Fort Worth’s New Cash Cow

In early 1989, Fort Worth will begin making $66,000,000 a day. Through horse racing? A lottery? No. That’s when the nation’s second currency plant starts printing paper money for the U. S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving- Since 1914, the only other plant in the United States has been in Washington, D. C.

Fort Worth’s license to print money didn’t come easy. According to Art Siddon, the spokesman for the Treasury Department, “no one can imagine what went into getting the plant.” Well, we can try. To begin, Fort Worth had to compete with eighty-two other western cities, including Dallas and Houston, for the contract. Those cities were then considered for what the Treasury Department calls “their merits.” They had to have nonstop flights to cities with Federal Reserve banks (Dallas, San ! Francisco, and Kansas City); overnight vault storage; and “the kinds of things that would be a nice work environment for the bureau.” Using those criteria, the Treasury narrowed its list down to eleven cities.

But nothing in this world is ; based solely on merit. Bipartisan lobbying efforts by House Speaker Jim Wright and Senator Phil Gramm gave Fort Worth the inside track in Washington. (Money has always had an unusual bonding quality.) Back home, the people of Fort Worth embarked on a campaign to promote their city’s worth, wearing buttons such as “The Buck Stops Here.”

After intense competition, the pack was narrowed to three cities-Fort Worth, Las Vegas, and Aurora, Colorado, a Denver suburb. In the end, Fort Worth proved the old adage that money breeds money; the city offered a $15.7 million package that included the use of 100 acres of land, $7.5 million in private donations, and a million dollars in road improvements.

So the deal was done. Some 200 highly skilled jobs will be created immediately for Fort Worth, and 1,000 more will be generated in related businesses, such as construction. In addition, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving will spend about $100 million per year locally for goods and services, according to Senator Gramm.

All this could mean good fortune for Dallas, too. Tours will be offered in what promises to be the most advanced printing facility in the world. Those tours, and a museum that the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce is hoping to build, should draw more tourists to this part of the country. In addition, industries related to the plant-paper and ink suppliers, for example-could locate in Dallas. “There are some spinoff industries that might be associated with Dallas,” says Wayne Boling. the director of economic development for the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, “and we’re certainly pressing for them to locate here.”

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