Fortune: Fort Worth launching pad for businesses

Students interested in starting a business will not have to go far to find a start.

Fortune Small Business recently ranked Fort Worth the ninth-best place in the nation to “live and launch” a business. David Minor, director of the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center, said this designation will attract students to Neeley’s entrepreneurship program.

Minor said the ranking shows Fort Worth has a vibrant entrepreneurial environment and will boost the reputation of the entrepreneurship program.

“It’s now a destination school for entrepreneurs,” Minor said.

Brad Hancock, assistant director of the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center, said Fort Worth has always been a maverick, and this designation shows that its pioneering, spirited atmosphere is now being recognized.

“It’s almost as if a spirit of entrepreneurship permeates the county,” Hancock said.

David Berzina, executive vice president of economic development at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, attributed Fort Worth’s ranking to its affordable cost of living, central location and status as the fourth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 company headquarters in the nation.

“When you start a business, you usually want to move to a place where there is an inexpensive cost of living since you usually don’t have much excess cash,” Berzina said.

Berzina said the Dallas-Fort Worth area has excellent access to markets through DFW International Airport and the various interstate highways.

Hancock said Fort Worth’s population growth, economic boom and job growth also helped its ranking.

“A lot is happening here that makes it a great place to start a small business,” Hancock said.

The Barnett Shale boosted Fort Worth’s ranking because of the wealth it generated for both the gas industry and the businesses in the service sector that supported the corporations’ activities, Minor said.

“Growth in a big company means a population growth, which means small business growth,” Minor said.

Other areas that flourish in Fort Worth include medical, aviation supply and support and automobile industries, Berzina said.

Fortune Small Business considered business environment and opportunities for leisurely activities when ranking the best places to live and launch a business.

The article listed Fort Worth’s rapidly growing population, ties to large companies, such as Radio Shack and Pier One, business-friendly government and laid-back tax structure as the advantages to starting a business in the city.

Berzina said Fort Worth’s ranking would show the world that its business climate is “sunny as opposed to cloudy.”

“Anytime a community receives an unsolicited and unbiased designation, it affirms to the outside world that we’re a good place to do business,” Berzina said.