Tyler Economic Development

By Melonee Hurt on March 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm EST
Brannon Corp. in Tyler, TX

PHOTO CREDIT: Antony Boshier

Tyler, Texas has concocted the perfect recipe for the ultimate business climate. This quiet, yet booming, community between Dallas and Shreveport has had equal parts low unemployment, interstate access, Internet services, low costs of living and a solid existing business base.

Mix those with an active economic development council that works on behalf of businesses looking to establish roots or relocate to Tyler, a chamber of commerce that bolsters existing business and recruits new business from Mexico, and a regional airport with multiple daily flights to neighboring cities and one would be hard-pressed to find a reason not to set up shop in Tyler.

Size Matters

Tom Mullins, president and CEO of the Tyler Economic Development Council, says the city’s size is probably one of Tyler’s biggest selling points. With a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) of about 220,000, the area is big enough, but not too big.

“It’s just a nice sized city,” Mullins says. “We have a lot of variety. The cost of living is lower than the national average, we have a four-seasons climate and we have some older, beautifully kept neighborhoods. Tyler has a southern charm to it and people are attracted to that.”

Rea Boudreaux, an engineer with Brannon Corp., was born and raised in Tyler and says it’s a great place to do business because it’s such a great place to live.

“My company does business all over the U.S., so we could live anywhere,” he says. “But we want to be in Tyler because that’s where we want to live. I don’t want to deal with cold, hurricanes or earthquakes. Here, I like the school systems and the property tax is low. The city feels like a small city, but has advantages of living in Houston or Dallas – without the daily commutes.”

Follow the Leaders

A number of large companies including Target Corp., and Brookshire Grocery Company have brought regional distribution hubs to the area, employing thousands of locals.

Price Arredondo, director of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hispanic Business Service Office, says his group also actively recruits new business from Mexico.

“We have seen a lot of influx of investment and individuals who want to expand their business to Texas or purchase a business here,” he says. “We established a Sister Cities program and work with the governor’s office in Mexico City."

Mullins says the area is supported by a strong regional economy that includes a plentiful higher education sector and a medical sector. It is becoming known as a technology center, with companies like Suddenlink, an Internet service provider that employs more than 1,200 people.

Extra Incentives Can’t Hurt

Over the last 20 years, TEDC has worked on 67 projects that helped retain or expand primary jobs and/or investment in Tyler and Smith counties. These projects have created 4,232 new jobs, retained 9,770 jobs and created $388 million in new investment.

By creating incentives such as tax abatements, low-interest loans and land incentives, TEDC is able to sweeten Tyler as a top-tier place to do business for new businesses and keep it sweet for established ones. Swann’s Furniture, for example, has been doing business in Tyler since 1895. The family business has outgrown spaces and relocated within Tyler multiple times, leaving the downtown area only because it lacked warehousing space.

Another company deeply rooted in Tyler is John Soules Foods, a nationally recognized food processing and marketing company that opened here in 1975 in a 2,000-square-foot facility. Today, the company has expanded to 250,000 square feet.

Mullins says many states offer either a high cost of doing business with some added incentives and others may have a lower cost of business with no incentives.

“In Texas we do both, and it has worked to our advantage,” he says. “We also have one of the lowest city tax rates in our population for the entire state. Tyler has been investing millions every year in upgrading infrastructure – and it shows."

Read about more smart businesses in Tyler, TX.

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