VIDEO: Central TX Economy on Track to Pass DFW?

Austin, Texas, skyline
Austin, Texas, skyline | Image by Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

A new documentary asserts that the Central Texas region is on pace to exceed the economic growth of Dallas-Fort Worth.

Dallas-Fort Worth is considered a major market for business and development, but the investigative report points to the San Antonio-Austin region as the preeminent economic powerhouse in Texas and beyond in the coming decades.

The documentary, titled San Antonio-Austin: The Emerging Mega-Metro, explores the explosive growth of the two cities and details some of the logistical and environmental challenges involved with supporting the region’s rapid expansion, such as ensuring the two cities are developed using sustainable, affordable, and environmentally-sound practices.

There are a number of challenges involved with overseeing the region’s growth, but typical problems impacting the 75-mile stretch between Austin and San Antonio include water scarcity, environmental setbacks, transportation bottlenecks, and traffic woes, according to the hour-long documentary, which was produced by San Antonio-based PBS news station KLRN.

“We know the area between San Antonio and Austin is growing at a tremendously rapid pace, but what is really happening is the development of a mega-metro that will be one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world,” said Shari St. Clair, the documentary’s executive producer and KLRN’s director of news and production, in a news release, reported by CultureMap Fort Worth.

“We delve into the questions that need to be asked right now — how do we retain quality of life as we grow? How do we build a sustainable workforce? And, can San Antonio and Austin truly join forces and work together to make the most of this incredible opportunity?”

While the documentary outlines a number of tools officials can use to stimulate long-term growth, the key metric driving the area’s rapid expansion boils down to demand.

For example, The Dallas Express previously reported how local homebuilder Landsea Homes had chosen to direct its development efforts toward Central Texas over North Texas due to strong demand for the region as well as its current and future growth potential.

According to Vince Ruffino, Texas division president at Landsea Homes, the company is committed to the Central Texas region and bullish about the residential development opportunities in these markets.

“Our strategic focus continues to be about bringing our best-in-class homes to the state’s most desirable cities,” Ruffino said in a news release.

According to 2022 Census data, most of the top 15 largest U.S. cities based on population were located in the southern region of the United States. When analyzing the most populous cities in the nation, data show that San Antonio came in at No.5, while Austin ranked No.8.

However, when measuring the region’s annual population increase, San Antonio comes in at No.3, with Austin failing to make the top 15 rankings.

Meanwhile, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area, which ranked No.7, recorded the highest numeric increase in population between 2021 and 2022 of any U.S. metro area, with an annual population increase of 170,396 people.

Despite many favorable trends, the metroplex — and Dallas in particular — is dragged down by rising rates of crime and homelessness, flagging city cleanliness, and failing public schools. All of these are consistently identified as major problems by citizens in polling conducted by The Dallas Express.

DFW’s population change was followed by the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area, which saw an increase of 124,281 residents over the same time period.

Although Central Texas and North Texas are both poised for explosive growth in the future, the documentary suggests that the Austin-San Antonio mega-metro will be the most in-demand market for growth in the country.

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