While the country as a whole has been paralyzed from years of slow economic growth, Fort Worth and Dallas havenít let that blur their visions for their own futures.
As the former mayor of Fort Worth, I understand the growing pains of a community on the rise. I have a unique appreciation for the dedication of local business leaders and elected officials who give their all to see their cities reach full potential. After years of strategic planning and smart infrastructure and economic development, our long-term planning is paying off and in big ways.
For example, Fort Worth has made critical investments to increase the usage of the convention center with the addition of first-class hotels and the evolution of a pedestrian friendly downtown, and they have widened roads including Interstate 35 to accommodate increased traffic, especially on NASCAR weekends. Dallas has made similar investments with the American Airlines Center and the North Dallas Tollway to alleviate traffic going in and out of the Dallas area as well as serve as a hub for hotel accommodations for major sporting events like the Super Bowl. All of these investments have been coupled with a welcoming business climate to encourage companies to base their operations in the region.
The Dallas area is now home to 18 Fortune 500 companies, and Fort Worth was just named the best mid-sized downtown in the nation. Our local economics are growing, unemployment levels are dropping, and people are moving to North Texas in droves because of good paying jobs and affordable housing. The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area added 108,000 people in the past year, the third-largest population increase in the nation behind Houston and New York, according to new estimates from the Census Bureau for the 12 months that ended in July.
In turn, Fort Worth now ranks No. 1 as the best place in the country to find a job. Dallas is on the short list for the 2016 GOP National Convention, and ESPN retuned to the new Sundance Square Plaza in downtown Fort Worth to broadcast their Final Four coverage as they did when the Metroplex hosted the Super Bowl in 2011. Fort Worth is also home to the Texas Motor Speedway, which brings in over 100,000 fans from across the country to the North Texas area on race weekends.
In terms of local development, all the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to make both communities the most highly prized locations to live and work in the nation. As a representative and resident of Fort Worth, I am most proud to see the vision that so many have planned for now coming into full sight.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.