What sets Fort Worth apart and drove its huge population growth over the past decade – and likely will push it past Austin by 2030 – is its people, Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke told the Dallas Express.

“I think when you experience Fort Worth, you find that the people are extremely friendly and welcoming,” Cooke said during a telephone interview shortly after reports that Fort Worth is the second-fastest growing city in the nation were released. “For someone coming in from outside the state or outside the metroplex, I think they, for one, find Fort Worth to be – again – very friendly, very welcoming and there’s a lot of things to do in Fort Worth. It’s just a very vibrant city, we’ve got some cultural amenities like the various art museums, a fabulous downtown and Sundance Square. Then you’ve got some history in the Stockyards. I think there’s something for whatever type of amenity you want to look for – and we’ve got a brand-new Dickies Arena.”

Fort Worth isn’t alone in that growth. The greater metroplex shared with Dallas and North Texas in general is booming.

“I think Fort Worth, you could say, is grabbing our share of the growth that’s occurring in North Texas,” he said.

Fort Worth jumped from the nation’s 13th to the 12th largest city and experienced the highest percentage increase of any U.S. city except Seattle, 5 NBCDFW reported in Tuesday, June 1 news story that cited data released by the U.S. Census Bureau for last year.

Fort Worth’s population last year was 927,720, almost 180,000 more than the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2010.

NBCDFW cautioned that the Census data was the bureau’s “latest estimates” for last year and that a final count has yet to be released.

Fort Worth’s population still lags a hair behind Austin’s 978,763 and ahead of Jacksonville, Florida, where the Census Bureau’s preliminary data counted 823,146.

People are coming to Fort Worth because the city has a lot going for it, including a thriving housing market with plenty of availability and affordability, while “wide open spaces” still exist in the city’s west side, Cooke said.

There’s also plenty of good-paying jobs in the city and, despite the pandemic, most everyone who wants a job in Fort Worth can find one.

Fort Worth’s unemployment rate as of April 2021 is 6.3%, a far cry from the 10% mark the city hovered around during the height of the pandemic.

Fort Worth already boasts many employers in many industries, including IT, engineering and manufacturing, the travel industry, biotech, logistics and transportation. The city is also being “aggressive” about its recruitment of even more job-bearing companies to Fort Worth, Cooke said.

“Job growth is real strong and people are coming in from all parts of the state and all parts of the country,” he said.

COVID didn’t slow down construction in Fort Worth.

“During the pandemic, we did more building permits than the year before the pandemic,” Cooke said. “So, growth has been strong here, even during a very difficult year.”

All those “positives” naturally instills “confidence” in people thinking about moving to Fort Worth, Cooke said, who added that he has witnessed the present growth throughout his seven years as city manager – and that with growth comes responsibility.

“And I expect that [growth] to go on the next seven to 10 years,” he said. “Part of our responsibility is to make sure we’re investing in the infrastructure as we grow.”

Fort Worth city officials are already looking for ways to finance that infrastructure growth.

“We’re going to need to build new roads, new parks, new fire stations, new libraries,” Cooke said. “And, so, we’ll be going to the public about every four years asking for support for capital infrastructure as we continue to grow.”