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Shaping The Region's Economic Future: Transformative Ideas From The 2024 Collin County Business Alliance State Of The Business Luncheon

Key Takeaways & Retrospective Insights For The Collin County Community

The 2024 Collin County Business Alliance (CCBA) State of the Business luncheon, held on May 21, 2024, brought together industry leaders, policymakers and community stakeholders to discuss regional economic development and collaboration strategies.

Scott Flannery, CEO of UnitedHealthcare and CCBA board member, kicked off the event, which served as a platform to showcase Collin County's strengths, address challenges and explore growth opportunities.

Key takeaways and themes from the conference shed light on the initiatives driving economic prosperity in Collin County and provided retrospective insights for its dynamic community.

Empowering Civic Engagement

Scott Flannery's message to the attendants underscored the importance of civic engagement in fostering a vibrant community. One example is the Collin County Votes initiative, a collaborative effort between the CCBA and local chambers of commerce to increase voter awareness and engagement. 

This initiative has been essential in boosting voter turnout in primary and local elections by providing critical information on voter registration and election processes. Turnout is still low while voter registration continues to grow. The 2023 local election cycle saw over a 10% drop in turnout compared to the previous cycle in 2021.

Harnessing Regional Strengths

Collin County's business-friendly environment, low cost of living, excellent transportation network and highly educated workforce are key factors that drive its attractiveness to businesses. That's according to Leanne Libby, publisher of Community Impact DFW, who was a panel discussion moderator during the luncheon. She added that with major corporations like American Airlines, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and over 20 Fortune 500 companies, Collin County has established itself as an innovation hub, fostering a vibrant quality of life.

Economic Success Stories In The Region

From being coined a bedroom community to now a global business hub, Plano's remarkable evolution couldn't have occurred without Harry LaRosiliere, Plano's Former Mayor, who was also a member of the luncheon's panel discussion. Under his leadership, Plano prioritized excellent city services, top-tier schools and a business-friendly environment, attracting large corporations like Toyota, FedEx and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The strategic partnerships and robust economic development initiatives implemented during LaRosiliere's tenure have contributed to significant job creation and economic growth in the city. By leveraging economic development funds and fostering solid relationships with the community, cities like Plano have attracted quality companies and supported major projects.

When looking at the county seat of Collin County, Michael Kowski, CEO of the McKinney Economic Development Corporation, mentioned on the panel the achievements McKinney has made to improve economic development, notably how the new 20,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, which is currently under construction, will generate an estimated $6 billion in economic impact over the next 20+ years.

McKinney's investments in downtown's revitalization and infrastructure projects underscore its transition into a hub for significant developments. It emphasizes the importance of internal and regional collaboration in fostering economic growth across North Texas.

Collin County has become an attractive destination for relocating businesses due to its favorable business climate, lower taxes, access to skilled labor and excellent schools. That's according to Kim Butler, executive vice president at HALL Group. On the panel, she also mentioned how affordable housing and walkable spaces support incoming businesses and promote collaboration and social functions.

Urban Redevelopment And Adaptive Reuse

The significance of urban redevelopment and adaptive reuse in creating vibrant, modern city spaces was a key takeaway point given by panel member John Hardaway, a partner at Triten Real Estate Partners. By repurposing existing structures and revitalizing metropolitan areas, cities like Plano have attracted office employees and created engaging environments that blend old and new elements. It underscores the importance of innovative urban planning strategies in meeting the evolving needs of businesses and residents.

Hardaway said Triten's approach as a facilitator in identifying unmet demands and engaging

with communities, tenants and employers have created vibrant, multi-use projects. He added that those partnerships have driven economic growth and development by aligning visions between developers and local governments.

A Broader Perspective On Texas's Economic Landscape

Nic Garcia, regional editor for the Texas Tribune, and Aaron Demerson, president and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corporation, provided a broader perspective on Texas's economic landscape. The insights they shared captured Texas's economic vitality, showcasing Collin County's growth and the state's appeal to businesses and individuals.

Garcia and Demerson added that public-private collaboration drives economic success, with initiatives addressing workforce development and infrastructure gaps. Furthermore, Texas's economic strength as a global leader comes from a focus on sustaining growth and competitiveness through partnerships and forward-thinking approaches.

Challenges And Opportunities Facing Collin County And The Whole Of Texas

This year's CCBA event highlighted the challenges and opportunities facing Collin County and the whole of Texas. Concerns about infrastructure, workforce development and water scarcity were key focus points. Still, the overall sentiment was optimism and confidence in the region's ability to overcome these challenges through collaboration and strategic planning. 

By leveraging its strengths and fostering partnerships, Collin County is well-positioned to drive continued economic prosperity and growth in the years to come. As a leader in the community space, the CCBA continues to work with stakeholders towards common goals, ensuring the future looks bright for Collin County's residents and their overall quality of life.