National Air Station in Fort Worth, TX

By Joe Morris on December 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm EST
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Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, the nation’s first joint defense facility, creates a huge economic impact while luring new residents from all over the United States.

The NAS Fort Worth JRB comprises 40 separate commands and has a $1.3 billion annual economic impact to the Fort Worth and North Central Texas region. Its workforce includes more than 11,000 active-duty military, as well as National Guard and reserve soldiers and civilian employees.

Many of those military personnel redeploy elsewhere when their time at Fort Worth is up, but almost 200,000 of them have opted to stay permanently.

Retirement in Fort Worth

One well-known local who’s done exactly that is Paul Paine, the base’s former commander who retired from the Navy in 2005 and subsequently became president of Fort Worth South, a nonprofit organization leading the revitalization of the Near Southside Medical District.

For Paine, the area’s many pluses, besides the chance to tackle a new opportunity, made it a natural for him and his family, and they all wanted to put down some roots after more than dozen moves during his military career.

“I did not see the job I have now in my future, but it’s been great,” Paine says. “As a base commander, I worked a lot with getting messages out to people, and I do that in my current position.”

At the time, Paine's daughter had begun college at the University of North Texas in Denton, and his son was in the 11th grade. Neither of them was keen to move; in fact, his son, who had been fine with 11 previous moves, was firm about staying put.

“We’ve never regretted it,” Paine says, looking back. “I certainly could have continued on in the military, but that track meant I was constantly on the go. If I tried to make admiral, that would have been at least three years away from my family. I also could have been posted somewhere they couldn’t accompany me, which was another factor in our decision.”

All good reasons, but in the end, Fort Worth sold itself to the Paines.

“We liked the inclusiveness of Fort Worth, how welcoming the town was. I met a lot of community leaders during my time as base commander, so we had made some good connections, and we just felt like it was the right place to be for us. It’s a very friendly community and not so big that you can’t get to know people.”

Commander Turned CEO

Another transplant who decided to remain is T.D. Smyers, CEO of the American Red Cross, North Texas Region. Like Paine, Smyers also was a base commander – in fact, four so far have chosen to remain in Fort Worth.

For Smyers, who grew up in nearby Boyd, Fort Worth had always been the “big city,” and after his military service ended in July 2011 it provided the opportunity to build a consulting business based on his experience and strengths. When the perfect job came along it made staying here even more practical.

“I expected to stay here, but wasn’t sure what I would do,” he recalls. “I had success building a consulting firm, and then was contacted by the Red Cross during their restructuring. I had a good rapport with them, and my wife had been on a chapter’s board. I am in a service position where I can both lead and give back, which is ideal for me.”

Fort Worth provides that kind of opportunity not just for military personnel, but also for anyone seeking a community where their talents can be put to good use, Smyers says.

Find more great reasons to live in Fort Worth, TX.

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We want the young professionals to be involved in Fort Worth as early as possible, and hopefully for a lifetime. They are the future, and we want their input now.

Brianna Broussard, program manager, Vision Fort Worth