Allen Economic Development Corporation courts the employers of tomorrow.
In the early 90s, City leaders realized Allen had a problem. The population was booming, more than doubling to 18,000 residents within a decade. But with few businesses, homeowners were shouldering nearly all the tax burden.
“At the time, we were truly a bedroom community,” explained Dan Bowman, CEO of Allen Economic Development Corporation (AEDC). “To find a true ‘job center,’ you’d have to drive to Richardson or Plano or Dallas.”
The solution? Convince businesses to move a bit further north. Allen residents voted to form the AEDC in 1992 with the goal of bringing quality jobs and investment to the community by recruiting and retaining businesses and assisting development of quality commercial spaces. Funding comes from a half-cent sales tax paid on retail and restaurant purchases.
Allen Premium Outlets, which opened in 2000, was among its first big scores.
“For the first time, people were coming to Allen for the express purpose of spending money,” said Bowman. “Every dollar they spent produced additional sales tax and gave AEDC more leverage in attracting the next quality project.”
Today you’ll find ample evidence of this snowballing success. As of 2015, AEDC projects created more than 17,000 jobs and generated a property tax base of more than $2.5 billion. In 2018 alone, builders were putting the finishing touches on more than $500 million in new construction projects—many of them in the burgeoning Watters Creek District.
“When we added the new One Bethany at Watters Creek campus in 2017, we entered new territory,” said Bowman. “High-end corporate tenants now have a potential place to call home.”
Offices at One Bethany East were snapped up within months, with Boss Fight Entertainment, Verado Energy and lead tenant Credit Union of Texas bringing hundreds of new jobs. Its sister building, One Bethany West, is set to open in 2020 with more opportunities for growth—and continuing support for the community at large.
“When corporations invest in Allen, everyone benefits,” explained Bowman. “They pay school taxes that help hire new teachers. They pay city taxes that help build new parks.”
But AEDC’s success isn’t only measured only in dollars. The projects attracted during its 27-year existence are now woven tightly into the Allen experience. It’s the family ice cream outing to The Village at Allen, the girls’ night concert at Allen Event Center, the prom pictures snapped at Watters Creek at Montgomery Farms. With the recent zoning approval of Monarch City (see page 0), AEDC is poised to help add to the collection of family-friendly amenities fueling Allen’s economic growth.
“Whether you’re a homeowner or business owner, Allen is a special place,” said Bowman, mentioning the City’s recent rankings as Best Place to Live (2017) and Best Place to Launch a Career (2018) by Money Magazine. “We want to preserve that incredible atmosphere while preparing our community for a successful future.“