Texas may only be the second best state to do business in this year according to a new survey, but don't tell that to the City of Fort Worth.
Businesses flocked to or expanded in the city by the dozens in the last 18 months, including Allens Inc., a vegetable processor near The T Headquarters off East Lancaster Avenue.
The factory is a former Ranch Style Beans facility that closed in late 2009. About a year ago, Allens reopened the plant, producing a wide variety of beans.
"Getting closer to your customers, being near the distribution points -- that was very important in the decision," plant manager Mark Fields said.
Allens received some city incentives to bring part of its operations here, but the family-owned company also put in $25 million to modernize the facility and ended up hiring back some employees who were laid off just months earlier.
"It was a good mesh between Allens and the hiring process here, and we got just outstanding quality of workers," Fields said.
The Allens Inc. project was one of 109 the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has been involved in since the start of 2010. Just 13 of the most prominent projects yielded $280 million in capital improvements, 3,300 local jobs and $180 million in annual salaries.
"Last year was a fantastic year in a very down economy for us here in Fort Worth and the entire Metroplex," said David Berzina, the chamber's executive vice president. "And when we look forward about five or six months, we see a level of activity that is as high or higher than it was in the last year."
Berzina said there are many reasons why Fort Worth is such a big draw these days, including the cost of living, right-to-work issues, good logistics with roads, rail and air travel, available industrial space and a good work force.
"It's a great place to be right now," he said. "I mean, if you're a human being looking to work, there's all sorts of opportunities here."
Existing businesses are also expanding. The Dannon Co. located at 1300 W. Peter Smith St. on the Near Southside is adding 13,000 square feet of space at a cost of $40 million. The project will add 20 jobs and keep the Dannon factory here for some time.
The chamber said RadioShack's decision to keep its corporate headquarters in Fort Worth is also helping bring companies to the area. Losing a Fortune 500 company could have had a negative impact on business growth.