Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership

Why Fort Worth, Texas, is an emerging frontier for aerospace and energy

By City of Fort Worth Economic Development

With costs rising and economic challenges mounting, mid-tier cities across the United States are seeing a massive influx of migrating people and companies, all in pursuit of a more economical place to live and conduct business.

Fort Worth, Texas – the 13th largest city in the U.S., according to the 2020 Census – is no exception. Its population has grown 4.6% since 2020 and is on track to reach 1 million residents by 2025 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

And with this growth, business is booming – data from the city of Fort Worth shows that business attraction and expansion projects in 2023 alone created more than 4,000 new jobs and generated $2 billion in new private investment for the city.

These companies and their employees were able to benefit from Fort Worth’s business-friendly environment – with no corporate, state, or local income tax – and a cost of doing business that Moody’s Analytics reports is 2.8% below the national average. That’s more than 20 points below the cost of doing business in Los Angeles, and 100 points lower than San Francisco, according to data from the Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership.

Fort Worth is home to the corporate headquarters of BNSF Railway, GM Financial, and American Airlines – whose largest hub at DFW International Airport can connect people to either coast in about four hours. And while it continues to celebrate its distinctive Western roots, the city also has its sights set squarely on the future as its growing population and thriving business environment redefine Fort Worth’s frontiers for future generations.

A legacy of innovation in aerospace and defense

Fort Worth companies have been building some of the world’s most advanced aircraft since World War II, and the city has been establishing a strong foundation in the aerospace industry ever since. Lockheed Martin has had a significant presence in Fort Worth for more than 75 years and is currently manufacturing the F-35 Lightning II – one of the most advanced multi-role fighter jets in the world – from Air Force Plant 4.

Bell – a subsidiary of Textron – is another major aerospace company headquartered in the city. Bell’s current project is the tilt-rotator V-280 Valor helicopter, which was recently selected as the U.S. Army’s new Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, and the company’s 140,000-square-foot Manufacturing Technology Center in Fort Worth further solidifies their presence in North Texas.

Bell’s 140,000-square-foot Manufacturing Technology Center in Fort Worth further solidifies their presence in North Texas.

These industry heavyweights are further bolstered by an interconnected ecosystem of mid-sized organizations – including GKN Aerospace, a key supplier of both Lockheed Martin and Bell, and Elbit Systems of America, whose corporate headquarters in Fort Worth supports a robust portfolio of defense systems.

An important tool at Fort Worth’s disposal for aerospace companies is a research and development tax credit program, in which eligible companies can receive grants that are equal to a percentage of their Fort Worth-based research and development costs. While these performance-based grants are limited to the value of new property taxes created by the project, they can also be sold or assigned to other commercial projects.

But this R&D incentive can support more than just aerospace companies – it’s also allowed Fort Worth to attract significant projects in the energy and mobility sectors.

Powered by new forms of energy

Traditionally considered an oil and gas town, several companies are currently expanding their presence in Fort Worth as the city takes bold steps to build an ecosystem that spans the full energy spectrum – from generation and production, to distribution, storage and other downstream applications.

For example, Siemens announced a new manufacturing facility in Fort Worth late last year that will focus on the production of state-of-the-art electrical equipment and low-voltage switchgear, which will power data centers and bolster the adoption of generative AI.

Additionally, MP Materials’ new fully-integrated rare earth manufacturing factory in north Fort Worth is quickly approaching completion. A first-of-its kind U.S. facility with an ambitious goal of restoring the domestic rare earth magnetics supply chain, MP Materials has partnered with General Motors to produce the vital NdFeB magnets that serve as critical components for GM’s electric vehicle line.

With a growing population, a business-friendly environment, and deep strengths in the aerospace and energy industries, Fort Worth is a city that’s proven itself as a destination for forward-thinking companies – firmly staking its claim as the center of the modern West.

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