People in the Dallas–Fort Worth area are quick to note it takes less than five minutes for Texas’s biggest metropolis to add a new resident. But that’s not the scary part. What’s really troubling, at least for other U.S. cities competing for businesses and commerce against what locals here call “DFW,” is how area residents smile when they say it. That same frantic growth rate could be maintained for decades before the nation’s fourth most populous metropolitan area would begin to feel cramped.
“There’s more activity today than I’ve seen in 30 years in this business,” said a beaming Toby Grove, president of KDC, a local real-estate developer that is currently building several corporate offices in the region. Though the DFW metro area covers an area roughly the size of New Hampshire, there still are hundreds of pockets of empty space between Fort Worth on the west and Dallas on the east, offering plenty of room for growth. Once those are filled, the region could simply keep expanding outward, in all directions.
Drive the region’s elaborate web of new and relatively uncrowded highways — seemingly ready to accommodate an onslaught of humanity — and you’ll see the occasional 10- or 20-story office building or hotel dotting the landscape, quickly followed by acres and acres of vacant land. Locals are upbeat when they say the area’s 6.8 million residents could double over the next 20 years. “Growth seems to be more enhanced here,” Grove said. “I don’t see any slowdown.”
Indeed, the area has become a promised land of sorts to which businesses are flocking — and, once there, thriving. Think of just about any U.S. company, and there’s a good chance it’s got operations of some kind in the area. Some companies seek a geographic advantage by locating facilities in the middle of the country, whether a distribution hub or an entire headquarters. It may be that executives are hankering to save money on taxes or real estate or other business costs. Or perhaps they’re just weary of regulatory trappings elsewhere and long for a meaningful relationship with a business-friendly local government. It doesn’t matter. They’re getting all that and more. And it’s what led MarketWatch to declare that Dallas–Fort Worth is America’s most business-friendly metro area for 2014.