Dallas Innovates 2020 Thought Leaders: Allen Economic Development Corporation

Q+A | Musings on innovation from the region's paradigm-shifting companies and organizations.

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The Allen Economic Development Corporation is charged with facilitating company relocations and assisting the expansion of existing businesses, which creates jobs and generates additional tax revenue for the community.

Tell us about the Allen Economic Development Corporation.

The Allen Economic Development Corporation is charged with recruiting and retaining quality businesses that increase the ad valorem tax base and bring quality jobs to the City. Businesses in Allen enjoy a supportive, service-based EDC committed to ensuring their continued growth and success, whether that comes from a simple introduction to other community members or fulfilling research needs.

Innovation comes in many forms—from finished products and processes, to implementation and idea generation. How would you define your company’s innovations?

Before 2018, Allen lacked any true Class-A office buildings and was missing out on the many office projects in the region. Despite its highway access, highly educated workforce, amenity-rich Watters Creek lifestyle center, infrastructure and developable sites, the real estate community did not believe Allen was a Class-A office market.
To overcome this perception and to compete for deals, Allen needed a Class-A office building. However, office developers were unable to secure financing to construct the building speculatively without it being 50% pre-leased. To solve this conundrum, the AEDC created a “revolving fund” incentive that helped bridge the gap between financing the office building and securing the office tenant.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive. Since 2018, there has been over $260 million in capital investment in Allen, including three Class-A office buildings totaling 470,000 square feet, a large convention center/hotel and relocations of cybersecurity firm NETSCOUT and Credit Union of Texas.

[Image: Courtesy Allen Economic Development Corporation]

How does the region’s access to resources, such as higher education and/or access to capital, impact your ability to compete?

With its central location and many global headquarters, DFW reaps the benefits from world trade and investment.  Strong job growth attracts new residents, expanding our labor force and fueling housing construction. The region is also a major banking center. Investment is attracted by our population growth and diverse economy, making capital plentiful. 

Higher education provides a pipeline of talent and research for growing, innovative companies. These factors, combined with excellent infrastructure and a pro-business climate, provide companies with the necessary tools to compete worldwide. 

Many CEOs seek a work/live/play environment for their employees to attract top talent. How does Allen’s master plan fit into this strategy?

Allen’s philosophy is that work and live/play are one in the same. Great places to live also make for great places to work. Allen has been intentional in building a quality of life for its citizens which also benefits employers competing for talent. These efforts have led to Allen being recognized as the #2 Best Place to Live in the Nation and #2 Best Place to Launch a Career by MONEY Magazine.

What are some innovations coming from Allen companies?

At Kone’s North American R&D center, engineers develop and test the next generation of smart elevators. Video game makers Boss Fight and Bonus XP create the hit mobile games Dungeon Boss and Stranger Things: The Game. WatchGuard designs and creates in-car and body-worn camera systems for police worldwide.  Cytracom makes it easy for small businesses to set up mobile/desk phone systems right from the box. Startup Akash Systems is designing satellite communication systems for Google to supplement bandwidth and provide internet access to remote locations.

A version of this Thought Leaders article was first published in Dallas Innovates 2020: The Magazine.

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It’s a moment for innovation in Dallas-Fort Worth, one that we’ve been working toward for a long time. In Dallas Innovates 2020: The Magazine, we explore the people and companies you need to know in Dallas-Fort Worth. From first-time startups to innovation icons, these are the people and companies driving the future forward.

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