A Discussion with Mayor Mike Rawlings
Discussion with Mayor Mike Rawlings
Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the United States, and is part of the fourth-largest and fastest-growing metro area in America. Crime is down, business is up and new hot spots are popping up all over town. If you ask Mayor Mike Rawlings, it’s a great time to live and work in Dallas.
Pearson Partners is pleased to have welcomed the mayor as the speaker at our recent Q1 2012 Spotlight Breakfast Series event, where he shared highlights of what’s happening around the city and answered some great questions from many of the local business leaders in the audience. Below we have summarized Mayor Rawlings’ update.
State of Dallas
Compared to the rest of the country, Dallas is blessed with a good economy and growing infrastructure, including several new additions such as the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge connecting East and West Dallas across the Trinity River; the upcoming Museum of Nature & Science; The Rory Meyer Children’s Adventure Garden set to open next year at the Dallas Arboretum; and the new City Performance Hall and deck plaza over Woodall Rodgers Freeway, both opening this fall to give Dallas the largest contiguous arts complex in the world.
Rawlings is working to build on the city’s forward momentum during this window of opportunity for positive change, focusing on two major areas: education and continuing growth.
Four out of 10 Dallas citizens are “asset-poor”: if they lost their jobs tomorrow, they would only have enough money to keep their families afloat for about three months. The biggest differentiator between these families and their more affluent counterparts is their level of education, so improving education is critical to the future success of our city.
Based on standardized test results, only 12 percent of Dallas high school graduates are ready for college. To help students do better, the mayor has created a program called Commit!, in conjunction with Goldman Sachs, to provide educational resources from infancy and pre-kindergarten all the way through college and on through their careers. The city has launched a network of college support for the Dallas Independent School District, working to link public schools with the many area colleges, from Southern Methodist University to The University of Texas at Dallas and our many award-winning community colleges.
On a personal level, Rawlings encourages parents to get involved with the public school system, give feedback to the school district and attend board of trustee meetings.
Finance, logistics, virtual retail, health care and technology are all going strong in our area, and Dallas is poised for strong international business growth. Dozens of international destinations have been and will be added to DFW Airport, including Dubai, Seoul, Australia and nonstop flights to Mumbai.
Southern Dallas represents an incredible area of opportunity for business investment, with 60 percent of the city’s land mass but just 15 percent of its tax base to date. Rawlings’ 10-part Grow South initiative aims to build billions of dollars in business value in the coming years, in part by rapidly helping to fund new businesses with private money. Banks, retail businesses and restaurants that have recently opened south of downtown are going strong, creating employment opportunities and building the area’s economy from within.
Citywide, the mayor’s focus is on encouraging growth in areas where there are people and transportation. By supporting business growth in focal points such as the Bishop Arts District, the city is planting the seeds that allow unique and interesting areas and neighborhoods to grow organically.
Rawlings suggests three ways that local business leaders can help Dallas grow:
- Take advantage of the Mayor’s Intern Fellows program to place a talented Dallas high school student in your organization this summer. Read more here.
- Learn about EducateDallas, the Dallas Regional Chamber’s political action committee, to make positive changes in DISD. To learn more, go to educatedallas.org.
- Support Dallas arts organizations, both personally and as a company.
Pearson Partners Spotlight Series Breakfast
Save the date for our next Spotlight SeriesSM breakfast event scheduled for June 5. Look for details and invitations in May. Did you miss one of our Spotlight Series events? Check out summaries of past events.