July 16, 2012

Neeley Marketing Professors Investigate What Young Professionals Think about Fort Worth

Vision FWTwo years ago, as part of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s Vision Fort Worth program to groom new leaders, the Chamber turned to Neeley marketing professors Stacy Landreth Grau and Susan Kleiser to help them understand the image of Fort Worth. The goal? To attract and retain professional young people.

Grau and Kleiser surveyed approximately 2,500 young professionals in Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, Denver, Portland, Charlotte, Cincinnati and Kansas City about their image of Fort Worth. They presented their findings at a luncheon for Vision Fort Worth and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price’s Steer Fort Worth group.

“Our purpose was to gather information on perceptions of Fort Worth as well as aspirational and comparable cities on key city attributes that young professionals look for in a city,” Grau said.

From their survey, the key attributes that young professionals want in a city are leisure amenities, social good and stability.

Grau and Kleiser received an overwhelmingly positive response from the nearly 900 young professionals surveyed in Fort Worth. For example, 89 percent said that they are very satisfied with the city, and that if they had to leave, they would likely come back. Also, 92 percent said they are happy living and working in Fort Worth.

Positive comments included: “large city with small-town feel,” “laid-back culture,” “fantastic restaurants, museum and entertainment,” and “works like a city but acts like a town.” Negative responses centered around transportation and infrastructure, conservative culture, education/ISD, lack of cultural diversity, air quality, and gas companies.

Overall, their survey found that the young professionals who live in Fort Worth are satisfied, loyal, and confident that the city provides stability and leisure opportunities.

Outside of Fort Worth, however, the city’s image is not as clear to young professionals.

“Young professionals in the other eight cities really don’t know anything about Fort Worth,” Kleiser said.  “It’s not necessarily a negative perception, just a neutral one. Dallas does know who Fort Worth is, but the other cities do not. On the other hand, the young professionals in Fort Worth don’t really know about the other cities, either.”

Grau and Kleiser recommend that the Fort Worth Chamber reach out to local human resources departments to help promote the city to job applicants. They also suggest monitoring social media to see who is talking about Fort Worth and what they are saying, and developing a social media strategy to promote Fort Worth.

Vision Fort Worth Program Director Brianna Broussard believes the research is critical in understanding what attracts young people to a particular community.

“With a growing number of baby boomers set to leave the workforce over the next several years, the Gen X and Gen Y demographic is becoming an increasingly sought-after group with many choices in where to live and work,” Broussard said. “Engaging them now gives Fort Worth the competitive advantage it will need later when cities across the county will be competing for young talent.”


Elaine Cole
PR Manager
Neeley School of Business at TCU