FORT WORTH GOES NATIONWIDE

Fort Worth is tired of being on the wrong side of that slash mark in D/FW, and the city’s making its move. With the help of a high-powered public relations firm, the city’s leaders are attempting to sculpt a new image for Fort Worth by launching a $3 million ad campaign designed to lure national businesses into the city. The Chicago office of the public relations firm of Burson-Marsteller will be doing the sculpting.

Claiming Cowtown is not being “seriously considered for corporate relocation,” the Fort Worth Corporation-backed by the Fort Worth Chamber and its public relations offspring-is aiming the aggressive campaign at big businesses looking for new corporate homes in the sun belt. The campaign depicts Fort Worth as the “ideal place to grow a business or to grow a family.” Ads that read “Fort Worth, Welcome Home” are slated to appear in several national publications this fall.

As early as last year Burson-Marsteller began planting seeds for the economical growth of Fort Worth in The New York Times and Chicago Tribune– written seeds boasting the advantages of Fort Worth’s economical and cultural climate. The public relations firm says it is now distributing the actual campaign product-ads.

Although specific plans are still in the negotiating stages, advertising vehicles for the public-awareness blitz include The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Business Week, publications with heavy readership in targeted corporate communities of the Northeast and Midwest.

What makes Fort Worth a better choice for relocation than Dallas or other Southern cities? Fort Worth City Manager Doug Harman says his city has a number of “important attributes”-some admittedly shared with Dallas. But he claims Fort Worth is in some ways more attractive than its sister city: It offers cheaper land development and, because expansion is “unencumbered by surrounding jurisdiction,” developers don’t have to worry about spilling over into outlying suburbs. Another plus, says Harman: “Fort Worth has an ease of transportation that you don’t find in other major areas of the metroplex.”

Even so, Cowtown has been having its share of big-city problems. But Fort Worth Corporation Chairman Joseph M. Grant says murders of young women, gang-related shootings and the violence of the Legion of Doom are not obstacles to economic expansion.

“We feel they are very unfortunate incidents that have caused some bad publicity,” he says. “But it could happen anywhere.”

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