The city of Fort Worth has taken some heat lately for not attracting the kinds of big business that are often drawn to the eastern side of the Metroplex. But Thursday night, Fort Worth showed off its small business strength. NBC 5 went along for the ride on Cowtown’s first Startup Crawl.
The city is growing and changing, nowhere more clearly than in the busy West 7th Street area, and in the middle of all that business bustle, you'll now find places like Common Desk. It’s a shared office space for startups that's helping feed Fort Worth's economy of the future.
It starts with an idea, no matter how small.
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"I was dropping these samples on desks at my job and they were stealing it," said Ezette Pickens showing off her product Lusster’s Gourmet Brittle.
When Pickens realized her brittle candies could be more than a workplace treat, she came to the Business Assistance Center for a leg up.
"They provided an accountant, a free accountant, a free lawyer,” Pickens said. “They provided all those services for free."
Fort Worth has lost some of its big-name companies in recent years and in the city's work to rebuild, they've chosen to rebrand, networking at places like South by Southwest to attract fresh young small business talent.
"The backbone of your economy is always going to be small business and that's what grows and supports your large businesses," Mayor Price said.
Thursday night Mayor Price toured some of the hotspots on Fort Worth's first startup crawl, showing off diverse small businesses from collapsible baby changing stations, to electric car charging stations.
"We started at Tech Fort Worth as an incubator company," said Edward Morgan, Owner of Revitalize Charging Solutions. "In the city of Fort Worth, what people don't realize is there's a lot going on."
Shuttle buses took the tour past the Connex office park, an eco-friendly shared office space made from shipping containers, then down to West 7th's Common Desk.
"The Millennials, the Gen Z are all about quality of place and opportunities for them to grow their own businesses,” said Mayor Price. “We need to attract that as a region."
It's just a glimpse of the new landscape defining Fort Worth's future.
The Startup Crawl had seven stops in all, including another co-working space We Work Clear Fork and visits to TCU and the UNT Health Science Center. Buses even came over from Dallas to check out the scene in the city next door.
This isn't the first unusual step Fort Worth has taken to lure young talent. They set up a spot at South by Southwest in March, showcasing the city's music and business scene. Mayor Price says they've gotten interest from at least a couple new entrepreneurs through that effort.