Allen goes all-out to help companies relocate quickly Featured

8:01pm EDT April 30, 2012
Allen goes all-out to help companies relocate quickly

If you run a technology business or a company involved in engineering, medical devices, pharmaceuticals or financial servies, the city of Allen has you in its sights.

“We’ve really been going after the technology companies,” says Dan Bowman, interim executive director of the Allan Economic Development Corp. “We’re a natural extension of the telecom corridor north of Dallas, so we find that a lot of the work force in this area is attracted here because of the educational opportunities. Our school district is ranked very highly, and we tend to attract families that are engineering- and technology-oriented.

“Also, we have a lot of medical device and defense-related companies. We’ve been going after pharmaceutical companies and businesses in the financial services sector, as well as information technology and software engineers.”

Asked what factors a company should weigh if it’s considering moving to North Texas, Bowman cited the area’s high-quality work force, its competitive real estate prices and Texas’s healthy economy.

“As you look at Allen, we have a little over three and a half million people in a 30-mile radius that can commute here, and a lot of them have skill sets that fit the types of companies we’re targeting,” Bowman says. “We have a highly educated work force. You’re not going to have to worry about whether you can attract the talent, because they’re already here.

“If you’re comparing us to the rest of the U.S., a lot of jobs are being created in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Texas in general has had a robust economy. We weren’t impacted by the mortgage crisis the way other areas were. We were the last into the recession and the first out of it.”

The aspect that most sets Allen apart for firms looking to relocate is the speed with which the city can move a company through the zoning-permitting process.

“We look at the zoning, permitting and construction process almost like the private sector does,” he says. “Government has a tendency to take a long time; there’s a lot of red tape. But when we bring in economic development projects, we fast-track them. The city puts together task forces that include the planning director and the department heads, and they’ll work weekends, evenings — as long as it takes to get the job done.”

Two recent examples of this fast-tracking were Cisco Systems and Cabela’s.

“Three and a half weeks was how long it took Cisco Systems to get the zoning for their data center a couple years ago,” Bowman says. “That’s from when they submitted their paperwork to when they got the zoning. That’s unheard of. And for our new Cabela store, it took just a little over four weeks.

“We realize time is money. We don’t sit on permits. We make sure they move forward.”

HOW TO REACH: Allen Economic Development Corp., (972) 727-0250 or www.allentx.com

QUICK INFO

County: Collin

Incorporated: 1953

Population: 84,246 (2010 Census)

Land area: 27.1 square miles

Government system: Council-manager

Mayor: Stephen Terrell

City manager: Peter H. Vargas

Phone: (214) 509-4100

Web: www.cityofallen.org