Mayor, Business Leaders Launch Nonprofit to Help Boost Fort Worth Economy

May 7,2020

See full Fort Worth Magazine article by Scott Nishimura here

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and business leaders John Goff and Elaine Agather are co-chairing up a new nonprofit called Fort Worth Now, to help the city’s businesses emerge from COVID-19 and identify opportunities for corporate relocation, moving business to the U.S. from countries such as China, and development of new technologies in the city in the virus’ wake.

Goff and his wife, Cami, announced they were pledging $100,000 to the nonprofit as a match for other gifts Fort Worth Now will solicit. The nonprofit, which aims to complete its business within a year, has the potential to augment the economic development plans the city and Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce implemented in recent years, Price and the business leaders said.

“I think it has the potential to be additive,” Price said, after a Thursday afternoon news conference with Goff and Agather at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center.

Goff is chairman and CEO of Crescent Real Estate Equities in Fort Worth and a longtime investor with his wife through their family office. Agather, a longtime Dallas-Fort Worth banker, is chairman of the Dallas region for JP Morgan Chase & Co., chairman of Fort Worth’s Bass Hall, and board member of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame and Fort Worth Stock Show. Her husband, Neils Agather, is executive director of the Burnett Foundation.

Agather acknowledged she has to say no to many requests to take the lead on community initiatives, but agreed to take this one at the mayor’s request. Goff said he agreed to be a co-chair when Price told him Agather was on board. “Now is the time to help,” Agather said. “We will come through this.”

The nonprofit will be funded entirely by private funds, Goff said. It’s searching for a staff member who will be paid by the nonprofit.

The organization will begin its business in June and add some number of advisory members from various business segments of Fort Worth, the co-chairs said during the news conference. The advisors will reflect diversity, they said.

“We have a working list,” Goff said. “It’s going to be very diverse. We need to make sure we encompass all parts of the business community.”

Near-term, the nonprofit will focus on “getting the city back in business,” Goff said. Longer-term, it will look at how the community can lever its assets to foster growth. “We need to grow the city back, probably in new dimensions,” he said.

Industries and segments such as medical and pharmaceutical, legal, education, real estate, banking, aviation, and small business are examples, Price said.

As far as businesses that could be targets for bringing to the U.S. from foreign countries, Goff used pharmaceutical manufacturing done in China as an example. “That’s really a national security question,” he said.