“Where else would you rather be right now than Dallas, Texas?” is a question Dale Petroskey, President and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber, often and proudly asks in economic development meetings and conversations. “It’s just easier in Dallas” is a short and sweet statement that I heard Mayor Mike Rawlings use to effectively wrap up a slide deck pitch to executives with a potential relocating company. I really like Mark Cuban’s description of Dallas as a “friction-free” place to start and grow a business. “Best region, best state, best nation” is something I’ll often say when asked why this region has been so incredibly successful in attracting companies.
The Chamber’s strategic plan developed for 2016-2020 recognized that this region has had tremendous success in attracting companies, but that in order to continue that success, we need to help those companies, and companies already here, to attract, find and retain employees. One major element of the Chamber’s five-year plan calls for a talent attraction initiative.
If you’re a fan of a quick phrase that packs a lot of meaning, then you’ll like “Say Yes to Dallas,” the name for our talent attraction campaign to showcase Dallas as a great place to start or continue a career, to raise a family, and to experience a high quality of life.
Corporate recruitment and talent recruitment go hand in hand these days. Every company the Dallas Regional Chamber meets to recruit here is focused in a big way on labor force. The ability to relocate, to attract, to find, or to develop talent is critical to company success. Our region’s ability to provide and to draw talent will be the determining factor in whether we win or lose most deals.
2016 was a planning and development year for the campaign. The Chamber hosted five focus groups to collect information and perceptions about the attributes and challenges in attracting individuals and families to Dallas. We also conducted a nationwide, professionally executed survey of 1,000 young people who are living outside of Texas. We learned a lot.
We learned that we are starting this campaign on solid ground. Already, 61 percent of non-Texan millennials have a favorable perception of Dallas, and 58 percent would consider moving to Dallas for the right job. Those are strong numbers; particularly since included in the survey were young people living in some pretty cool places with beaches, mountains, or both, even if those places are impossibly expensive. We learned that strong selling points for Dallas are the availability and variety of job opportunities, the low cost of living, especially compared to those famously expensive places, no personal income tax, lots of options for housing, the central U.S. location, our two great airports, and the overall quality of public schools in the region. The focus groups were not shy about sharing their perceptions of Dallas’ challenges, like infrastructure, public transportation, commuting and traffic, the hot summers, and lack of mountains and beaches, and the availability of housing near downtown Dallas.
2017 is the first full year of the campaign’s implementation. The Chamber has built an entirely new Talent Attraction department, led by Jessica Heer, Senior Vice President. Jessica has been with the Chamber for several years, most of those working with me in corporate recruitment. Her experience working with companies, human resource executives, and even relocating employees and families is perfect for this new role. Already, featured articles, videos and a host of “Say Yes To Dallas” campaign materials are available at the campaign’s website, www.sayyestodallas.com. There is a lot more to come as we build a very powerful capability to market to individuals and families and encourage them to come to Dallas, while also providing a toolkit suite of resources for existing regional companies as well as inbound relocations to attract and retain the best and brightest.