North Texas is growing quickly, both in terms of population and in business opportunity.
Included in that growth is a strong push from international corporations into the region and, increasingly, into one city in particular: Richardson.
There are more than 60 foreign-owned companies that have operations in Richardson. Because the number can fluctuate it is difficult to tell exactly what that number is, according to representatives from the City of Richardson, but the most recent count put it at 64.
By comparison, Plano – Richardson’s immediate neighbor to the north and a city with a population more than double that of Richardson – has 63 foreign-owned businesses operating in the city.
“What I have to do is convince them, first, that Texas is a place that they should come do business,” said Mike Skelton, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of International Business. “And then I can talk to them about Dallas-Fort Worth. And then once I can talk about that then I can get to the specifics of Richardson.”
Skelton and his team hosted 28 foreign delegations in 2017 alone, representing countries primarily from Europe, Asia and South America.
Skelton likens his primary role as a concierge, of sorts, who works to connect the companies with the services that they require to do business in America – legal services, accountants, banking, visa requests, access to a local employment base, market research, etc.
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That work to connect companies to needed services happens under the auspices of the Richardson Economic Development Concierge program; what the City refers to as its ‘soft landing’ program. And the soft landing program was recently named the best of its kind in the world by Foreign Direct Investment magazine, a publication of the Financial Times of London.
In 2011, the Texas Legislature named Richardson the International Business Capital of Texas.
There is an international influence in Richardson that stretches beyond the business community, as well. There are approximately 90 languages spoken by students in the Richardson Independent School District. Approximately 17 percent of the city’s population is of Asian descent. And about a third of the enrollment at the University of Texas at Dallas, which is located in Richardson, is made up of international students.