Fort Worth is serious about becoming a leading center of tech and innovation. How serious? Today it became the first city government in the U.S. to mine Bitcoin—and it’s doing it right in Fort Worth City Hall.
Three S9 Bitcoin mining machines donated by the Texas Blockchain Council began running 24/7 today in the city hall’s climate-controlled IT Solutions Department Data Center, following a city council vote that authorized the six-month pilot program.
“We want to make sure not only Fort Worth, but the entire state of Texas, is crypto friendly to be the crypto capital of the world,” Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said on a live Twitter feed at 2:30 p.m. today, just before plugging in the mining machines. “Here’s our big moment. Okay, we are officially mining Bitcoin in the city of Fort Worth!”
With blockchain technology and cryptocurrency revolutionizing the financial landscape, “we want to transform Fort Worth into a tech-friendly city,” Parker added in a statement. “Today, with the support and partnership of Texas Blockchain Council, we’re stepping into that world on a small scale while sending a big message—Fort Worth is where the future begins.”
“These small but powerful machines mark Fort Worth’s larger commitment to becoming a leading hub for technology and innovation,” Parker added.
The Bitcoin mining machines at city hall are hosted on a private network to minimize security issues, the city said.
Approved by city council this morning
A resolution voted on by the Fort Worth city council this morning encouraged the “growth of blockchain and cryptocurrency technology companies in Fort Worth” and highlighted several things that motivated the pilot: Nasdaq.com’s reporting $30 billion in venture capital investment in the crypto space in 2021; Texas’ HB4474 and HB1576 laws recognizing cryptocurrency in Texas’ Uniform Commercial Code and establishing a blockchain master plan work group respectively; and President Biden’s March 9, 2022, executive order on “responsible development of digital assets.”
Bratcher: ‘Texas is the epicenter for Bitcoin mining globally’
Lee Bratcher, president and founder of the Texas Blockchain Council, joined Mayor Parker in the live Twitter feed for the pilot’s launch.
“Texas is the epicenter for Bitcoin mining globally,” Bratcher said in the live feed. “And now Fort Worth is positioning itself to be the capital of Bitcoin mining in Texas. And with the vision of Fort Worth to be a city of innovation, a city of technology, attracting entrepreneurs and venture capital here, this is a great step one of many that you and your administration is taking at the city to ensure that happens.”
Bratcher also expressed gratitude in a statement for the support of several of the council’s member companies, including Luxor Technologies and Rhodium Enterprises, “as they provided strategic guidance for this project.”
Another day at the Bitcoin mine
To mine Bitcoin, Fort Worth’s new S9 machines dig deep into math. The three machines use sophisticated hardware to solve an “extremely complex” computational math problem. When a computer solves the problem, it gets the next block of Bitcoin. This process is how new Bitcoins are brought into circulation.
Cryptocurrency mining has a reputation for extravagant power usage, but that won’t be the case at Fort Worth City Hall. The city estimates that each of the three computers will consume the same energy as a household vacuum cleaner. Fort Worth is limiting the six-month pilot program to three machines to achieve its goals of responsibly assessing and executing a municipal Bitcoin mining program at a manageable scale.
“I’ve been joking that we’re Cowtown and cryptocurrency, right?” Mayor Parker said on the live feed. “It’s all happening in Fort Worth. But we really wanted to do this carefully.”
The city anticipates the energy use will be offset by the value of the Bitcoin mined, and the limited scope of the pilot program will allow for an assessment of both impacts and opportunities for Bitcoin mining after six months.
Mayor Parker: ‘We wanted to be in the middle’ of crypto advances
In the Twitter live feed, Mayor Parker said Fort Worth’s Bitcoin mining step is “awesome, but it’s bigger than that.”
“What I’ve noticed lately is any company that’s on the forefront of technology, they’re all talking about cryptocurrency,” Parker said. “They’re either involved already, or they’re thinking about it. Just today, Fidelity announced it’s going to be a part of their platform for 401Ks. This is where things are heading. We wanted to be in the middle of that.”
Parker also gave “special kudos” to Texas Governor Abbott and the Texas Legislature for their efforts to make Texas a cryptocurrency capital.
Robert Sturns, Fort Worth’s director of economic development, celebrated the event as well.
“Texas is increasingly being recognized as the global leader in Bitcoin and blockchain, and Fort Worth will have a seat at that table,” Sturns said in the statement. “The pioneering spirit is alive and well in Fort Worth, and with this program we will attract dynamic companies that share in this vision for the future.”
Adds a piece to a larger city plan
Becoming the first U.S. city to mine Bitcoin is part of a larger growth plan for the city, including partnerships with Texas A&M University System’s planned Research and Innovation Center in downtown Fort Worth and the Techstars Physical Health Fort Worth Accelerator, and the establishment of Fort Worth’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council Committee.
The city’s Economic Development Strategic Plan has the goal of “next-level” economic development that will “encourage innovation and creativity; build an environment that’s attractive to talented individuals and dynamic businesses; and maintain a forward-looking organizational structure.”
Adding Bitcoin mining and a crypto positive stance to the mix is another step toward courting innovation and creativity for Fort Worth—and there’s little doubt that cities across America are taking notice today.
Texas political support for crypto
In the live feed, Bratcher of the Texas Blockchain Council reiterated how important political support has been for crypto in the state, saying the council has been in the process of researching legislation with elected officials on both sides of the aisle in the state legislature.
“Of course, Governor Abbott signed these pieces of legislation into law, and the most important was House Bill 4474,” Bratcher added. “That legislation created definitions around what virtual currency is for the state of Texas for the purpose of business law. That was passed in May of last year and went into effect in September. We’ve come full circle now with the great city of Fort Worth, mining Bitcoin and fully participating in what will be the future.”
David Seeley and Quincy Preston contributed to this report.
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