Mike Rosa, Senior Vice President of Economic Development
DFW has returned to its normal, front-running position as the best performing major regional economy in the U.S. The latest economic indicators show a complete recovery of jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a return to pre-pandemic job creation rates.
Put on your economic hat and take a moment to appreciate that you are in DFW, and in Texas. 2021 has been a remarkable year, and we are accelerating across the bridge to 2022. The tailwind of our record-breaking economic year in 2019, along with the success, growth, and investments made in our region over the past decade – and movement here of companies and people – benefitted us greatly during the pandemic.
The most recent jobs data, through October 2021, reminds me of when our region lapped the field in 2019. Looking at the most recent three-year period, a bridge of time with the start of the pandemic at its center, DFW has added 143,400 jobs. Phoenix (112,800) and Atlanta (22,200) are the other metros among the nation’s top 12 to add jobs.
DFW is now at 101 percent of our pre-pandemic job level, though the mix of jobs is different. We lag, like other regions, in lost hospitality jobs, but we added 70,300 professional and business service jobs, 64,500 trade and transportation jobs, and 24,400 financial jobs in the past three years.
All the recent good news of company relocations and expansions feels normal, too. Two Fortune 500 companies made headquarters moves to DFW official this year: AECOM to Dallas and Charles Schwab to Westlake.
Furthermore, Texas Instruments has announced an expansion in Sherman that could result in 3,000 jobs and an investment of $30 billion. Caterpillar Electric Power is putting its headquarters in Irving. WileyX, makers of tactical gear, moved to Frisco. Ariat, makers of equestrian wear, landed in Fort Worth. Vanguard just announced its fifth major U.S hub will be in Plano. PepsiCo announced two large digital hubs, one here and one in Barcelona. And TripActions, a travel-based Palo Alto tech company that chose Dallas in late 2019 but was obviously impacted a couple months later, has returned to hiring mode.
Extending the bridge back to 2016, six Fortune 500 companies have relocated here. We’ve also added over 45,000 tech jobs, doubling Austin.
The DRC is currently tracking over 100 corporate location projects, a full pipeline that includes organizations starting with a data inquiry to others in the decision phase after making field visits. Some are very active, and some are paused waiting for COVID or other uncertainties to fade. The projects are across sectors, a testimony to our region’s appeal to companies and functions of all types.
Notably, most of our projects initiated during the pandemic. Electric vehicle companies, biotech companies, financial services companies, and food and beverage makers are represented. Headquarters, corporate offices, data or research centers, and manufacturing and logistics functions are being considered.
We learned recently that one project, a California company not quite ready to announce, will take a two-step approach to growing here. This tech company will first establish a significant presence, with an eye toward a bigger shift after that. Two-steps have been a theme lately – and an effective way for companies to land.
Additionally, the DRC’s domestic marketing efforts returned to normal over the last half of 2021. In late October, we took our first corporate contact mission to California in two years. In California, we also found something familiar.
We met a tech company president frustrated by how difficult and onerous the permitting process is at their California location, while needing to expand greatly with a hot new tech product. We met the C-suite employees of a company in the medical device sector that had to expand in California during the pandemic, but now seeks a more central U.S. location for its manufacturing and corporate office growth. Another company’s president is simply tired of “what’s happened here in California.” Our visit was timed perfectly with his intent to initiate a headquarters relocation search using a major national advisory firm. Every company on this trip is now an active case.
There are a lot of hats under which DFW and Texas are great places to be, and we’re looking forward to continuing that trend in 2022.