2 min read December 2022 — In an interview with Invest:, Ken Fulk, mayor of the City of Allen, discussed the city’s key ongoing projects, what differentiates Allen from other cities in the region and the kind of businesses the city is looking to attract, saying “we want people who understand that their success is our success and vice versa.”
What are some key projects for the city?
A big opportunity has been an initiative to redevelop our old Downtown that has been sitting there for a long time without any development. We started a Downtown Steering Committee last July and that group has systematically been going through our Downtown, doing an inventory of who owns the land, who owns the businesses and what’s down there. We hired a consultant to work with them in the second phase, where they’re engaging our citizens to ask them what they want in our Downtown area, what they would find most desirable. The group will finish that phase in June, after which they’ll present a report to the city council, including recommendations.
The other thing that’s been going on in the last two years is what we call our Highway 121 corridor. It’s the major highway on the northwest side of Allen. That land has largely sat vacant for the last 30 or 40 years, with little to no development occurring up there. Now there’s a whole lot of interest in the area that I call our last frontier. It’s our last major ability to develop commercial property and build our tax base such that we can keep our tax rates low specifically for the single-family residential group, which is the one most concerned with our local tax rate. We have several developments up there. One development, called The Farm, has already started. They’ve got a large complex being constructed, which will be finished by early next year. Another development, next to The Farm, called The Avenue, has an office building in the planning phase.
The next thing I would like to note is that Allen this past year finished a new strategic plan. We hadn’t done a new strategic plan or a major update for nearly 20 years. We updated it this past year as a guiding document in determining what we want to do as far as goals and objectives, but it also is a planning tool regarding budgeting.
What is the city doing regarding diversity and inclusion?
This past year, the city formed a diversity and inclusion steering committee to look at those issues specific to Allen. The committee presented its report and after some discussions, the council has begun to form a permanent board within our city that will deal with those issues. It will probably be in place around September.
When I first moved here in 1984, Allen was predominantly white, around 90% to 92%. The other 8% was made up of different ethnicities. Today, Allen is about 54% white and 46% other ethnicities. The largest group is Asian, which includes a lot of people from Bangladesh, India, Middle Eastern countries, the Philippines, China and Malaysia. We are very diverse and we want to do what we can to celebrate that in our community.
What kind of business are you looking to attract to Allen?
If a business is looking to come to Allen and they want to be here, we will do everything we can to try to help them be here. We like businesses that want to be good corporate partners with our community. Sometimes businesses are just looking for the best deal they can get. If that’s what they’re looking for and they don’t have any desire to partner with the community, then we don’t work as hard to get those businesses here because we want people to partner with us.
We’ve been very successful in the last two years. We brought MD7, which is a company that works on cellular transmission systems and is headquartered in San Diego. They relocated their headquarters here and they brought in over 200 jobs as part of that relocation during the pandemic, which is amazing. We also have the Credit Union of Texas, which placed its headquarters here as well, and they have probably been the most fantastic company we’ve dealt with in a long time. They are a true corporate partner. We would like to find more companies like that because we want people who understand that their success is our success and vice versa.
What sets Allen apart from other cities?
I think one thing that sets us apart is that we are a very well-educated community. We have a great workforce, especially when it comes to the technology area. There are a lot of people who are well educated, and I’m talking about people with master’s and Ph.D. degrees. Because of that, a lot of technology companies are looking to come to the Metroplex.
The Allen Independent School District is one of the best school districts in the Metroplex. We have a well-rounded educational system that helps contribute to our workforce development.
How important is it for Allen to keep graduates in the city?
It’s extremely important to keep those people here because we’re helping them get a great education and we would love for them to stay here and contribute to the community that they came from originally. It’s extremely important to keep them engaged and bring them back because when you think about it, we’ve made a huge investment to get them through our school system and to educate them.
What are your outlook and top priorities for Allen in the near term?
My outlook is very positive because we have been doing a lot of things in the last year that will provide huge benefits for our community down the road. We have several great projects going on, like the 150,000-square-foot Recreation Center being built on the west side of Allen that should be completed by next spring. There are also some infrastructure projects in our community to help improve transportation through our city and around our city. And, of course, the redevelopment of Downtown and several other projects that are underway.
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