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North Texas mayors address Tech Titans board

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December 01, 2015
Johnson, Larosiliere, MasoAs part of the November meeting, the Tech Titans board heard from the leaders of three tech heavy cities in North Texas: Frisco, Plano and Richardson.

“Mayor LaRosiliere, Mayor Maso and City Manager Johnson lead by example in demonstrating how cities can work cooperatively with businesses in their area to achieve results,” said Tech Titans Chairman of the Board, Kent Novak. “Plano, Frisco and Richardson provide an environment that enables our local industry to grow and is attracting new companies to the area.”

Dan Johnson, the city manager of Richardson (who attended as Mayor Paul Voelker was out of town), spoke about the long tech heritage of the city, including Rockwell Collins and Texas Instruments, which led to the establishment of UT Dallas. Richardson sports a tech-heavy workforce with Campbell and US75 being one of the heavy centers for white collar workers in North Texas. The city is working through transportation challenges with recent and coming growth, with making the region attractive to millenials, and encouraging economic gardening and development. With its robust, tech savvy ecosystem, the city is working on a collaborative effort to develop an ultra high-speed network with US Ignite smart gigabyte research labs.

Mayor Maher Maso noted that Frisco was the fastest growing city in US in last census. Since it’s a young city, education is a key component and they’ve build a world-class career center to serve their students. As part of its building infrastructure, they’ve designed their own monitoring system that is in use in their schools and city. As for a smart cities investment, it’s easier with a newer city, but harder in an older city to deploy the censors where the buildings and infrastructure has already been built out. Healthcare is its largest growth sector, and North Texas Enterprise Center fuels growth.

Plano’s Mayor Harry Larosiliere noted that the 1980s was Plano 1.0 as a bedroom community but became one of the fastest growing cities in 90s and 00s. Plano 3.0 is a diverse city, educational, and recreational. It’s a smart city that invests in human capital. The elements they emphasize to prospective companies is that Plano is safe, has great schools, is pro business, and houses a robust infrastructure. While Johnson emphasized Richardson’s center, Larosiliere tongue and cheek emphasized that the intersection of Legacy & Headquarters is the center of the universe.

One of the questions the mayors entertained from the audience was how to attract tech companies and tech investments to North Texas.
Mayor Larosiliere said “We need to tell the North Texas story in an effective way. There’s perception and reality. Plano. The dollars are going to go to where they think they’re going to get the best return on investment. If they think there’s a strong talent pool, they’re going to come here. In Plano, we’ve been perfecting that one-voice message.”
The mayors agreed that what brings companies to North Texas is less about lower taxes and more about our educated workforce. Another factor is in diversity. For example, in Plano, 25% of citizens were born outside of the US, and only 53% are Caucasian.

One concern that all the mayors shared was the future of education in Texas, and urged businesses to get involved in their local schools.
Amy Alexander, Director, Marketing and Communications
amy@techtitans.org, (972) 792-2862