Frisco Enterprise

Frisco tabbed fastest growing city for jobs

By Chris Roark

Frisco’s job base continues to grow, and a personal finance website indicates it’s growing better than any city in the country of its size.

WalletHub recently released a list of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., and while Frisco has dipped to No. 5 in that category it ranks No. 1 in job growth out of midsize cities (100,000 to 300,000 population).

WalletHub analyzed data going back, in most cases, to 2012. Key factors included job growth, increase in number of businesses and startups, and growth in number of technology companies.

“It’s very exciting,” said Ron Patterson, president of the Frisco Economic Development Corporation (EDC). “It’s always good when an outside, independent third party looks at you and sees substantial growth. When outside people tell the world your story on your behalf, that’s exceptional.”

Mayor Jeff Cheney said the recognition is a result of years of hard work.

“This really shows the progress we’ve made in our initiatives,” Cheney said. “A couple of years ago the City Council made it one of our top priorities to be aggressive in attracting jobs.”

Cheney said part of the change comes from a shift in focus. He said when he was first elected mayor he visited with developers and suite selectors to get their feedback on economic growth since there was a lingering frustration about losing deals to nearby areas.

“A common theme was surprising,” Cheney said. “There was a perception that Frisco only wanted sports and entertainment projects and that the city wasn’t serious about jobs. So we put our heads together so we could change that perception.”

Cheney said part of the efforts have included revamping the EDC behind the work of Patterson, who Cheney said has led the charge going after specific types of businesses.

“We rebuilt the EDC from the ground up,” Cheney said.

“It’s more of a decision for us to go back to our grass roots and focus on our core mission,” Patterson said. “The last year and a half has really been about taking all the good things we’ve gotten done over the years and focusing on that. So we’re focusing on our mission, which is to get businesses here and to grow our jobs.”

Patterson said that includes establishing and maintaining partnerships. He said Frisco has for a long time had a strong partnership with various entities in the community, including local businesses.

“We worked for a long time to create that environment,” Patterson said.

Cheney said recent big-name companies moving to Frisco, such as Keurig Dr Pepper, a Fortune 500 company, and multiple healthcare facilities opening in Frisco has only helped the city’s cause.

“There’s a buzz about what Frisco is doing for job attraction,” Cheney said.

Cheney said just as important as the companies it has attracted has been simply making an effort to get others, such as Amazon.

While the retail giant ultimately selected northern Virginia for its second headquarters, Cheney said making a pitch two years ago helped put Frisco in the spotlight.

“We were aggressive with our Amazon pitch,” Cheney said. “We were public about it, and it was intentional. We saw it as an opportunity to get out in front of it with the message of: we’re open for business.”

Cheney said future developments will only continue to help Frisco’s reputation, such as the PGA headquarters.

And there’s still room to grow, Cheney said. He said there’s still land large enough for an Amazon-type headquarters, as well as plenty of spec buildings and opportunities to build to suit.

Cheney said Frisco already has things in place that companies looking to relocate want – good school system, quality amenities and walkability.

“That’s why creating the 18-hour districts is important,” Cheney said.

He said higher education is something else big company executives want to see before relocating. And with the University of North Texas set to build a new campus in Frisco in the next couple of years, Cheney said that box will be checked, too. He said UNT plans to include curriculum to help prepare students for employment locally.

“Now when we talk with boards of directors it’s an easy story for us to sell,” Cheney said. “And it’s easy for boards to get on board with that.”

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