Dallas-Fort Worth is perceived as a very competitive location for attracting new and expanding corporate facilities, particularly with headquarters. If asked, I believe a vast majority of CEOs for major national or global corporations would include our region among top-of-mind best places to base their businesses. The opinions of major real estate firms and site selection consultants who advise corporate moves would be similar.
The Dallas Regional Chamber team and our partners have worked hard and logged a lot of miles over the past several years to shape that perception, and with excellent results. There are polls and surveys each year that prove this, and there is nothing an economic developer like me loves more than an independent audit that has Dallas-Fort Worth at or near the top as a corporate location—whether for headquarters or other types of projects. Those reports have a reserved space in the suitcase for our next marketing trip to California.
Recently, I received a great one in the mail. It’s a report from Conway, which publishes Site Selection magazine, a leading and widely distributed economic development and corporate location trade publication. The 161-page report is called “The World’s Most Competitive Cities.” In it, Conway breaks the world into six regions: North America; Western Europe; Eastern Europe and Central Asia; Asia Pacific; Africa and the Middle East; and Latin America and Caribbean. For each world region, Conway researched all cities with a population at or above 500,000 to choose the five most competitive cities in the 12 major economic sectors.
The 12 economic sectors are: aerospace; automotive; business and financial services; chemicals and plastics; electronics; energy; food and beverages; information technology and communications; life sciences; machinery and equipment; metals; and transportation and logistics.
To determine the five best locations in each world region for all sectors (72 rankings in all), Conway used a combination of executive perceptions (surveying corporate executives and location consultants), actual corporate location history (documenting where corporate facilities in those sectors decided to move or expand), and “apples-to-apples” econometrics, such as industry cluster data from Oxford Economics, Moody’s, and others.
Cracking open the report, I knew that DFW competes well against other North American cities across all 12 sectors. I thought our region might be ranked top five for several sectors, but I figured we would be a lock in only four: aerospace, business and financial services, information technology and communications, and transportation and logistics. Shame on me.
I was right about the four locks, but DFW actually ranked as a top five North American region in six additional sectors for a total of 10—ranking more often than any other U.S. metro. Only for life sciences and metals was Dallas-Fort Worth not a top five location, though we do have significant strengths in those sectors, too. Our area ranked first in North America for financial and business services and food and beverages; and ranked second in energy, information technology and communications, machinery and equipment, and transportation and logistics. We ranked third in both aerospace and automotive, and ranked fifth in chemicals and plastics, and electronics.
After DFW’s 10, the most-ranked U.S. metros were Houston in eight of 12 sectors (ranking first in energy, chemicals and plastics, metals, transportation and logistics, and machinery and equipment), Atlanta in seven, and Chicago in six. Texas was also represented by Austin, which ranked in two of the sectors (fourth for electronics, fifth for energy). Twenty different North American cities ranked at least once.
Globally, 80 cities ranked at least once. Only Dubai and Shanghai were as frequently ranked as Dallas-Fort Worth. Dubai dominated the Middle East and Africa region, and Shanghai the Asia Pacific region.
It’s great to see our region included and so prominently acclaimed in a global study like this, which to my knowledge, is the first of its kind by Conway. We’ll make great use of it.
A generation ago, Dallas-Fort Worth was the ninth-largest U.S. metropolitan area. Today, we are fourth. And considering the business climate and cost issues in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, it’s fair to say that ours is now the largest U.S. metropolitan area with a prosperous climate for business and for people. So, not to brag, but DFW is the biggest and best location in the best state and greatest nation on earth. That’s a powerful, distinctive platform from which to market this region internationally—and stake our claim as a rising and major global city.