DRC set to drive civic engagement in the Dallas Region

By Matt Garcia, Senior Vice President of Public Policy

The Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) officially launched its 2024-2026 strategic plan, “Building Tomorrow Together,” in January. Our senior leaders penned blogs about each of the four focus areas of the new plan, the track record of success they are building on, and what they will focus on in 2024.

Matt Garcia, Senior Vice President of Public Policy

For the past several years, Texas, and particularly the Dallas Region, has enjoyed a level of growth and prosperity not seen in many other parts of the country. Our state’s business-friendly climate and the region’s diverse industries can take much of the credit for this—but it takes work to make sure companies and people alike have what they need to thrive now and into the future. That’s what the DRC’s Public Policy team works toward each day.

Our focus on Public Policy under the DRC’s 2024-2026 strategic plan fortifies our commitment to advocating for policies and outcomes that preserve Texas’ economic advantage and support a prosperous life for Texans.

We came into 2024 with some important wins under our belt that set us—with our members, partners, and elected officials at all levels of government—up to keep building for a bright future for us all.

The regular session of the 88th Texas Legislature saw 32 DRC priority bills passed, many of them detailed in the DRC’s Legislative Index. Importantly, the DRC successfully helped pass a critically needed, new, transparent, and accountable statewide economic development incentive program to help attract more companies and jobs to the Dallas Region.

Lawmakers utilized the state’s historic budget surplus to pass several pieces of legislation to make investments in our state’s future, putting the final decision for these investments in the hands of voters with November’s constitutional amendment election. The DRC launched the Good for Texans campaign to help pass eight important propositions—and they did. Together, these propositions enhance our quality of life, grow our economy, improve our infrastructure, and lower our property taxes.

We also advocated for $20 million for a new Regional Law Enforcement Training Center on the campus of UNT Dallas and additional funding for the behavioral health hospital operated by UT Southwestern. Each of these measures provides critical support to the health and safety of our region.

The list of wins and impacts goes on—because the DRC knows we can’t sit on the sidelines when it comes to public policy. We tracked each of the 246 days spent in the legislative session in 2023 to make sure nothing went unnoticed, and we engaged the business community every step of the way through sold-out events, including one with Gov. Greg Abbott, and our largest-ever Austin Fly-In.

Legislators want to hear from companies about the impact of their work. Our legislative wins were direct results of that engagement by our members, who are our best advocates.

Our work, with support from our members, has helped us build credibility in the public policy sphere, which positions us to keep making good progress under the new strategic plan.

In 2024, we’ll relaunch our Infrastructure Task Force to continue to promote investments in infrastructure. This is a direct result of feedback we heard from our members during our weekly calls throughout the legislative session in 2023.

Through the task force, we’ll be working beyond the traditional roads and bridges to various needs to support our state’s continued growth, such as water and broadband. We also know that technology policy is exploding because of new industries like artificial intelligence, the need for more data centers and increased energy capacity which we will be proactive and influence throughout the next several years.

In 2024, we’ll maintain and intensify our focus on civic engagement with a new iteration of our Voter Engagement Toolkit, which helps people get informed and engaged through an unbiased education on the voting process.

Additionally, we’ll be working on a new initiative that encourages individuals from the Dallas Region to represent and serve on boards and commissions throughout the State of Texas to voice the concerns of the Dallas Region. Until now, there has been no strategic effort to involve more people from our region in this way statewide.

Dallas is the fastest-growing region in Texas, and we are doing our part to make sure that the economic environment stays consistent and attractive to the business community. We are thinking strategically about our future and preparing for the continued growth of the region to support prosperity for all Texans.