Connection Point: Regionalism Key to DFW’s Economic Development Success

Margaret Selid, Managing Director, Economic Development

If you’re a DFW resident, you’ve probably had the following conversation at least once:

                         “Where are you from?”


                         “What part?”

                         “Plano” (or Arlington or Richardson or Mesquite or Fort Worth or Denton…)

In other metros, the “what part?” question is typically answered with the name of a neighborhood. In “Dallas,” you first have to determine the city, and it could be one of several with a population of more than 100,000. Some states in the U.S. don’t have a single city with more than 100,000 people. The DFW Region has 14.

As economic developers, we recognize that folks who haven’t spent much time in the Dallas-Fort Worth area likely don’t grasp just how big and diverse we are. Those who know us fairly well may think we’re a handful of cities. Few realize that we are made up of more than 200 cities across 20 counties. It is our job at the Dallas Regional Chamber to help individuals and companies understand the scale of the region as well as its nuances.

Of the 200-plus cities in the region, about 130 have economic development offices of their own. We work with these economic development offices through the DFW Marketing Team — a group that we lead in partnership with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and Oncor. The team gets together a few times each year to market the region to companies and those who advise them on location decisions. So far this year, we’ve been to New York City, Atlanta, and Greenville, South Carolina, with the group. In the next few months, we’ll go to Chicago and Washington, D.C. to share the DFW message.

In addition to marketing activities, we also work closely with the cities — we call them our Allies — on active site selection projects. We did this in a very public way with Amazon HQ2, but that wasn’t our first rodeo. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t speak with at least a couple Allies about active projects. Most days it’s several. Some days they all hear from me.

While the economic development environment in Texas is set up in such a way that cities compete with one another for deals, DFW cities recognize when a company chooses one city, they’re choosing the whole region. When a company locates in Arlington or Forney or Frisco, they aren’t on an island. Their employees will live in Euless and Dallas and McKinney. Their service providers may be in Fort Worth or Rockwall or Grapevine. So, we work together, marketing the region as a whole, recognizing that we compete best nationally and internationally as the fourth largest metro in the U.S., with a potentially overwhelming number of viable location options for any company in any industry.

The majority of DRC members may be based in Dallas County, but when it comes to economic development, the Regional in our name is just as important as the Dallas.