DRC Board of Advisors Meeting: Access to Tech Talent, Quality of Life are DFW Advantages

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

Where do corporate relocations come from?

That was the question Mike Rosa, Senior Vice President of Economic Development at the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC), posed to two Fortune 500 company executives who gathered for the DRC’s Board of Advisors event on Feb. 18.

Those executives — Jacobs Engineering Group’s Bob Pragada and McKesson’s Brian Tyler — shared overlapping stories of what led their firms to the Dallas Region. The panel met at the Old Parkland Hospital Debate Hall.

“In 2016, we were redefining the company and going through a bit of a cultural transformation,” Pragada recalled of Jacob’s California roots. “We felt like we needed to not only capitalize on the benefits (of moving to DFW) but use the move to recharge the cultural transformation we were going through.”

Pragada said Jacobs’ leadership and employees were distributed toward the West and East coasts of the U.S. The short list for a new hub included Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. The choice of Dallas has resulted in improved recruitment for Jacobs.

Tyler, who has been with McKesson for a quarter century, said the company entertained moving from its Bay Area location every five years or so. However, like Jacobs, McKesson was undergoing a cultural shift — in the form of a leadership change. Tyler — who had become CEO of McKesson — also said his organization’s leadership was distributed across the U.S., and he thought operations would improve if management consolidated to a single geographic point.

“The question was, were we going to do it in San Francisco, where it’s hard to attract people?” he said. “Where people are commuting 90 minutes to work because they can’t afford to live in the city?”

Dallas-Fort Worth became the obvious choice as an HQ because McKesson had large back-office operations in the region already, and it had real-world examples of the region’s affordability, availability of a talented workforce, and quality of life, he said.

“The thing I ask myself often is, why did we didn’t do it (relocate) sooner,” Tyler said.

The CEO of another Dallas-based Fortune 500, CBRE’s Bob Sulentic, cited the region’s talent pool as a distinct advantage for DFW.

“There is an abundance of technology talent here,” Sulentic said. “We have several hundred technology workers here. It’s not as obvious on the surface, as people might think. And there’s a lot of financial talent here, as well.”

During the discussion with the executives, Rosa cited a statistic: DFW has more than 274,000 tech workers. That’s more than double that of Austin.

Quality local universities are also key in providing the talented workforce CBRE and other companies need, Sulentic said.

The region is also an easy place to live in for families.

“There’s a good attitude toward work in the region,” Sulentic said. “That’s a big plus for DFW.”

The Board of Advisors meeting was presented by The Beck Group. The corporate sponsor was McKesson.