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04/24/2012

FW Chamber among top 20 economic development groups in 2011

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday it was named among the top 20 economic development groups by Site Selection magazine, a trade publication.

It is the fifth time in the last eight years the chamber has made the list, featured in the magazine’s upcoming May issue.

The magazine also named the deal to lure GE Transportation to Fort Worth as one of the top 10 deals in North America in 2011. GE Transportation is building a locomotive manufacturing plant and a plant to building mining equipment in far north Fort Worth.

The chamber made the top 20 list by securing 15 economic development projects that represent about 3.2 million square feet of real estate, $587 million in capital investments and nearly 3,500 jobs. The total economic impact of the deals secured in 2011 is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to the chamber.

"The Fort Worth Chamber has done an exceptional job to help us leverage our city’s attributes to attract new business opportunities that are strengthening our community by creating new jobs and new tax revenue," said Mayor Betsy Price.

David Berzina, executive vice president for economic development at the chamber, credited the chamber’s partnerships with the city and Tarrant County for a strong 2011.

"These partnerships are the reason we have been more successful than many other groups across the nation at securing new business opportunities for the Fort Worth community," he said.

The Dallas Regional Chamber was also included among the top 20 economic development groups.

Site Selection annually names the top-ranking organizations based on such things as capital investment, jobs created, the contributions of the local or regional economic development organizations and overall economic vitality.

In May 2011, GE Transportation said it selected Fort Worth for its new $96 million locomotive plant. The plant is scheduled to open by the end of the year, initially creating about 500 jobs, but possibly an additional 275 jobs by 2016. The company is expanding an existing building to 900,000 square feet near the Texas Motor Speedway.

The deal received $3.3 million in tax abatements from the city and $4.2 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. Tarrant and Denton counties also approved tax incentives for the project.

About five months later, GE Transportation said it would also build a mining equipment plant next to the locomotive plant. It is expected to employ 130 workers. The 236,000-square-foot, $95 million plant will build electric-drive wheel systems for huge off-road vehicles that perform heavy hauling work such as moving ore extracted from mines.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has 2,000 member businesses.

- Sandra Baker

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