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Dallas council member says new economic development corporation will attract business to city

Atkins says the corporation will allow them to move faster in business recruitment because it will require less red tape and bureaucracy than a city department.
Credit: WFAA
Dallas city council member Tennell Atkins

DALLAS — The City of Dallas is trying to think differently when it comes to recruiting business. After all, the competition with its surrounding cities has ramped up over the last several years.  

As part of its response, Dallas is launching an Economic Development Corporation, not to be confused with the Economic Development Department that already exists.

City council member Tennell Atkins says you can’t have too many tools in the toolbox when it comes to attracting business.

“This tool was specialized to make corporation pinpoint to Dallas. Not the region. We’ve got to think about Dallas. We’ve got to look at how do we develop Dallas,” the District 8 council member said on Inside Texas Politics.

The Dallas city council is still in the process of launching the corporation. They hope to name a board of directors in early 2022 and begin the hiring process for an executive director in spring of next year.

Atkins says the corporation will allow them to move faster in business recruitment because it will require less red tape and bureaucracy than a city department. And that says a lot, since he chairs the city’s Economic Development Committee.  

Atkins says many other cities are already doing the same thing. But he thinks Dallas can do it better because it has so much more to offer including two airports, a central location in the country and the fact people are moving to North Texas in droves.

Dallas has lost out on some big business in recent years, including Amazon’s HQ2.  And other negative developments, such as Uber scaling back massive plans to expand in Dallas, have also hurt the city.

Council member Atkins says major improvements to Dallas ISD will help, as will infrastructure improvements once federal dollars start pouring into the city. The city is also trying to enhance its job training program. Atkins says the Economic Development Corporation will help streamline the entire process. 

“We’ll be able to buy land, hold land, to be able to deal directly with corporations faster than the city of Dallas. But it’s still going to have oversight of the City Council,” he said.

And the fact that Dallas is bucking a national trend when it comes to violent crime can only help, as well. 

Violent crime is down 8.5% this year in Dallas, according to police statistics. Atkins, who serves on the Public Safety Committee and heard those statistics, credits this to the fact police are on the street more and the department is no longer working in isolation, instead collaborating with other stakeholders in the city to find improvement.

“I think they’re working with code. They’re working with the homeless department. I think all departments working together, the NPO, neighborhood police officer, working together. I think it’s the businesses working together,” Atkins said.

Council Member Tennell Atkins: City Council District 8 (dallascityhall.com)

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