Code Talkers

WHEN IT COMES TO RELOCATION RECRUITING, THE DRC GETS CREATIVE



What do a dragonfly, a kangaroo, or a jaguar have to do with the Dallas Regional Chamber? Why and how is the DRC economic development team communicating with Beethoven, Columbus, Roosevelt, and Geronimo? Why would the DRC be looking through a lens at Saturn, the Moon, or a Martian? Why are we trying to bring both heat and a blizzard to Dallas at the same time? All are code names attached to companies that the DRC is engaged with and that are considering the Dallas region for new or expanding corporate locations. Most of the projects the Chamber has been involved in recruiting in recent years had code names, including the headquarters for Toyota (One), Kubota (Ranger), Hilti (2020), and Active Network (Blue Amber). With rare exceptions, companies or those advising companies such as site location consultants or tenant representation brokers, will use code names to preserve the confidential- ity of the company considering a move. Code names allow a company to keep its intentions quiet so as not to alarm employees, inform competitors, or invite the hundreds or possibly thousands of soliciting calls and emails it might get from communities, states, brokers, and others with an interest in the company’s search. Normally, projects don’t come with or get a code name un- til the level of activity or seriousness of intent warrants one. The DRC is working a very strong list of projects that we would love to recruit here. At the moment, we have 22 projects we consider active and that are code-named. It’s also not unusual for a project to have multiple code names during the process. Often this is done to better disguise the identity of the company or because of the multiple groups that may be involved in the project. Of the 22 projects on our most active list, six have multiple names. Sometimes the DRC team generates the name, and we have internal competitions to see how clever we can be. Normally there is some aspect of the code name that relates to the actual company to help us with recall, without making it obvious, of course. It’s fun and just part of corporate recruiting to generate and to use code names, but it’s all serious business when working with these companies to encourage and win a move for our region. Our overall list of corporate targets and those that have made inquiries or that we have pitched on marketing trips is much larger than 22—it’s in the hundreds. Our goal is to carry as many as we can along the continuum of being receptive to our outreach, to tire kicking, to some level of formal investigation, all the way to visiting and making a decision. Those in the latter stages are the ones I’ll draw from to provide a snapshot of the types of projects we’re working with right now. Headquarters projects remain a staple of our activity. Our region’s assets match very well with the requirements of a corporate headquar- ters location search. It’s a strategic goal of ours to leverage this region’s assets and bring more corporate headquarters here—a goal that we carry forward from our 2010 to 2015 “Blueprint For Prosperity” strategic plan to our 2016-2020 “Building Tomorrow Together” strategic plan. Headquarters bring high-paying jobs, often result in major capital investments, and elevate a city’s status while also contributing in a big way to things like air service development, local corporate giving, and local spending. Going forward, the DRC will add the emphasis of recruiting the U.S. and North American headquarters of international companies, in addition to attracting the headquarters of U.S. companies. Of our 22 most active projects, seven are headquarters. Five of those are Fortune-ranked headquarters. Fortune-ranked corporate head- quarters do not move very often; having five that are considering a move and including the Dallas region as an option is a strong number. Reinforcing that in our marketing to Fortune corporations coupled with the strong draw of the Dallas region is a powerful combination. Among our seven headquarters projects and including the five that are Fortune listed, three would best be described as service-providing corporations and three others as technology corporations. One of those technology corporate projects also happens to be for the U.S. headquarters of an international corporation. The seventh project is a major nonprofit organization. Three of the projects would create a thousand or more new jobs. Headquarters are not the only projects engaged by the DRC. There are 15 active projects that represent an array of facility and job types, including a few non-headquarters corporate office projects, an innovation center, a corporate training center, a food and beverage manufacturing project, and multiple information and technology centers. Over time, our active projects will migrate to conclusion and we'll elevate others from our target and inquiry lists to active project status. We always want a full pipeline and look forward to more great names—the real names—calling the Dallas region home.