North Texas continues to be on the socioeconomic forefront of metropolitan areas across
the country — and for good reason. Our region has continued to have a below average unemployment rate and strong economic fundamentals when compared to other areas of the country. Most significantly, these measures are occurring despite a less than ideal economic climate and a population that is growing at rates higher than the national average.
I believe the ability of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to outperform many other major metropolitan areas is strongly connected to innovative thinking that enables us to continue creating and capitalizing on opportunities that help North Texas prosper. Individual communities and the region as a whole continue to set the bar higher, empowering superior performance in both the public and private sectors.
With approximately 250 public entities dedicated to supporting North Texas’ growing population, our region has a vast infrastructure in place to serve individual and business residents. Yet, while demands on various government agencies are becoming more complex with time, I’ve recently noticed a positive trend emerging in addressing community needs. Rather than looking to increase the scale of individual agencies, various city, county and regional groups increasingly are launching collaborative efforts, on large and small scales alike.
One of the most visible, and a first for North Texas, was the unifying of more than 50 communities in preparation for Super Bowl XLV. With the creation of a “council of mayors,” 55 heads of cities worked together to achieve one very large goal. The council was a Super Bowl first and integral to making the game in North Texas possible. This regional approach was a great success, and despite the somewhat unusual weather, the event provided a huge economic boost to the region.
We’ve also seen the teaming of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, the North Central Texas Council of Government’s Regional Transportation Council, along with various cities and chambers of commerce, to create an innovative plan for developing a new regional rail line along the Cotton Belt right of way. This new transportation asset will link the northeast and southwest portions of the Metroplex and connect with air service at DFW Airport. What originally was envisioned as a public project now is being developed as a public-private partnership, seeking to expedite the process in response to tremendous public interest. This multidisciplinary group is creating the financial resources needed to expedite construction of the rail line and greatly impact our transportation landscape.
On a smaller scale, but driven by the same interest in efficiency, I’ve witnessed the spirit of collaboration firsthand in support of surface water management in the Valley Ranch community. Recently, the Irving Flood Control District Section III joined with leaders of the Valley Ranch Association and the city of Irving to begin extending the city’s Sam Houston Trail Park into Valley Ranch. Rather than any one entity single-handedly designing and completing this venture, leaders of the VRA, the city and the flood control district teamed to begin making the extension a reality. Through collaboration, the resulting project will be thoughtfully integrated into the roads, walking paths, water features and overall community.
These and other similar ventures demonstrate that a region growing faster than its infrastructure can work smarter and be more focused. Connecting agencies and organizations possessing the right core competencies for a given assignment is smart, both logistically and financially. This course of action is one of the tools our region should continue to use in order to provide innovative solutions to the myriad challenges and opportunities of the future.
A 17-year resident of the Valley Ranch community in Irving, Kim Andres is president of Irving Flood Control District Section III, the publicly funded agency responsible for constructing and maintaining canals, ponds and other natural water management facilities that safeguard people and enhances the economic value of property throughout the community. Learn more at www.ifcd3.org.