2016 was a great economic development year for the region, its cities and the Dallas Regional Chamber. More than 122,000 new jobs were added in Dallas-Fort Worth; only the much-larger New York metro area added more, and our region was far and away the leader in percentage job growth. The region is rolling, and so is the Dallas Regional Chamber, which is privileged to support great companies moving and expanding here.
Numbers aside, combine the relocation announcements of Jacobs Engineering, Charles Schwab, Jamba Juice, Thomson Reuters, McKesson, BlueCross BlueShield and OKI Data, and it’s self-evident that 2016 was a tremendous year for Chamber-involved deals. But there’s more to come: About 7,000 direct jobs are in the pipeline for 2017 and beyond.
We’re hustling. Last year, the Chamber attended face-to-face meetings with 130 companies or site consultants, hosted 34 corporate projects, and led 19 marketing missions or events.
We closed the year with 40 active projects, which included those about to announce, as well as projects just beginning to get serious.
Company executives we met in 2016 had consistent, positive impressions of the growth, optimism and energy they observed and sensed while here. This is particularly true of those who have either not been here before, or in a while. Many of those executives represent international companies.
They visited on serious business, and asked questions to figure out how their companies might fit, in a place that’s been so successful. They asked about our infrastructure and specifically, how we plan to keep up with all the growth. They asked about our costs, having already researched the region and noticed labor costs and housing costs creeping up. They asked about incentives, and whether our success and our great list of new and expanding companies diminishes our appetite to have the next company come here. They asked about our labor force, and whether or not there will be talent to fuel their short and long-term workforce needs. And, they are extremely keen to know whether Dallas is a place their current and future employees will move to. A central, recurring question is, “Can we find and attract talent”? Often, the entire purpose of a trip to Dallas by a corporate team revolves around the talent question.
They’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers. This region also has an incredible array of undeniable fundamentals, including our location, transportation assets, critical mass of great companies, and an overall positive business climate.
I expect 2017 to be another busy and strong year for corporate recruitment, and our work started right away. Our first corporate visit was slated for early January. This interest is from a Fortune Global 500 company that is considering Dallas-Fort Worth and three other U.S. locations for its U.S. headquarters.
We’re beginning the year with a great mix of projects. The 40 active projects we carry into the new year include 9 headquarters, 8 corporate offices, 12 manufacturing deals (6 of which are food- and beverage-related), 5 information technology projects, 3 distribution centers, and 3 other deals. And the potential relocations within those clusters vary in size, geographic origin, where the projects are looking within our region, and in the variety of international companies. It’s as well-mixed a group of projects as I’ve seen during my 12 years at the Chamber. That terrific variety is a strong indicator of our future economic development success, if we keep working hard as a region, pushing to keep Texas wide open for business.