In July, we invited executives of a large California-based company we’ve visited multiple times to join us in Oxnard as a VIP guest at Dallas Cowboys training camp. They could not attend camp, but confidentially informed us they plan to make a move to the Dallas region. Hopefully, they’ll make an announcement soon. After learning this great news, my thoughts and conversation with staff turned to “we’ve been working with them for quite a while” as part of our corporate targeting and marketing efforts. I thought it had been two years: We checked, and it turns out it was twice that. We first requested to visit and met their CFO on a marketing trip in 2014. Long lead times in economic development and real estate are nothing new, and this example is a good reminder for our team that consistent marketing and staying in front of good opportunities pays off.
We left the 2014 meeting thinking this company is an excellent prospect. Its situation and characteristics matched well with what the Dallas region offers as a corporate location, and we resolved to keep in touch on subsequent trips—even though they confessed it would be a while before a move was possible. So, we showed up from time to time at their California home.
When making return visits or calls with executives we’ve met once, twice, or more, sharing new information is important, and one of our favorite tactics. We’ve previously shared all the basics: We’ve conveyed and reinforced the primary reasons a particular company fits best in our region, so what’s left to talk about? Plenty. Our last marketing trip was the week of Aug. 12 in California and included companies we’ve met before. Here’s a sampling of our favorite “hot-off-the-press” updates:
- Dallas-Fort Worth increased the number of technology degree graduates by 81 percent—5,700 annually—in the last five years. It’s the fastest growth of all technology talent markets in the U.S. Our region also has the largest tech labor force in the South—the fifth largest in North America at 160,800—while being the most affordable large market in the nation, all according to a report from CBRE that compares markets on the basis of technology talent.
- The University of Texas at Dallas announced in July that it has qualified for the State of Texas’ “Tier One” fund, having achieved the critical benchmark criteria required to qualify for funding from the National Research University Fund, an exclusive source of research support available to Texas’ “emerging research universities.”
- Dallas Fort Worth International Airport has received $180 million in federal funds toward a $278 million taxiway expansion to help cut down on runway crossings, and get passengers to-and-from gates faster. The airport plans to build a pair of taxiways to divert planes around, instead of across, runways.
- It’s been a year since Toyota unveiled its new North American headquarters in Plano—a 100-acre corporate campus. Far above initial estimates, about 70 percent of 4,000 employees formerly in California, Kentucky, and New York decided to make the move here.
- The Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced that acclaimed Italian conductor Fabio Luisi will be its next music director. Luisi said the quality and spirit of the orchestra are way beyond his expectations.
- Area public schools are constantly improving. The Dallas Independent School District now outperforms state averages in 11 of 12 academic categories. Twenty-five percent of Dallas public school freshmen and sophomores are enrolled in early college classes. In the last year, 40 schools were upgraded and are no longer on the “improvement required” list. Companies engage the region’s public schools: 30 percent of all P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) schools in the U.S. are in the Dallas region. Texas Instruments just awarded the Richardson Independent School District a $4.6 million grant to create a “STEM for All” program impacting 10,000 students.
- Texas claimed the top spot in CNBC’s 2018 Top States for Business rankings, and added more than 350,000 jobs in one year. Dallas-Fort Worth is fueling this growth in Texas and has added more than 1 million people and more than 120 company headquarters since 2010.
There are many more. We’ll only have 30 minutes or, if we’re lucky, an hour to meet with company leaders. Much of that time, we’ll dedicate to receiving an update on the company and its plans, so the balance must be used effectively to advance our cause. If it’s a return visit—though always ready to reprise our overall pitch—we’ve learned that it’s new information, fresh data, and deal points that keeps their focus sharp on our region and makes it worthwhile for them to meet us again. And when they do, they’ll know we’re with them for the long haul.