A major step forward for Dallas’ economic development efforts

Also coming up: An item that will improve public safety in Dallas.

The following was adapted from my email newsletter.

This week, the Dallas City Council is scheduled to vote on a major initiative that will change the economic development landscape here for years to come.

The new Economic Development Corporation (commonly known as an EDC) is the centerpiece of the city’s new comprehensive economic development policy. The EDC will help give the city — not the region — its own marketing arm for economic development and can help oversee future projects. This semi-independent entity will be governed by its own board — board members would be nominated by a committee (which includes the mayor and city manager) and confirmed by the Dallas City Council — and will have its own staff outside of Dallas City Hall.

This entity is key to the city’s economic development efforts going forward. That’s why, in the State of the City address in November, I called for the City Council “to move thoughtfully, but swiftly, to create an economic development corporation that serves the City of Dallas and encourages growth in southern Dallas.”

The vote comes at a critical time for economic development in the city. Dallas is competing with its fast-growing suburbs and other major American cities. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge businesses of all sizes. The city’s permitting office needs reform. The new International District in North Dallas is at its dawn. A redo of the convention center could reshape downtown, bringing economic vibrancy to an area that has long been a dead zone in the urban core. The city manager will be looking for a new economic development chief (and hopefully will conduct a thorough national search for experienced candidates with track records of success in other major cities).

And on Monday, I will be naming the new workforce development czar to help coordinate upskilling efforts in Dallas, particularly for underserved communities.

In other words, the city must tap into its immense potential and address significant problems in the years ahead. But voting next week to create this economic development corporation will be a huge step in the right direction.

Fighting crime

Later this month, I am placing another major item on the agenda that can help make Dallas safer. Click here to read WFAA’s story.

The item for the Jan. 26 agenda would require Sexually Oriented Businesses (SOBs) to close between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. each day in the interest of public safety.

Police Chief Eddie Garcia and his team recommended this change after analyzing the crime data and finding a high rate of incidences of violence at and around SOBs after 2 a.m. This change will also put Dallas in line with other major cities.

This is a clear plan to address violent crime where it occurs. It is a data-driven decision. And it is a solution that would alleviate the burdens on the police department by eliminating the need for a police response.

In other words, this is all about public safety. This amendment to the Dallas City Code is a key part of the police department’s violent crime reduction plan going forward. Dallas saw violent crime reductions last year — bucking the national trends — but must continue to put public safety first to further reduce violence and make the city safer.

Omicron’s spread

Finally, it’s time to talk COVID-19 again.

Omicron seems to loom over everything these days. The city’s recycling pickup might even take a little longer this month because of all the sanitation workers sidelined by the virus.

Reported cases are reaching record highs. No doubt you know someone who has had it, or maybe you’ve had it yourself. Maybe you even have it right now and are reading this email while in quarantine.

These are tough times, and the demands on medical personnel are increasing. If you need a test, check out this list of options in Dallas County. If you need a vaccine, just search for your local pharmacy. They’re widely available. Remember that all adults are eligible for booster shots, and they’re very easy to get. The data clearly shows that even with Omicron, these vaccinations and boosters help you stay out of the hospital and allow you to live your life with confidence.

Don’t wait to take precautions. This wave, too, shall pass, but it’s important to do what you can to keep yourself, your friends, your family, and your community as safe as possible against this highly transmissible variant.

That’s all for today. Wishing you good health to start 2022.

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News, speeches, statements, and other information from the Office of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson

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