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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The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right – Martin Luther King, Jr

The naming of a new aircraft carrier was announced today at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. To the casual observer, you might think Martin Luther King Day would not be the best day to name a $15 billion war machine.

However, this naming was timed perfectly. For the first time, a carrier is being named for an African-American who served in the Navy. By 2028, the most advanced aircraft carrier in the world will be named the USS Doris Miller.

Doris Miller is a war hero from World War II, whose story has long been under-recognized as a pivotal moment in race relations in the United States.

Read my three observations about Doris Miller below the following timeline of his life, death, and recognition.

Timeline of Doris Miller’s Life, Death, and Recognition

Before moving to Waco in 2017, I had virtually no knowledge of Doris Miller. Despite his story being highlighted in two motion pictures (Tora! Tora! Tora! – 1970 and Pearl Harbor – 2001), I had not yet heard the story of the brave Doris Miller, who was born not too far from my office in Waco, Texas.

Today, I read a variety of accounts from the past 80 years of records about Doris Miller to help me understand the significance of the naming of an aircraft carrier for him. This includes 1940s newspaper articles, Congressional records, and even reviewing the first-hand accounts of officers on board the USS West Virginia on December 7, 1941.

I have noted three observations from my reading that I think are worth sharing with you.

First Observation: “An un-named Negro

On January 1, 1942, only a couple of weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a commendation list was produced by the United States Navy. On it were a list of heroic actions taken by various people. The actions were noted by people’s names and ranks.

Lastly, almost as an after-thought, there is a commendation for “an un-named Negro”.

A man, who is credited by first-hand accounts with saving many sailors, providing service to his wounded Captain, and manning a machine gun for which he was not trained at great peril to himself, is noted as “an un-named Negro”.

Many newspapers quoted the Navy’s commendation list without a second thought.

Only one, the Pittsburgh Courier, worked to find out this hero’s name.

Second Observation: Back to Work

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Doris went back to battle on the USS Liscome Bay and was ultimately killed in an attack by Japanese submarines in 1943. He wasn’t necessarily offered to come back home and do a war hero tour like some of his counter-parts. He didn’t get to go to Officer’s School. No, he picked up his pack and went back to serving at sea.

Third Observation: Persistence Pays Off

Multiple attempts, including in 1942 and as recently as 2017, to award Doris Miller with a Medal of Honor have been unsuccessful. Without much documented explanation, Doris Miller has not received a Medal of Honor.

Countless buildings, schools, and landmarks have been named for him, yet the Medal of Honor escapes his legacy. But today, after decades of people telling his story, the United States Navy has found something big enough, strong enough to carry the legacy of Doris Miller.

When launched in 2028, the USS Doris Miller will be the most advanced aircraft carrier in the world. Weighing in at 100,000 tons, the carrier will hold more than 80 aircraft and be a symbol of freedom and strength around the globe.

Typically, aircraft carriers are named for Presidents. In fact, 10 of the last 14 have been named for Presidents, two have been named for Senators, one was named the Enterprise.

The 14th, and most recent, aircraft carrier is being named for an African-American cook.

A cook that stepped up when the moment required it of him and who gave all of America a reason to be proud.

For more on Doris Miller, watch the video below.

Check out the interactive timeline above showing the life of Doris Miller, the events surrounding his death in 1943, and the continual requests for appropriate recognition for this hero. Also included the timeline are: historical photographs of Doris pictures of the ships he served on, and a picture of the $2.8 million Doris Miller Memorial in Waco, Texas.

Learning Something New

This week, I learned something new! Interactive charting that helps tell a story of change over time. Check out the chart below and then read the blog post on continuous learning.

Press the blue play button to start the animation. Also, you can click any spot on the lower timeline and the chart will re-animate based on the month you select.

Hint: Watch for the complete overtaking of the EV market by the Tesla Model 3 in about April 2018.

Funny things happen when you sit around the office after 5:00. I was visiting with a co-worker about data visualization. The co-worker asked me what types of visualizations catch my eye when I am on the internet.

I told her that I really liked the animated charts that adjust on the time scale to show changes over time. The exact chart I recalled was a history of the gross domestic product (GDP) for various countries around the world.

So she just comes out and says , “Go figure out how to do it.” She also encouraged me that it could not be rocket science and with a little effort I could figure it out.

What my co-worker didn’t realize is that I had read Harvard Business Review article on coping with stress a couple weeks ago. Yes…my job has it moments of stress. I know that comes as a shocker.

My takeaway from the article was that I had three options for dealing with stress.

  1. Grind Through It
  2. Retreat!
  3. Focus on Learning

So after my wife and I put the kids to bed that evening, I looked at my phone and saw that my co-worker had sent me a note saying I should look at Electric Vehicle (EV) sales over time and then try to make an animated chart.

So around 9:00 PM, I started my journey to create an animated chart of EV sales in the United States.

I quickly came across various tools and approaches to create animated charts. I decided to use Flourish Studio. They had a quick blog post showing how to create a bar chart race without any coding needed. Within a few minutes, I had created a test chart and was ready to roll.

My next step was to go find the data needed for the chart. I honed in on data from InsideEVs. Their website is full of various news, videos, and data on EVs. They happened to have sales data for EVs make and model since 2011 readily available.

After an hour or two setting up various types of spreadsheets and testing various statistical techniques, I settled on charting the vehicle sales using a Rolling 12 Month (R12) Average. The R12 method allowed a smoother transition in the charting since sales of EVs are variable by season (and available tax credits) which caused for many vehicle models to move into and out of the data-set quickly.

By 1:15 am, after a few test runs with the chart, I had dropped the HTML code into my blog and it actually works.

The moral of the story, get out there and learn something new everyday!

Our Epic California Road Trip

Thanksgiving Week Trip to California

We had an epic road-trip over Thanksgiving Break. The five of us spent 9 days in California and found out a few things about ourselves. Typically, the Ford Family spends Thanksgiving week in Big Bend National Park on the border of Texas and Mexico.

After five years enjoying that same trip, we decided for 2019 to fly from Dallas to San Francisco and rent a car to explore California for nine days.

Our trip was nothing short of awesome. We were dealt some curve-balls with two enormous snowstorms, but the snow caused us to be resourceful with our time and also allowed us to focus in on beautiful places we didn’t anticipate visiting.

We traversed more than 1,500 miles, saw three national parks, multiple state parks, learned about the “State of Jefferson”, figured out we love waterfalls and lighthouses, and most importantly created many memories for our blessed family.

Couple of ways to view how great this trip was. First, this blog post. I have separated the images by the day they were taken. The second way to view the trip is via a Story Map. The interactive map will show you the location where the picture was taken with a few details about the picture as well. This is a great way to get perspective on how much of the state we covered in nine days. Click here for the interactive map.

Day One Highlights

We spent the first day in and around San Francisco. We discovered Golden Gate Park, which rivals Central Park in size and activities. We made our way to Sausalito for lunch and then onto two of the many beautiful lighthouses along the California coast.

Day Two Highlights

We left San Francisco on day two and headed south to Monterrey, Pebble Beach, and Big Sur. Big Sur was a high-point for me, as was the ending of our day with sunset on Pfeiffer State Park Beach. The sunset produced beautiful purple and orange hues in the sand and sky.

Day Three Highlights

We drove well into the night on Day Two and arrived at our cabin in Sequoia National Park well past midnight. What we didn’t realize was that our cabin lacked some of the more ideal amenities….like a heater and bathroom. We spent the night in well below freezing temperatures and awoke early the next morning to go explore. As daylight came in, we quickly realized that in the corner of the room we had a wood-fired heating stove in our room. In the immortal words from The Wedding Singer, information that would have been useful yesterday.

Day Four Highlights

The snow came in over night on Day Three and it was heavy. It made for a beautiful day in Yosemite National Park. The trip up Hwy 41 was a white-knuckler and included a road checkpoint comment from a California Highway Patrolman that “since we had tire chains, he could not stop us from going in”.

We also got to appreciate a snap decision to upgrade the rental car from a planned mini-van to a 4×4 Nissan Armada. We would have missed so much if we didn’t have this vehicle. It was worth every penny over the next few days as we worked to adjust our trip around the big winter storm.

While we weren’t able to stay for the three days we wanted (since roads were going to get worse and ultimately close), we definitely saw enough of Yosemite to know we have to come back. In fact, it looks like it needs a whole week all to itself.

Day Five Highlights

Day Five was Thanksgiving so we started our day with a visit to Shari’s Cafe in Red Bluff. The west coast chain was pretty good and hit the spot on Thanksgiving. The meal gave us the fuel to have what was arguably our best day of exploring. The day took us to McArthur-Burney Falls State Park, which is a must see in northern California.

Day Six Highlights

The drive to start day six actually took us into southern Oregon and around to the coast of northern California. Our server in Red Bluff on Thanksgiving Day suggested with go to Trees of Mystery since it was fun for the kids. While we don’t typically do the touristy things, we decided to try it since it had a gondola ride through a redwood forest. The tour around the property was worth the price of admission.

We also found a herd of Roosevelt Elk along Hwy 101. It appears they are regularly there if you want to stop by Valley Green Camp Road. There is lodging there if you want to wake up to a herd of elk.

Day Seven Highlights

We worked our way down the northern Californian coast on Day Seven. We drove the scenic route along the Avenue of the Giants, where we found lots of locations to hop out and view areas of redwood trees.

We ended our evening in Fort Bragg. What an awesome downtown they have. Lots of independent shops and restaurants. We grabbed a pizza and then ended our evening with ice cream at Cowlick’s.

Fort Bragg is an interesting case study in economic and community development. The town saw its major employer (lumber mill) close in 2002 and take with it a thousands of jobs. Now, the town is working to re-develop the site which is more than 500 acres and sits along the coastline near the vibrant downtown.

Day Eight Highlights

Deanna woke up early and took the kids out to explore the Fort Bragg coastline. She was treated to a beautiful double rainbow. Once I woke up, we explored Glass Beach in Fort Bragg and then worked our way down to Point Arena, which is a must-see lighthouse.

Blessed Are The Curious For They Will Have Adventures.

Lovelle Drachman

Trip Summary

As you can tell, we had an amazing trip. It was refreshing for us to spend more than a week together. Ultimately, northern California was worth every minute we were there. No regrets about choosing it as a destination for our 2019 Thanksgiving trip.

Click here if you want to see a map of the various places we visited with the pictures highlighted along the way.

Have a great Christmas! Bradley Ford bradley@fordinsights.com

Life is Good In Waco

The past month has been an absolute whirlwind of positive regional and national press for Waco. It is safe to say we are experiencing a dramatic turn-around in our community, the seeds of which were planted by thoughtful leaders years ago.

Let’s just look at the examples of Waco being in the regional or national spotlight in the past 30 days.

As great as these nationally significant stories are, some of our best victories get hilariously crowded out by Chip teaching Jimmy to two-step.

This includes the more than $100 million in new construction occurring downtown and an additional $200 million anticipated by 2022.

Businesses are sprouting up all over the central city and the entrepreneurial spirit is simply electric.

Waco is making big money moves.

District One Council-member
Andrea Barefield

Some of the most impactful big money moves include:

TFNB is opening a new full service location in 2020 in East Waco

TFNB, the oldest bank charter in McLennan County, has purchased a building on Elm Avenue and will open a full-service financial location in 2020. TFNB will be the first bank in the pre-dominantly African American East Waco in almost 90 years.

L-3 / Harris has been awarded a $500 million C-130 modernization program

L-3 is re-energizing their Waco facility, which includes more than 1 million square feet of aerospace manufacturing space on the campus of the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) campus. The site currently includes more than 800 full-time employees and 100 contractor positions.

The recent contract win is proof of their commitment to Waco and shows great days are ahead for advanced manufacturing in Waco.   

Key Funding from the TIF Board to continue supporting East Waco Revitalization

The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Board recommended more than $6.1 million in new improvements to occur in East Waco. The awarded projects compliment the prior investments in streetscape, infrastructure, and facade improvements along Elm Avenue.

The primary investment will include a festival street along Bridge Street that was designed with substantial public input led by City Center Waco and various neighborhood partners.

As I said, Life is Good in Waco, but we still have work to do. We have a robust economy that is at all-time highs.

But this record economy hasn’t quite hit all corners of our community.

Hear me….there are still pockets of the City experiencing elevated rates of poverty, unemployment, and health disparities. That is why the Mayor and City Council have led out talking about equitable practices and strategic economic development.  

Now is the time to ensure the turn-around impacts all of Waco.

Stay tuned to hear more about our efforts in equitable practices.

Texas Chapter of American Planning Association (TxAPA) Comes to Waco!

In preparation for the roughly 1,000 planners and spouses that will descend upon Waco this week as part of the Texas Chapter APA conference, I spent some time thinking about the places I would suggest they try to visit.

As a recovering City Planner (and now Assistant City Manager in Waco), I remember attending state conferences in El Paso and Galveston. These were great cities for planning conferences, but I remember feeling like I should have planned better to see more of the city.

To help the attendees at this year’s conference have an amazing time in Waco, I curated a Story Map below to highlight a few of my favorite places. This includes:

  • 9 museums/galleries
  • 25+ public art locations
  • 5 local coffee shops
  • 12 independent restaurants
  • 12 locations for a post-session drink or happy hour

Use the tabs to find what you are most interested in and plan to make the most of your time in Waco. Almost all of the locations are walk-able from the Convention Center or downtown hotels like the Hilton, Courtyard by Marriott, Hotel Indigo, or Residence Inn.

Waco, as millions have learned over the last couple years, is a great place to spend a few days. It is a beacon of small business and entrepreneurial spirit. The establishments highlighted are filled with businesses that have poured their heart and soul in Waco. Stop by and say hi to them.

It is a City full of hope, creativity, and fun.

Check out the map by clicking here

A More Detailed Look Inside the Economic Impact of Uber’s Regional Headquarters in Deep Ellum

Economic Developers around the country ears perked up with the recent announcement by Uber that it would bring a new regional hub to Deep Ellum in Dallas. The hub would add about 3,000 new workers to the Epic Development in Deep Ellum. The new jobs would pay at least $100,000 annually totaling more than $300,000,000 in new wages.

The deal had such high potential the State of Texas made one of its largest awards from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF), the state’s deal-closing fund. $24 million to be exact.

I saw many headlines of the deal in articles from respected entities like CNBCthe Dallas Morning News, or MarketWatch. What I didn’t see was any context about how impactful the additional high wage jobs would be in the area or even how the jobs would compare to other areas of the state.

This is a common occurrence in today’s quick news cycle. We are in such a rush to tweet the most current news, we don’t slow down to think about the context. So, let me shed a little light on the topic of context. 

The day that the team at Westdale and KDC put a shovel in the ground, Deep Ellum was set on a journey towards a greater significance in employment in the core of Dallas. 

The average wage for all jobs located in Deep Ellum is currently estimated at $68,000. Uber’s presence in Deep Ellum will grow over the next three years and result in an average wage by 2023 of more than $94,000.

The move will vault Deep Ellum from a current ranking of 152nd in the state for high wage employment to a likely ranking in the top 20 sub-markets in the state for high wage employment. The presence of Uber’s Regional Headquarters will also reduce the gap between average wage in greater downtown Dallas and Deep Ellum from about 30% currently to less than 3% in 2023. 

For more statistics or visualizations of the change to employment and wages, we have placed them here.

Before you email me or send me a LinkedIn message, I know that Uber had a huge loss in its first quarter as a publicly traded company. There is not enough ink in the barrel to speculate as to whether Uber will succeed as a company, much less the sustainability of the jobs they are bringing to Texas.

This piece is simply providing context to the project announcement since we can assume that 6 of 10 people did not actually read the article when first published in August.


When did “the City” become a bad word?

I was in a convenience store with my daughter this week. My ears perked up as the cashier’s discussion with the customer in front of me got my attention. Their conversation was centered on road construction and the changes coming to the area.

My ears perked up to see what their impressions were, and I thought to myself, this is a productive discussion. For one, they know there is something happening…and they care enough to discuss it.

My view of the conversation turned with the cashier’s comment… “Well the city is re-zoning all that property down by the traffic circle.” Her main emphasis being on the words “the city” like she was ready to march to City Hall with her pitchfork. Her customer quipped back,” well they probably just want to bring another gas station in there.” 

It was a quick reminder on a hot Texas day that public servants are often assumed to be against the average citizen. Much like all those keyboard warriors you see criticizing local spending or construction projects on Facebook groups, it reminded me that some may not believe that we are here to serve. For a moment, I questioned my career choice as I stood in line to pay for my cold drink. It made me wonder:

No alt text provided for this image

So, I reviewed the research to see how the public trust compared across various levels of government and institutions. According to Gallup and Pew results, local government remains the most trusted government level in the United States.

I was encouraged that by and large people still are giving local government the benefit of the doubt. Let’s keep up the good work and strive to protect the public trust. Looking for more content on this topic? Here is a resource for you from Governing.com.

Interested in learning more about local government, economic development, and my other musings….subscribe below for future updates.