Form the start, the founders of Dallas envisioned a logistics hub that would open new markets to commerce. It all began back in 1839 with John Neely Bryan's vision of a trading post on the Trinity River serving both Indians and settlers. The pace quickened when the Houston & Texas Central Railroad and Texas & Pacific Railroad arrived in the early 1870s, along with telegraph lines and terminus merchants and stores such as Sanger Bros. By the 1880s Dallas had a board of trade, a merchant exchange, electric lights, The Dallas Morning News and a baseball team -- not the Texas Rangers, who arrived in 1972, but the Dallas Hams.
The city's economy continued to grow, shifting from the buffalo (for a short time Dallas was a center for the buffalo market) to grain, cotton, oil and manufacturing. The city became a corporate magnet, especially after World War II, as companies began to move to the region. Today more than 140,000 companies operate in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and more than 6,000 have their headquarters there, according to the Greater Dallas Chamber. In 1999, Forbes ranked the region third in the nation for the number of private company headquarters, with 11 in the city itself and 16 in the region, according to the chamber.
Economically, Dallas is indissolubly linked with its neighbor to the west, Fort Worth, which was established as an army outpost in 1849. Fort Worth was the last major stop on the Chishoim Trail, and its role as a livestock market gained it the enduring, if not endearing, name of "Cowtown." Fort Worth now is home to companies such as Lockheed Martin, Pier 1 Imports, Radio-Shack Corp. and Justin Boots, which can outfit even a city slicker who's never been within 10 feet of a cow.
Lately a new wave of companies representing the biotechnology and information technology industries has been drawn to the area. In addition to companies such as Texas Instruments, Electronic Data Systems Corp. and CompUSA, the DallasFort Worth "metroplex" is home to supply-chain software developers 12 Technologies, EXE Technologies and GlobeRanger Corp.
What's Dallas-Fort Worth's big draw? Part of it is the region's "commerce mentality," said Ron Hasty, professor and director of the Center for Logistics Education Research at the …