Fort Worth, Texas: Becoming a Global City

April 9, 2017

By: Jon Roberts, principal, and John Karras, senior consultant, TIP Strategies

What does it mean to be a global city? TIP has been pondering this question since we were engaged to lead a team of consultants charged with preparing a new strategy for the City of Fort Worth.

The question elicits different ideas for different people. For some, a global city is defined by its cultural assets: world-renowned museums, a ballet, the opera. For others, it’s a label reserved for cities that embrace a range of cultures, evidenced by the number of languages overheard on the street and the variety of cuisines reflected in the city’s dining options.

Compelling architecture, recognizable landmarks, and a robust transportation system are often cited as necessary conditions by urbanists, while industry specialization and employment opportunities would be top of mind for economists.

The question of image is also relevant here. At some level, does the “global city” designation require that we have some shared notion of the place, derived from a mix of history, film, and word-of-mouth? Paris instantly conjures specific images: the Eiffel tower, fine dining, fashion. There are other cities that have an equally long history or are similar in size or economic importance but have failed to find a place in our collective imaginations.

While there are volumes of research around this question—and no lack of opinions—we place emphasis on three areas: trade, talent, and tradition. By looking at the strength of the traded sector (this includes export-oriented industries that trade in physical goods as well as ideas), the ability to attract and retain creative individuals, and what it means to leverage the heritage of a community, we see the building blocks of a dynamic strategy.

Over the next several months, our team will be engaging community leaders around a vision for Fort Worth that encompasses these elements. While the city’s “Cowboys and Culture” tagline broadens the traditional appeal, there is much more at play. With assets such as Alliance Airport, Sundance Square, and a growing medical sector, the question for the city’s immediate future seems to be less about whether the community will be successful and more about what form that success will take. The longer-term focus then must be more directly on how Fort Worth—separate from Dallas or the rest of the region—can become a global city. Stay tuned to learn more about our work in Fort Worth.

East Kern County, California: Economic Diversification Plan

April 7, 2017

By: John Karras, senior consultant, TIP Strategies

Spanning more than 8,000 square miles of mountains, valleys, and desert landscapes, Kern County, California, encompasses a diverse group of communities and assets. Comprising more than 3,000 square miles—roughly one-third of the total—the county’s eastern portion is larger than the combined land mass of Delaware and Rhode Island. The region contains three incorporated cities (California City, Ridgecrest, and Tehachapi) and three unincorporated communities (Boron, Mojave, and Rosamond.) East Kern’s economy is driven primarily by two military installations (Naval Air Weapons Station-China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base) and the Mojave Air & Space Port and Rio Tinto Minerals. East Kern is also closely linked to the greater Los Angeles economy, especially the communities of Lancaster and Palmdale.

To help capitalize on its unique advantages, Kern County engaged TIP to lead the preparation of an economic diversification plan for East Kern County. Over the course of a 12-month planning process, TIP worked with Kern County and key partner organizations including the Kern Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the East Kern Economic Alliance (EKEA) to create a bold and comprehensive set of strategies to accelerate economic development in East Kern. Chabin Concepts, a California-based economic development consulting firm, assisted TIP and Kern County throughout the project. The plan was recently featured at the 17th annual Kern County Economic Summit during a panel discussion with three of the region’s major employers: Naval Air Weapons Station-China Lake, Edwards Air Force Base, and Rio Tinto Minerals.

The plan calls for several new and aggressive initiatives to grow the regional economy. Some of the most promising strategies include:

  1. A targeted effort to work with the Mojave Air & Space Port to expand existing businesses and recruit new companies to the region, including aerospace product manufacturers, service providers, and research and testing firms.
  2. New partnerships with the region’s military installations, higher education institutions, and other stakeholders to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship activity.
  3. Packaging the region’s diverse menu of outdoor recreation and tourism assets to attract new visitors and talent into East Kern.

In addition to the regional diversification plan, TIP created strategic plans that respond to the unique opportunities and challenges facing each of the region’s six communities. The plan also formalizes the role of the East Kern Economic Alliance (a collaborative group of local economic development partners convened by the Kern EDC) and lays a foundation for additional resources for implementation. The Alliance is now working to pursue additional implementation funding from the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) to move these initiatives forward with dedicated staff. TIP is hopeful East Kern will follow a similar path of another client community that recently received OEA implementation funding: the Fort Campbell region of Tennessee and Kentucky.