading the way in creating solutions to address health disparities that affect members of underrepresented and diverse communities,” HSC President Dr. Michael Williams said. “COVID-19’s disproportionate impact has shined a bright light on the need for more partnerships and resources to solve these disparities.”
Other high-priority areas in Texas include Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Hidalgo counties.
“The Texas Community Engagement Alliance Team has brought together academic partners and multiple community partners with whom trusted relations have been built over many years,” Vishwanatha said. “With this statewide effort, we hope to provide science-based information to overcome the misinformation and mistrust in our communities regarding the clinical and vaccine trials, and to increase participation of ethnic and racial minority communities in Texas in these trials.”
The Community Engagement Alliance research teams will focus on COVID-19 awareness and education research, especially among African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos and American Indians — populations that account for over half of all reported cases in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“With strong interest and commitment from academic and community partners, the Texas CEAL team came together rather quickly to address the urgent national need to diversify the clinical trial participation in development of COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines,” Vishwanatha said.
Two new restaurants offering international cuisine, as well as two new health, beauty and wellness service offerings, have opened or are opening soon at Crockett Row at West 7th. Among the openings are Taco Paseo, a Tex-Mex restaurant, in Crockett Hall and Japanese cuisine-focused The Blue Fish at 2932 Crockett St.
As the state moves toward allowing restaurants to open to 75% capacity, several Crockett Row flagship restaurants and entertainment venues have reopened after the initial lockdown and have announced their social distancing protocols.
Here’s some more information about the new openings:
Taco Paseo (opened September 2020 at 3000 Crockett Street) – An expansion of the newly reimagined Crockett Hall serving Tex-Mex specialties and authentic Mexican tacos, including beef, pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, veggie and breakfast options, as well as Mexican beers and fresh margaritas – www.TacoPaseo.com
The Blue Fish (opening fall 2020 at 2932 Crockett Street) – Award-winning Japanese cuisine serving premium selections of sushi and sashimi, as well as Asian-inspired hot dishes – www.thebluefishsushi.com
The Pretty Kitty (opening fall 2020 at 2831 West 7th Street) – Known for its signature Brazilian Bikini Wax, The Pretty Kitty will offer full-service waxing and cater to Fort Worth’s active, stylish, woman on-the-go – www.prettykittywax.com
Formula Wellness (opening fall 2020 at 2937 West 7th Street) – Health spa offering energizing and youth-restoring services such as hormone replacement, nutrition and supplement therapy, IV therapy, and medical weight loss – www.formulawellnesscenter.com
In addition, here are some changes taking place in the development, along with some new social distancing protocols.
Crockett Hall – The former Food Hall at Crockett Row – now named “Crockett Hall” – has reopened with 11 new eateries, new operators and management, lower price points, and a fresh new look, with fluid indoor-outdoor spaces that allow for social distancing and a contactless experience. The new Crockett Hall has a total of 15 food and beverage options – offering everything from poke, burgers, barbeque, pizza, pasta, pot pies, tacos, salads, sandwiches, craft coffee, cocktails, and even a neighborhood mini-market.
West 7th Movie Tavern – Fort Worth’s favorite movie tavern has reopened after being temporarily closed for more than six months. Movie buffs are welcome to return to enjoy the big screens, dynamic sound, and gourmet eats and cocktails in a safe, comfortable setting. Updated health and safety measures include limited occupancy and what the theatre bills as its “S-T-A-R” treatment for guests: Social Distancing, Thorough Cleaning and Sanitizing, App/Website Ordering Available for Low Contact, and Respect for All Guests and Associates.
Social House – Casual restaurant-bar with an award-winning scratch kitchen and 100 beers on tap, brunch on weekends, and 28 televisions
MASH’D – World-class food and neighborhood comfort, with an array of craft cocktails, many made from the Moonshine that inspired its name
Concrete Cowboy – 8,000-square-foot nightspot that’s part honky-tonk, part sports bar, offering drinks, dinner, lunch and brunch
Fireside Pies – “Crockett Row original” featuring wood-fired pizza, hand-made pasta, fresh salads, craft cocktails, and a commitment to well-sourced ingredients and exceptional service
Toasted – Eatery and bar featuring fresh, all-natural ingredients to create a variety of gourmet toasts, specialty sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts, as well as locally roasted coffees, teas, beer, wine and cocktails
Cinnaholic — Locally owned and operated bakery specializing in custom gourmet cinnamon rolls and homemade cookie dough, brownies, and cookies, all of which 100% vegan, dairy & lactose-free, egg-free, and cholesterol-free
Voicebox Karaoke – Private party suites with karaoke, food, drinks, and personal service
“As the economy finds its way back from the lockdowns, this momentum couldn’t come at a more welcome time,” said Monica Bermea, marketing director for Vestar. “Crockett Row at West 7th has always been a development with so much energy, appeal and fun, so the lockdowns and capacity restrictions definitely took a toll on us. Needless to say, this late summer wave of openings, reopenings and new leases is giving us a much-needed adrenaline boost, and we are THRILLED to welcome Taco Paseo, The Blue Fish, The Pretty Kitty, and Formula Wellness to our vibrant Crockett Row community.”
Parking at Crockett Row is free, with both street parking (free for two hours) and covered garage parking (free with validation) available.
Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference to provide an update on the state’s ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19. During the press conference, the Governor issued Executive Orders expanding occupancy levelsPDF File for restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums and libraries, and re-authorizing elective surgeriesPDF File for a majority of the state of Texas. The Governor also announced new guidance related to visitations at nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state.
In addition, the Governor implemented the use of reliable, data driven hospitalization metrics used by doctors and medical experts to help guide the state’s ongoing efforts to contain COVID-19 and expand occupancy for businesses and services. This metric focuses on areas with high hospitalizations — referring to any Trauma Service Area (TSA) that has had seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of all hospitalized patients exceeds 15%, until such time as the TSA has seven consecutive days in which the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of all hospitalized patients is 15% or less. A current list of areas with high hospitalizations will be maintained on the dshs.texas.gov/ga3031.
Using this metric,PDF File 19 of the 22 TSAs in Texas qualify to increase occupancy levels to 75% for restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms, exercise facilities and classes, museums and libraries beginning Sept. 21. In addition, these 19 TSAs can also resume elective surgeries.PDF File Three of the 22 TSAs (S-Victoria, T-Laredo and V-Lower Rio Grande Valley) must remain at 50% occupancy and continue postponing elective surgeries until the hospitalization metric requirements are met. These three TSAs contain the following counties: Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson, Lavaca, Victoria, Jim Hogg, Webb, Zapata, Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy.
“With the medical advancements we have made and the personal hygiene practices we have adopted, Texans have shown that we can address both the health and safety concerns of COVID-19 while also taking careful, measured steps to restore the livelihoods that Texans depend on,” said Governor Abbott. “Achieving both goals requires safe standards that contain COVID-19, emphasize protecting the most vulnerable, and establish clear metrics that the public can depend on. That is why today we have announced expanded occupancy standards for a variety of services. But, Texans should remember that a steady and significant decline in COVID-19 cases is not a sign to let up in our vigilance against the virus. Instead, Texans must continue to heed the guidance of medical experts by wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing proper sanitation strategies. By maintaining health and safety standards that are proven to mitigate COVID-19, we can continue to slow the spread while opening up the Texas economy.”
The Governor announced new visitation guidance for eligible nursing homes, assisted living facilities, intermediate care facilities, home and community-based service providers, and inpatient hospice effective Thursday, Sept. 24. Under the new rules, residents will be allowed to designate up to two essential family caregivers who will be provided necessary training to allow them to safely go inside a facility for a scheduled visit, including in the resident’s room, to help ensure their loved one’s physical, social and emotional needs are being met. Designated caregivers will not be required to maintain physical distancing, but only one caregiver can visit a resident at a time.
A long-term care facility resident (or legal representative) can designate the essential caregiver, who can be a family member, friend or other individual. Facilities are required to train essential caregivers on the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other infection control measures. Proper PPE must be used at all times during these scheduled visits, and the caregiver must test negative for COVID-19 within the previous 14 days before the initial visit.
For general visitors who are not a designated essential caregiver, these updated emergency rules will allow approved facilities to schedule outdoor no contact visits, open window visits or indoor visitation with the use of plexiglass safety barriers to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Physical contact between residents and general visitors is not permitted. Facilities also must continue to meet all additional visitation requirements outlined in the emergency rules.
View the Governor’s Executive Order related to expanded capacity of certain services.
View the Governor’s Executive Order related to hospital capacity.
We are thrilled to announce the Little Scholars Program!
This is an innovative, pilot program designed to support first through fifth-grade students in the Fort Worth Independent School District with their virtual learning needs.
The goal of the Little Scholars Program is to give much-needed daily support for students who are not able to complete their virtual class assignments from home. Students who have not received a computer from their home campus will be provided one so that they can fully function in their school's virtual program.
Students will be organized into "pods" of ten and meet Monday through Friday, October 5 - December 18. Each pod will have a teacher and an assistant to facilitate their course work.
As an added layer of security and safety, Trinity Metro is rolling out a new mobile app that gives customers the opportunity to report security concerns and safety hazards. The “See Say Now” mobile app encourages riders to report any potential issues, such as an unattended bag or suspicious activity.
See something? Say something! The app allows customers to submit a photo and a description of the issue when they see it. They select from a list of report options and locations, and customers may choose to submit a report anonymously.
“The ‘See Say Now’ app is a timely and efficient option for alleviating concerns by giving customers a chance to share what they see,” said Jon-Erik “AJ” Arjanen, vice president and COO of rail, who also oversees safety and security. “This safety enhancement gives riders an easy way to share any potential issues with us, and the comments go directly to dispatch.”
Download the “See Say Now” app from the Apple store or Google Play store.
Looking for a texting option? The Text-a-Tip number, 817-409-8686, is a quick and easy way to submit concerns. Riders may also fill out an online form.
It’s September, and that means that soon the temperature will start to fall and the blistering heat of summer will be gone. Suddenly, you’ll want to spend more time outside. Suddenly, sitting on the patio or the porch will be delightful. Suddenly, you’ll want to work in your garden.
Make sure you stock up on plants at the Botanic Garden Virtual Plant Sale, Sept. 26-29, with order pickup Oct. 2-4. GROW members will have access to a one-day preview sale Sept. 25 as well as 10% off their order.
“The plant sale is an opportunity for area residents to shop for plants specifically selected to thrive in North Central Texas gardens,” said botanic garden senior horticulturist Steve Huddleston.
The sale allows gardeners to get plants in the ground after the summer heat has ended but before winter chills the ground.
“Fall is the best time to plant in North Central Texas,” Huddleston said. “Plants have a chance to establish their root systems before the onslaught of next summer’s heat.”
The exact plant selection will not be known until shortly before the sale. Botanic Garden staff will visit growers the week prior and pick the best-looking and best-performing plants available.
The agenda and content of the Fort Worth Chamber’s annual meeting has shifted to reflect what the community has endured this year.
The theme, Fortitude, highlights the resiliency of the Fort Worth community as residents and businesses have overcome numerous challenges this year. The virtual meeting will be 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 29.
The keynote speaker, Jonathan Morris, embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of Fort Worth and will share his message of shifting gears, taking on new challenges and pressing forward. Morris will also talk about his breakout role as the star of Self-Employed, set to launch on the Magnolia Network, Chip and Joanna Gaines’ newest venture, in 2021.
Molson Coors beverage company is the recipient of the Spirit of Enterprise award, sponsored by BNSF Railway. This award is given annually to honor a local organization that has demonstrated a true commitment to business growth and community development.
The Susan Halsey Executive Leadership Award recipient will be announced at the event. This award honors leadership excellence in business in the Fort Worth metropolitan area. It recognizes presidents, principals or chief executive officers for devoting time and energy to strengthen and transform the organization they lead. The award was created to honor Susan Halsey, a formidable Fort Worth attorney and businesswoman, who died in December 2014. She was the managing partner of JacksonWalker LLC.
The annual meeting will take place virtually on Hopin. Attendees will receive short video training clips to help familiarize themselves with the platform before the event, as well as access to the event. The networking portion of this event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Each attendee with access to networking will be randomly paired up with other attendees in their same ticket level for one-on-one networking sessions. In 30 minutes, attendees will have the opportunity to spend three minutes with each connection for a total of 10 connections made within this time.
A statewide survey, conducted by United Ways of Texas in cooperation with United Way of Tarrant County, found that Texans are facing many challenges due to the pandemic, including meeting basic needs. The survey also found some Texas communities and populations are being hit disproportionately hard, and a majority of Texans are very worried about the health and economic well-being of their communities.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, key findings include:
The top concern among individuals is contracting COVID-19 (67%), followed by the economic health of the community (59%), mental health issues (40%), remote learning during the upcoming school year (38%) and attending church or other social gatherings (37%).
When asked about resources needed for their households, the most common answer was “help with bills” (22%) followed by new job opportunities (20%), assistance with paying rent/mortgage (18%), technology to assist with remote working and learning (15%), and health insurance coverage (13%).
To make ends meet during the pandemic, 22% said they increased the balance on credit cards, 21% said they applied for unemployment, 17% used a food pantry or food bank, 15% borrowed from family or friends and 12% applied for food stamps or the SNAP program.
Seventy-five percent of Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex households received a stimulus check. Among those, 34% said the check would cover family/household expenses for two weeks or less and the majority used the checks for rent or mortgage (37%), utilities (35%) and food (32%).
Among seniors, the top concern was contracting COVID-19 (74%), the economic health of the community (71%), attending church or other social gatherings (44%), mental health issues (34%) and medical issues other than COVID-19 (26%).
“The survey reinforces what we have seen first-hand in Tarrant County,” said Leah King, president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County. “COVID-19 has greatly affected our community with many families struggling to make ends meet. And it has been even harder for vulnerable populations, including low-income families, senior citizens and children. Basic needs such as food, mortgage and rent, utilities, and medications continue to be the most needed.”
Since mid-March, the United Way of Tarrant County has invested $1.4 million from the Emergency Relief Fund, assisting more than 550,000 people impacted by COVID-19. In addition, through federal and state grants administered by the Area Agency on Aging of Tarrant County, more than 203,268 meals have been delivered to 2,480 senior citizens. Total for this effort is $1,113,636.
United Way also established the Rebuild Tarrant County Fund to provide long-term assistance to the community as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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