Tech workforce is Richardson’s strength, redevelopment its challenge-DBJ

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May 25, 2017
The following article appeared in the Dallas Business Journal here

Chamber President Bill Sproull shared with the Dallas Business Journal some of the benefits for companies in Richardson and what the Chamber is doing to help redevelop aging areas such as the East Arapaho Task force.

What’s Richardson’s biggest asset in terms of economic development? Workforce is definitely No. 1. Access to top technical and white-collar workers. That’s absolutely our biggest strength.

Many cities say their workforce is their top asset, but what differentiates Richardson's? When we do labor shed studies of the ability to recruit white-collar and technical workers within a 30-minute commute, we’ve got the best access to that labor pool of any location in the Metroplex. It’s the transportation network and where those employees live. Part of it is the legacy that we’ve had as the technology center in North Texas, and increasingly it’s places like UT Dallas in Richardson, which is pumping out talented workers. Part of it is our two excellent school systems — Plano and Richardson — and working with them on career and technology education programs and building that future pipeline. We’ve got great access to both incumbent workers as well as our future workforce.

And other strengths? We have a plentiful supply of commercial real estate. If you’re in the market today looking for a good chunk of Class A office space, we’ve got the inventory. When State Farm was building their campus in Richardson, they occupied over a million square feet temporarily. They’ve released that back into the market, so I’ve got a million square feet of office space to fill up. The third is our brand. It’s the history of the Telecom Corridor and being a technology community, and I think that’s known globally. In addition, we are blessed to be located on some major transportation networks between Interstate 635 and the Bush/190 tollway and with U.S. 75 running through the city and the DART Red Line and hopefully in the not-too-distant future, a Cotton Belt commuter line will connect us to DFW.

What’s Richardson’s biggest challenge? There’s a lot of competition out there, obviously, whether it’s from Plano or Frisco or Allen. Other cities have come on very strong. It makes us stronger as a region, but it also provides a lot more internal competition.

What additional challenges? The real challenge for Richardson is redevelopment. We’ve got an older southern part of the city that’s going through a lot of change. And we’ve got a 1,000-acre area that was all part of the Telecom Corridor that one time had vacancy of up to a third of all the commercial space left. That’s fortunately decreased to about 13 percent vacancy. But it’s going to need a lot of enhancements to keep it strong and particularly to have the amenities that modern workforces look for. That area is bounded by Campbell Road to the north, Apollo Road to the south, Plano Road on the east and Greenville Avenue on the west, close to 75. It would include the Arapaho DART station. There's 1,000 acres in that area. We’re actually going through a study on how to revitalize that area and looking at some pretty interesting concepts to do that.

More of the article can be read on the Dallas Business Journal website