Transportation infrastructure and a ready talent pool make the Best Southwest Partnership region one of the hottest spots for business in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Comprising 12 communities spanning Dallas and Ellis counties, the Best Southwest Partnership region attracts relocating and expanding businesses with a steady supply of skilled workers, an accessible transportation infrastructure and a desirable quality of life.
The region’s central location – which sits at the intersection of three interstate highways, a major U.S. highway and two rail lines – attracts companies that need to move products quickly to other parts of the country.
The southern Dallas transportation corridor, of which the Best Southwest Partnership region is a part, provides easy access to Interstate 20, which connects Texas to the southern half of the country; I-35, which connects the state to the Midwest and runs from the Mexico border to Canada; and I-45, which leads to Gulf of Mexico ports.
The proximity to the 360-acre Dallas Intermodal Terminal in Wilmer also gives the region a logistics advantage. The region’s transportation infrastructure is a major incentive for companies such as Proctor & Gamble, which is building a 1.4 million-square-foot facility in Wilmer; Quaker Oats, which opened a 1.2 million-square-foot facility in Lancaster in 2014; and MOBIS, a Kia/Hyundai car parts distributor that acquired a 442,000-square-foot facility in Lancaster in 2012.
“That’s why you have the big guys coming here,” says Joe Johnson, executive director of the Best Southwest Partnership regional economic development organization. “The proximity to the intermodal facility is a major asset. If you only have to haul your products 5 miles from the warehouse to the intermodal facility versus 100 miles, that’s a big advantage.”
A Smart Start
An educated and highly skilled workforce plays a major role in the region’s economic development success. One of seven community colleges in Dallas County, Cedar Valley College in Lancaster offers a variety of workforce training and professional development courses in applied technologies, health care, and transportation and logistics. The college’s certificate and degree programs run the gamut from anthropology to veterinary technology, and its Small Business Development Center provides free training and counseling for entrepreneurs.
Johnson says the region’s public schools are leading the effort to build a pipeline of talent for the growing roster of relocating and expanding companies. In 2013, the Lancaster Independent School District received a grant from Dallas-based Texas Instruments to introduce a STEM curriculum in all its schools, K-12. Students at the Cedar Hill ISD Collegiate High School can earn college credits toward an associate or bachelor’s degree through a partnership with Cedar Valley College. Johnson says the DeSoto ISD plans to follow suit.
“Our education system is highly attractive to corporations looking to locate to this region,” says Lancaster City Manager Opal Mauldin-Robertson. “Not only can we offer a great primary and secondary education for the families of their employees, but we also offer a community college and university system which have workforce development components built in.”
To show its commitment to widening the pipeline of talent, the Best Southwest Partnership awards a $500 scholarship to one graduating senior from each of the 12 communities represented by the partnership.
The Livability Quotient
Studies show quality of life ranks high among the factors impacting relocation and expansion decisions, and quality health care tops the list of the Best Southwest Partnership region’s amenities.
Methodist Charlton Medical Center recently completed a $143.5 million expansion to add more patient rooms, seven new operating rooms and an orthopedic unit.
The Best Southwest Partnership understands that a healthy workforce is just as essential for business success as an educated workforce. The organization’s Health Care Committee holds health and wellness workshops in Cedar Hill – and plans to extend the program to the other communities in the region – and gives tips on fitness and nutrition. Each year, the partnership hosts a health-care luncheon and brings in medical experts and professionals to discuss health-care issues affecting businesses and residents.
“We believe that all of our core initiatives go to create a quality of life that attracts new business and new industry,” Johnson says. “The best part is we’re only 15 minutes from downtown Dallas, from where the Texas Rangers play and from where the Cowboys play, yet we’re still in this beautiful, scenic area.”