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$1.24 Billion Spent on Dallas Economic Development

Critics question use of money

Dallas spent $1.24 billion on economic development the past 10 years according to a new city council briefing to be debated this week.

The first ever detailed summary of Dallas economic development spending and programs was requested by five city council Members, Tiffinni Young, Carolyn King Arnold, Philip Kingston, Scott Griggs and Adam Medrano.

Several of the members have argued that the Dallas economic development focus should give greater priority to disadvantaged areas.

Councilman Philip Kingston said his 2013 vote in favor of $1.8 million in tax abatement to help ad firm The Richards Group move from one Central Expressway location to another is one of his biggest regrets.

“I think The Richards Group and Saatchi and Saatchi are two great examples of developments that would have happened no matter what we did at the City of Dallas,” Kingston said.

Last month, ad firm Saatchi and Saatchi received a $75,000 grant to support the company’s lease of space in a new McKinney Avenue office building.

Kingston voted against the Saatchi and Saatchi grant.

“My part of town, thank God, is booming. We love it. It’s very exciting. Not all of the city is sharing in that wealth,” Kingston said.

Southern Dallas Council Member Carolyn King Arnold has been critical of support provided to other areas.

“Economic development is a rarity if you will in the Southern Sector, and I’m very concerned that there’s not equity,” Arnold said. “My constituents are still asking for basic sidewalks, streets, restaurants.”

The briefing totals all public private partnership grants and tax abatements, tax increment finance district allocations and other programs the Economic Development Department uses.

In return for the $1.24 billion, the report says Dallas leveraged more than 5 times more private investment for a total of $6.59 billion. The report cites 19,430 jobs created in the 10 year period.

“When we increase our tax base in any part of the city, clearly it spreads out across the entire city,” Councilman Lee Kleinman said.

Other cities use many of the same incentives to compete with Dallas for economic development plums that can produce long term benefits.

Several Dallas suburbs use sales tax money for economic development while Dallas devotes a half-cent of sales taxes to public transportation.

“The way we see economic development is by having transit within our city, and relieving traffic and getting people from place to place, providing mobility through DART. That’s how we’re investing our economic development dollars,” Kleinman said.

Kleinman said the Oak Cliff Gateway, Inland Port and Southwest Center Mall are examples of Southern Sector projects receiving economic development support from Dallas.

He said each project is reviewed on its own merits and he sees no reason to change policy.

“One of the things we have to look at is where are we going to get the most bang for our buck,” he said.

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