Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pointed to the city of Irving and its master-planned suburb of Las Colinas as evidence of the state’s economic prowess during remarks he shared Monday at a news conference in Austin after accepting the "Governor’s Cup" award from Site Selection magazine.
"We’re all working together to ensure prosperity from economic development," Abbott said at the news conference. "As a result, the local economic development entities play a very profound role in making sure we win this cup.
"You need to know this, and that is that on a per-capita basis, Irving-Las Colinas has more Fortune 500 companies than any city in the United States of America."
Texas is home to many Fortune 500 (and Fortune 1000) companies, with Houston and Dallas boasting the most of any Texas cities. But is it possible that Irving has the most Fortune 500 companies per capita?
Fortune 500 vs. Fortune 1000
When asked, Abbott spokesman John Wittman said Abbott misspoke and meant to say Irving-Las Colinas is home to the most Fortune 1000 companies per capita.
We consulted the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce website to see if they kept track of this information and found a statement that describes the city as the "Headquarters of Headquarters, with more Fortune 1000 Headquarters per capita than any other city in the United States."
Erica Mulder, vice president of governmental affairs and communication for the chamber, said officials there had come to that conclusion by calculating their own per capita rate and then looking at the rate for other cities.
Mulder did not return multiple requests for comment seeking more detailed information about how this comparison was conducted.
On Friday morning, after PolitiFact Texas exchanged emails with officials at the Chamber, the claim was no longer visible on the webpage.
Diving into the numbers
Abbott’s original claim said Irving has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other city in the country.
So, we looked at a list of Fortune 500 companies and their headquarters provided by Fortune magazine and the latest population estimates available for each city from the Census Bureau.
Irving is home to seven companies on the Fortune 500 list, and the latest estimate from the Census Bureau shows it has a population of 240,373. This means there are about three Fortune 500 companies per 100,000 people in Irving.
Here is where things get complicated.
Looking cumulatively at the list of places with at least one Fortune 500 company, there are dozens of cities and towns that have a higher company-to-population ratio than Irving, according to our analysis.
Among them are places like Mayfield Village, Ohio, and Bloomfield Hills, Mich., both of which have just one Fortune 500 company headquarters but small populations (3,408 and 3,990, respectively).
This means Mayfield Village has a per capita value of 29 per 100,000 people and Bloomfield Hills has a per capita value of 25 per 100,000 people.
However, to get a better understanding of how the number of companies per capita in Irving compares to other cities, it makes more sense to measure Irving against cities of a similar size.
Looking at a list of cities with a population of over 100,000 and with at least one Fortune 500 company, Irving does have the most headquarters per capita.
But the claim from the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and Abbott’s spokesman that the city has the most Fortune 1000 companies per capita of any city in the United States is inaccurate no matter how you look at it.
With all headquarters locations in the mix, Irving does not come close to having the most Fortune 1000 companies per capita. When you compare it to cities of a similar size, those with more than 100,000 people, there are two cities with more Fortune 1000 companies per capita than Irving: Santa Clara, Calif., and Stamford, Conn.
Abbott said that Irving has more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any city in the country during a speech praising economic development efforts happening statewide and locally in Texas.
Nathan Jensen, a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies economic development strategies, said looking at the number of Fortune 500 companies in a particular city "isn’t a metric that most academics would consider as particularly valuable."
Jensen said a better measurement of the economic success or vitality of a city or region would be to look at factors like unemployment and wage growth.
"There is a lot of criticism in the academic literature in focusing on the number of 'deals' that are made, as opposed to thinking hard about how policies and business activity affect a community," Jensen said in an email.
At a press conference celebrating the state’s economic success, Abbott said that, "on a per capita basis, Irving-Las Colinas has more Fortune 500 companies than any city in the United States of America."
We did the math and his claim is wrong if you look at every single place with at least one Fortune 500 company. But when you do a more reasonable comparison with cities of a similar size (populations over 100,000), Irving does have the most Fortune 500 companies per capita.
We rate this claim Mostly True.
MOSTLY TRUE – The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.
Dallas Morning News, Irving, Las Colinas lauded by Gov. Greg Abbott as Texas wins award for business, March 4, 2019
Site Selection, Texas, Nebraska Repeat as Winners of Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup Awards, March 4, 2019
U.S. Census Bureau, City and Town Population Totals: 2010-2017, accessed March 4, 2019
Spreadsheet provided by Fortune, "2018 Fortune 1000 City Breakdown for PolitiFact Texas," accessed March 6, 2019
Spreadsheet created by PolitiFact Texas calculating the number of Fortune 500, Fortune 1000 companies per capita, created March 6, 2019
Phone interview with John Wittman, spokesman for Gov. Greg Abbott, March 6, 2019
Email Interview with Erica Mulder, vice president of governmental affairs and communications for the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, March 6-7, 2019
Business Facilities, "The Headquarters of Headquarters," Aug. 2018
Phone Interview with Jack Rogers, Editor in Chief of Business Facilities, March 6, 2019
Email Interview with Nathan Jensen, government professor at the University of Texas at Austin, March 7, 2019
Email Interview with Beth Bowman, president and chief executive officer of the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, March 8, 2019
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