Business icons forecast future needs to meet explosive North Texas growth – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Three North Texas business icons made a rare joint public appearance Thursday to talk about transportation, technology and the future.

At the annual meeting of the Dallas Citizens Council, they promoted technology advances that may also boost safety and better education to prepare the workforce that will be needed as North Texas population surges.

Ross Perot Junior, Chairman of the Perot Companies and Hillwood Development, moderated the discussion with the chief executive officers of Southwest Airlines and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.

Perot had an explosive population estimate.

“100 years we’ll have 33 million people. By 2130, we’ll have 33 million people here,” Perot said.

His Hillwood built the Victory project around American Airlines Center in Dallas and many other really large North Texas developments.

Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said his carrier is limited in preparing for such growth at Dallas Love Field where it operates now.

“We love Love Field and we love Dallas but we are constrained there, one. And we are committed to serving the metroplex as the metroplex continues to grow,” Jordan said.

So Jordan said Southwest has requested space in a new DFW Airport Terminal F that is due to be completed in about four years.

The leaders said the region soars because it is a transportation hub.

“We have an excellent interstate system. We have two of the largest airlines headquartered here. We have the largest railroads in the country that are headquartered here,” BNSF CEO Katie Farmer said.

BNSF greatly expanded intermodal capacity to transfer rail cargo to trucks at Hillwood’s Alliance development in far North Fort Worth.

Farmer said even more expansion is planned to remove more highway traffic.

“There’s 7 million trucks on the highway in lanes that make sense to be moving intermodally,” she said.

The BNSF CEO said new technology could help boost safety with better inspection of defects in rail tracks.

All three business leaders told the Citizens Council that they focus on technology, on the needs of customers and employees for future success.

The Citizens Council Chairwoman Arcilia Acosta is the CEO of engineering and construction firms.

She said employers have an obligation to take part of promoting education and it is a mission of the Citizens Council.

“We are definitely trying to promote workforce enhancement and especially the employment opportunities that are coming about,” Acosta said.

Citizens Council CEO Kelvin Walker said the organization works to reflect the diverse city that Dallas is today.

“The Citizens Council has been around for 86 years. We’ve grown a lot. And our mission is to create and foster the environment for inclusive growth,” he said. “As we continue to add people here, we use the largess of the large companies and CEOs as a way of thinking about, what are the ways we create inclusive growth by collaborating both with public agencies and philanthropy to make sure we have a place where people want to live and do business.”

Some of that was happening at Thursday’s annual meeting.

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