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Fort Worth: Better than ever and still growing

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 commentator

Dallas, TX – If you haven't been to Fort Worth lately, I highly suggest you mosey on over. It touts itself as the perfect mix of cowboys and culture. And if I may add, Texas-size. I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Middays.

Tourism ranks as the third-largest industry in Fort Worth. Over 7 million people visit that city every year, bringing in over $1 billion. And Gil Stotler, Director of Communications for the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, couldn't be more excited about its future.

Right now, Fort Worth has three totally different, but equally important, areas that typify, better than any other city, what Texas is about. First, there's the Stockyards. If you ever yearned to be a cowboy, it doesn't get more real than this, unless of course you live on a ranch in West Texas.

While Dallas sits pondering and arguing about what do with its downtown, Fort Worth's downtown development and Sundance Square are growing faster than the bluebonnets on I-35. It was four years ago this month when Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass opened their Performance Hall to worldwide accolades. Travel and Leisure Magazine rated it as one of the ten best opera houses in the world. It's the only one that has changeable sound panels, making it acoustically-perfect for all types of artistic performances.

Bass Hall is non-profit and privately funded by the Bass family. I asked Mike Cotham, Director of Finance for Bass Hall, how they were doing. He laughingly said, "Not losing any money, but not making any either." He went on to seriously say that making money is not their goal. Bringing all performing arts to the area, enhancing Fort Worth and Tarrant County is their only mission. That's success.

Speaking of non-profits did you know that all four, soon to be five, museums in the Cultural District are privately-funded non-profits? Fort Worth has a lot of old money and they like to keep it there. And one month from today, the only National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame will join this prestigious district. Can't wait. For KERA Marketplace Middays, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 P.M.