The Ten Most Significant Economic Developments of 2019 in Texas

It seemed like every few minutes of 2019 you could find a big economic development announcement coming out of Texas. Big expansions by existing businesses, relocation of corporate facilities, and new facilities came at a furious pace.

I decided to look through the announcements and select the Top 10 announcements that are going to move the Texas economy in the 2020s. The projects represent billions of new dollars of capital investment, ten of thousands of new jobs, and more than $60 million in deal-closing support from the Texas Enterprise Fund.

If you want to view the locations of the Top Ten, you can visit the interactive map by clicking here.

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#1: Apple takes a billion dollar bite in NW Austin

Rendering of Apple’s new $1 billion campus along Parmer Lane in northwest Austin.

In 2019, Apple announced it would build a $1 billion campus on 133 acres in northwest Austin to eventually house upwards of an additional 15,000 employees.

The project, which will open its first phase in 2022, is located less than a mile from their existing Austin campus which is valued at more than $500 million and houses about 7,000 employees.

Apple has made quite a home away from home in Austin. In fact, Austin has Apple’s largest headcount outside of Cupertino, California and it appears intent on growing that to more than 20,000 employees in the coming years.

Once completed, Apple will own more than $1.5 billion in office facilities in northwest Austin along Parmer Lane. For more details on Apple’s history in Austin, check out this link that traces Apple’s moves and expansions in Austin since the 1990s.

#2: Plano adds to its “Legacy” with a big expansion by JP Morgan Chase

Chase’s new offices in Legacy West. A new 12 story tower will be added on-site in 2020 to accommodate an additional 4,000 workers.

2019 was a big year for Chase in Plano. First, they settled into their newly constructed one million square foot office in Legacy West. Then, late in 2019, they announced they will be adding another 500,000 square foot tower and parking garage on the property.

The new tower will bring Chase’s headcount on the site to more than 11,000 and still leave the financial services firm room to grow.

If Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon’s comments in this Bloomberg article are any indication, it won’t be long until the company announces new investments and job growth in Texas.

Legacy West has arguable been the nation’s most successful attractor of corporate relocation in the past five years. In addition to Chase’s significant investments, Legacy West is home to newly developed headquarters for Toyota North America and Boeing Global Services, as well as regional offices for Liberty Mutual and FedEx. In total, these five companies will employ more than 20,000 workers in Legacy West by 2022.

The 75024 zip code, which Legacy West is located in, has more than $8 billion in annual wages paid to workers. This ranks as the 3rd highest concentration in the entire state.

By 2022, it is likely that the area will be home to more than 100,000 jobs and more than $10 billion in annual wages.

#3: Westlake remains straight money and financial services with announcements by Charles Schwab

View of Charles Schwab Construction in Circle T Ranch in Westlake

Westlake added another large financial services firm to its exclusive community in 2019.

Charles Schwab was already under construction on 500,000 square feet of corporate office on a 75 acre site in Circle T Ranch when they announced an additional 500,000 square feet would be added.

Schwab’s headcount at this location is now expected to be more than 6,000. Schwab was no doubt attracted to the cluster of financial service firms in Westlake that include large facilities for TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, and Deloitte. In total, there are approximately 12,000 financial services jobs within two miles of the site.

The additions by Schwab are supported by more than $6 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. If the recently announced merger with TD Ameritrade closes in 2020, Westlake is anticipated to be the company’s headquarters.

Side Note for Texas Economic Developers: If you are headed out to San Francisco to discuss additional corporate relocation, you might view the comments of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce when asked about Schwab’s decision to relocate their HQ from California.

“the City’s unpredictable tax policy, high housing and office costs, transit problems, and challenges around homelessness and crime are driving away businesses.”

San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Executive

#4 Uber catches a ride into Deep Ellum (Dallas)

Westdale’s Epic Development in Deep Ellum

Deep Ellum has been a haven for dive bars and creatives for a generation. During that generation. During 2019, we found out that its future will be marked by a major new mixed-use development called the Epic, which will include a new regional Uber facility.

We wrote about this move in September with a detailed analysis. Since that time, Westdale has been busy constructing the first building and getting started on second Uber building on-site.

By 2022, Uber anticipates having 3,000 employees on-site with average wages well above $100,000. This will be a substantial jolt for businesses in and around downtown Dallas. It is also projected by Ford Insights to make the average wage in Deep Ellum equivalent to that of Greater Downtown Dallas.

#5 Magnolia continues to build on their Waco empire

I may be called a “homer” for this one, but after you read all the announcements in 2019 made by Chip and JoAnna Gaines, you will see why they are included in the Top 10 in 2019.

Crowd at Silobration concert in 2019 at Magnolia Silos in downtown Waco

In total, the Gaines’ and their partnerships are taking on tens of millions of dollars of new projects in downtown Waco in 2020. Their shining star, the Magnolia Silos, are visited by about 2 million people a year. The Silos are under-going a substantial expansion which will open in 2020; including:

  • Whiffle-ball stadium
  • 8 new retail pods
  • Magnolia Furniture Gallery
  • Magnolia Press Coffee
  • Relocating and refurbishing a historic church on-site

Additionally, Chip and JoAnna will launch their television network (Magnolia Network) in October 2020. The network will feature content curated by Chip and Jo, including an estimated 13 new series or shows.

Finally, Magnolia has partnered with AJ Partners to renovate a 50,000 square foot building in downtown Waco into a boutique hotel. The property is anticipated to have about 40 rooms and will no doubt be booked months in advance. If you aren’t familiar with AJ Partners, click here to view their outstanding portfolio of boutique hotels.

#6: Frisco scores another sports partnership with PGA of America and Omni Hotels

Frisco has made a habit of forging creative sports partnerships that have resulted in the construction of multiple professional sports facilities in the last few years. These have included billions of dollars of public-private partnerships including:

2019 saw another high-profile partnership for Frisco. This partnership is on a 600 acre property just west of the Dallas North Tollway where more than $500 million development has started and will continue through 2022.

The development will include PGA of America’s relocated headquarters, 45 holes of professional golf, retail space, as well as Frisco’s second Omni Hotel and convention Center. The development’s infrastructure upgrades and layout is well documented by the City of Frisco’s Story Map.

The development already has commitments for 23 PGA events in the next 13 years, including two Men’s PGA Championships, two Women’s PGA Championships, and two Senior PGA Championships. There is no doubt that the development will make Frisco the epicenter of the golfing world.

#7 San Antonio trucking into 2020 with a Billion Dollar Week of Manufacturing Announcements

A Toyota Tundra on the assembly line in San Antonio

A record week for San Antonio’s manufacturing industry started with an announcement by Toyota North America that it would invest more than $391 million in its existing south San Antonio truck manufacturing plant.

Only days later, AISIN AW, a major supplier and partner with Toyota, announced it would invest $400 million in a new facility in Cibolo. The 159 acre site is about 20 miles northeast of San Antonio. The facility will produce transmissions starting as early as 2021 and will have 900 full-time workers at the facility by 2023. This move by AISIN AW signals Toyota’s long-term interest in the San Antonio area.

The final investment announcement of the week was another big one for automotive manufacturing in the region. Navistar announced it would build a $250 million facility in San Antonio that will employ 600 employees. The facility will start construction in 2020 and start producing Class 6, 7, and 8 International Trucks in about two years.

By the end of the week, the San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg had tweeted the best economic development soundbite since Frisco’s $5 Billion Mile in Frisco in 2015.

#8 Arlington hits another home run with Cordish Companies

The award for the most creative public-private partnership of 2019 in Texas might have to go to this $800 million project. The Cordish Company development is being financed with a creative stack of public incentives, including:

  • An $11 million Economic Development grant
  • $49.6 million in Tax Increment backed bonds
  • Rebates of sales, hotel occupancy, and mixed-beverage taxes for 30 years or a maximum of $40 million
  • A one-time payment of $10 million to convert underground parking at Globe Life Park to convention space.

This deal was announced in November as a second phase to the partnership that created Texas Live!. The new project will include an 880 room Loews Hotel, large convention center, a headquarters corporate office building for Six Flags, and a large public parking facility.

The project will adjoin the Texas Rangers new $1.1 billion home and the first phase of Texas Live!, which is a $250 million entertainment venue. Also in the neighborhood is AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys and Six Flags over Texas amusement park. The Entertainment District will also be home to the $150 million National Medal of Honor Museum when it is completed in 2024.

Congrats to the City of Arlington for staying true to your hopes and dreams for the Entertainment District. It has certainly surpassed the dream that was Tom Hicks’ Glory Park.

#9 Steel Dynamic is rolling into Sinton with a $1.9 billion steel mill

Most of the announcements in the Top 10 list are in urbanized areas. That is part of trend that shows how hard rural economic development can be. With that in mind, we selected a rural project for #9 on the list. Steel Dynamics will construct a $1.9 billion flat roll steel mill in Sinton about 30 minutes northwest of Corpus Christi.

Steel Dynamics is one of the largest steel producers in the United States and will bring the project and its 600 jobs to the 2,500 acre site in 2021.

The project received $5.9 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund as well as incentives from the County and School District (value limitation agreement).

Steel Dynamics’ incentives application indicate that the average wage for the jobs will be $76,000, which is significantly higher than the $43,000 average wage in the county.

The steel mill will represent a significant gain for manufacturing in a county that has seen manufacturing employment decline from 2,800 in 2001 to 850 in 2019. Similarly, the mill’s employment will result in a significant gain in manufacturing payroll in the County.

#10 Microsoft Expands in Irving

Last, but not least, is an announcement out of Irving. Las Colinas actually had an outstanding year for announcements further cementing its role in moving the State’s economy forward. Some of more notable announcements or moves included:

Coming in at #10 is Microsoft’s recent decision to add 575 technology jobs to its campus in Las Colinas. The job additions will push the campus to close to 2,000 employees. The deal was enough for to get the Governor in Irving to announce a $4.8 million award from the Texas Enterprise Fund.

Since Microsoft opened up shop on its 32 acre site in Irving in 1999, annual wages in this zip code have grown from $2.4 billion in 2000 to more than $4.4 billion in 2017.

Well, that is the Top 10 for 2019. Congrats to all the economic developers and risk-takers out there that worked so hard to make 2019 a big year in Texas. If you want to view the locations of the Top Ten, you can visit the interactive map by clicking here.

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Published by Bradley Ford

Local government professional in Texas that enjoys discussions on data, analytics, and leadership.