By ERICA FLORES
Director of Economic Development,
Dallas Regional Chamber
As a Dallas native, I make it my personal mission to help others fall in love with the place I call home. I enjoy meeting people while on business travel and have ample opportunity with our economic development efforts that have taken me across the country and even across the world. It makes sense that I do what I do for a living — recruiting corporations to relocate to DFW or expand existing operations in the region. In this position, I get to do what I love most — travel and brag about Dallas. After all, I wouldn’t be a true Texan if I didn’t tell everyone I met that I’m from the Lone Star State.
Traditionally these trips consist of meetings with C-level executives at large companies and include an overview of the regional business climate. However, recently, the Dallas Regional Chamber has made an effort to educate employees of a relocating company so that they can make an informed decision about their own move, and we support the company to achieve its goals for bringing employees along on the move. This falls in line with the Chamber’s strategic plan as it relates to talent attraction. These trips are similar to the corporate meetings, but they’re on a more personal level, which is what I enjoy the most. That’s where my team and I come in.
We’ve been fortunate enough to host town hall style meetings for employees of Toyota, Kubota Tractor Corp., Jamba Juice, and Spirit Realty Capital, to name a few. It’s during these meetings that we come face-to-face with employees who have many questions — and sometimes misperceptions — about Dallas and the state of Texas as a whole, but I also learn more about Dallas and many of the things I have taken for granted. Sure, I know that the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is bigger than the island of Manhattan, or that the DART light rail system is the longest light rail system in America, but doesn’t everyone else in other metros have the same quality of life that the Dallas region does?
Our low cost of living makes North Texas an attractive destination for job seekers, millennials, and those looking for more opportunity. MyDallasMove.com has a great Cost of Living Calculator that we use in these employee presentations, and it allows you to plug in your annual salary in your current metro and compare it with DFW. For example, if you make $80k annually and live in San Francisco, you would only need to make $43, 784 to maintain the same lifestyle in Dallas. For some families considering a move, that could open up a world of possibilities like home ownership, family planning, or just overall financial freedom. I purchased my first home when I was 22 and have been renting, just outside of downtown Dallas for 12 years, and have been fortunate enough to have never felt the burden of housing costs like other markets do. This particular comparison shows that the Dallas housing market is over 75 percent less than San Francisco, with the cost of groceries, utilities, transportation, and health care all falling well below the city by the Bay. I don’t realize this is such a big deal, because for me, it just is.
Another bit of information that potential Dallasites are surprised to learn is that the Dallas region is a hub for transplants from all over. Now, to me, that seems like common knowledge. We have a low cost of doing business, low cost of living, jobs aplenty and it’s just better here. Our region currently holds at about 7 million residents with around 360 new residents added per day. Fifty seven percent of those new residents were added through net migration. Our largest net gains from other metro areas are from Los Angeles and Chicago with over 10,000 people migrating to the region between 2009-2013. New York comes in as a close third during that same time period. That’s a lot of out-of-towners. They come for work, school, family, and a variety of other reasons, but they come here and are immediately welcomed with Texas hospitality and a community of other transplants who are now proud to call Dallas home.
Others might look at me and think I love Dallas because it’s all I’ve ever known. That’s definitely a true statement. However, I learn more from the people I meet on my travels who tell me they visited for a conference and loved it, or from people in Dallas who are surprised to learn I’m a native because everyone they know is from somewhere else. People are moving here, from all over. That speaks for itself.