2 min read May 2022 — In an interview with Invest:, Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer, talked about what the city has been able to accomplish over the last year and efforts that have been made in regard to the city infrastructure to maintain the existing systems and prepare for growth. Stopfer also shared his lessons learned, particularly in regard to diverse business owners and the need to help them understand their role in the community.
What have been some lessons learned over the last year?
Something I learned early on is to be in the community. With over 200 houses of worship and diversity within the population, it’s important for me to be part of the community to understand their beliefs and concerns. As I brought people together, I realized that the way they do business in their country is completely different from the way we do business here. I learned early on that they needed to be involved at different levels, so I set up meetings with the city manager, police chief, fire chief and others so that they could ask the right questions to understand their role in the community and how to be successful. Now, they feel much more comfortable going through the inspection process, aren’t worried about any lack of understanding and can assimilate into the way we do business.
What business sectors are you looking to continue to grow over the next few years?
One of the areas we are seeing a lot of interest in is cybersecurity and dealing with infrastructure for business as far as the day-to-day operations. Technical fields continue to be an area where we are seeing growth and will continue to see expansion. We are seeing the engineering and information systems jobs really starting to take hold. We also have the unique experience of having over 8,000 businesses within our community that have less than 50 employees, so we continue to see small business growth, as well.
What makes the area attractive to new and relocating businesses?
Being close to the DFW Airport allows us to conveniently move people, freight, goods and services back and forth through the airlines. Because we have so many corporate headquarters in Irving, it is not uncommon to have people fly in to do business, which in turn helps the travel and tourism industry. In fact, the hotel sector has grown to over 13,000 hotel rooms within the city. That revenue has allowed us to expand the business experience through our music factory and convention center, which caters to the businessperson.
The other attractive feature is our transportation infrastructure; we are unique in the way traffic moves through Irving and the variety of public transportation options.
How has your office supported the influx of people to the region?
We are very fortunate that we still have the old Texas Stadium site and land around it that gives us 400 acres for development. It is bigger than the Downtown District of Dallas. There is potential to expand and grow and we have several economic prospects. One of the segments that has been hot for the last few years has been warehousing, which is a major industry that employs a large number of people. Our biggest challenge is housing stock, however the city continues to look at creative ways to provide a variety of housing options throughout Irving.
What is the importance of recent projects as they relate to infrastructure and sustainability?
The basis for any success is to have a good infrastructure foundation. In about 1992, we started developing a plan for how we could improve our major roads. As we started to grow, transportation became a key component, with about 200,000 people coming into Irving daily for work. We have been tackling road projects through phases, and even when people were pulling back as a result of the pandemic, the city worked diligently to complete planned road projects. We saved over $90 million by moving forward with projects while contractors were hungry for work and material costs were low. We also never let up on our replacement of water, drainage and sewer infrastructure. That strong foundation will be essential for any future growth.
What is your near-term outlook for the city and what are your top priorities?
We are focused on adjusting to the new way of doing business and how it impacts the economy in ways you wouldn’t typically think about. Even during this pandemic, however, we had companies expand their infrastructure. The future is bright, it is just different and continuously changing, so determining how everything will fit together is our priority. The City of Irving will be successful, but how we get there will look differently.
For more information, visit: