Thursday, May 21, 2009

Plano EDB attracts business despite economy

By Stewart Jamess

Members of the Plano Economic Development Board and city officials are enjoying the fruits of their labor as companies begin relocating to the city. In 2008, the Plano Economic Development Board and the city of Plano attracted 27 companies, filling about 1.3 million square feet of office space and adding nearly 3,500 jobs. The success of 2008 is spilling into 2009, despite tough economic times.

Resulting from incentive agreements negotiated by the Plano EDB and approved by the city council, a number of businesses will begin the relocation process to Plano in the upcoming months, including Bear Transportation Services and Diodes Inc. The two companies alone will contribute more than 600 employees to the area.

The Plano EDB assists companies with cash grants to help cover the cost of relocation and other expenses.

“It has been really, really good,” said David Ellis, Plano EDB director of technology marketing and redevelopment. “When you look at the rest of the United States, this is one of those small dots of prosperity there still is. There are still companies that are struggling right now, but we are still seeing our share of projects come through.”

Most communities would be thrilled to see even a fraction of what Plano has generated, Ellis said.

“If you are a job seeker, this is the place to be relative to other parts of the country,” he said.

Since 2006, the Plano EDB has seen a consistent increase in the number of companies relocating to Plano. In 2006, 18 companies relocated to Plano followed by 22 in 2007.

“Just a year or two back, when employment was so low, there were problems with bringing in large employment deals because the new companies moving in are picking up workers from some of the surrounding companies,” Ellis said. “So it creates a problem sometimes for existing companies. The economy has changed where you are looking at employment opportunities for you[r] community; just in the last year that has changed dramatically.”

In March, Plano reported a 6.6 percent unemployment rate, which was lower than the county, state and country’s unemployment rates.

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