2 min read March 2022 — The city of Frisco has set out to attract Fortune 500 companies and it is doing so partly by creating a startup ecosystem, said Mayor Jeff Cheney. In an interview with Invest:, Cheney also discussed the influx of new residents and managing the city’s growth as well as keeping new graduates in the area.
What have been the key milestones or achievements for the city over the past year?
Frisco is recognized as one of the country’s fastest-growing cities over the last decade so we are accustomed to dealing with growth. One of our strategic goals was to start landing Fortune 500 companies and the first one, Keurig Dr. Pepper, just opened its doors here in the city of Frisco. We’re also excited that the PGA of America is going to finally move its headquarters here. That was a big relocation for our region, including the assets that surround that property, such as the Omni PGA Frisco Resort, the convention center and the two championship golf courses that will open in 2023. We’ll host our first major right after that opening, so we’re about to become the modern home of golf.
How has your office worked to support the influx of new residents and businesses to the region?
Most of the people who have moved to Frisco have moved here during the last 10 to 15 years. So, most people who live here are originally from somewhere else. Some of the things that we’ve done are big reasons why people call Frisco home. It’s the quality schools that we have, which are of the highest standard, it’s a very family-friendly town, a very safe community and so it certainly becomes a destination for families looking to relocate. We also have world-class amenities.
With our growth, we’ve also become a much more diverse community. We put a lot of effort over the last five years into embracing diversity in Frisco. We welcome residents from all over the world who find that once they get to Frisco, they feel welcomed and safe. That’s something that we’ve worked very hard to develop.
What is your strategy to keep people in the region after they get an education in Frisco?
We’re trying to be a full life-cycle community, and there are multiple layers to that. First and foremost, it’s about having a vibrant job community. Our economic development team is busier than ever. In terms of corporate relocations, we’ve got a pipeline of more than 12,000 direct net new jobs that could be created in Frisco. So having high-paying jobs here is a big piece of it. Then there’s the entertainment piece and having places where people can live and where they can go out after work. We’ve been very active as far as building dynamic and mixed-use developments. It is all about delivering different experiences and attracting the younger crowd that is looking for a community where they can graduate from college and stay because they can find a job. They have a place to live and then eventually, when they’re ready to buy that first home, they know they’re ready to put those roots down and their children will have access to great schools, as well.
How is the city working to address issues such as the lack of housing supply due to the recent growth?
That’s my day job. I have a real estate brokerage, so I can see it on a day-to-day basis. This is a unique time. We’ve got a large community development called Fields. It’s 2,500 acres and it wraps around PGA Frisco. They are putting in infrastructure and roads as fast as they can to deliver to those neighborhoods. It is the new generation of neighborhoods, which is what they’re doing to target those younger generations. You have smaller-footprint homes, as the younger generations don’t necessarily all want the big backyard. Rather, they want more shared community and open spaces. It allows for denser and more affordable products, with the benefits of that great sense of community as you get out and meet people.
There’s going to be a blend of those elements in these communities, which will also offer access to high-quality apartments for rent or townhome products with walkable amenities. We’ve been very strategic to develop those walkable amenities. That’s certainly a trend we saw a long time ago so we put a plan into place and continue to try to activate it by providing more walkable amenities.
What business sectors are you looking to continue to grow within Frisco over the next few years?
Healthcare is a big one for us. Several major medical flags either have a presence here or have plans to have a footprint in Frisco. It is not just service healthcare but research. We’re very heavily focused on technology, IT and finance. Those are strong components of the economy in Frisco. We’re also pushing the entrepreneurial aspect. We have an organization called Inspired Frisco that is going to push to develop partnerships with entrepreneurs. Inspired Frisco is working directly with the University of North Texas, a Tier 1 institution, to help grow Frisco’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
We get a lot of interest from Fortune 500 companies because they want to be in an ecosystem that has a lot of startups, venture capital and entrepreneurs. It used to be that Fortune 500 companies spent millions and millions of dollars on research and development within their doors. They’ve realized that a better strategy is to develop intellectual property in an ecosystem surrounded by smaller startups. The bigger corporations then use acquisitions to further their technology. We are very focused on creating that startup ecosystem here.
What are the advantages for a business or an investor in Frisco?
Our labor base is highly educated, very talented and very entrepreneurial. We have resources for companies to fill their workforce needs, especially for some of those higher-level jobs. We have the education partners to help companies develop the curriculum they need. When a company comes to town, they can tell us their workforce needs and we can meet with our partners to develop a specialized curriculum to help train those employees. That’s a big piece of it.
We look at all companies as partners. We work to determine how we can continue to develop those relationships and understand their needs so they’re successful and continue to grow their business and brand here in Frisco. We love working with the type of businesses that truly want to be vested in the community and not just necessarily to put a sign up on a building.