Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is Dallas Missing an Opportunity - Again?

"As the U.S. continues strong trading partnerships with China and Pacific Rim countries, the Dallas Logistics Hub will become a key component of how goods are distributed throughout our hemisphere," said U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. "The Hub's central location and proximity to major trade routes through Mexico and the Midwestern and Eastern United States strategically position Dallas to thrive and take advantage of the international shifting of trade patterns."

With these words, in April, 2007, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson helped introduce an economic development opportunity which, in the minds of some, could develop the barren land south of I20 into a transportation hub which could rival DFW airport in its fiscal significance. The Allen Group, a developer of such hubs, a collection of warehouses and distribution centers throughout the country, had bought more than 6000 acres of land and was preparing to build (since constructed), two such warehouses totalling more than 800,000 square feet.

It is projected that this inland port will bring more than 60,000 jobs, directly and indirectly to the regional economy and will boost the fortunes of not only Dallas, but also the southern suburbs of Lancaster, DeSoto, Duncanville and beyond. Dallas County and the city of Dallas, needed to partner with the Allen Group in terms of infrastructure development to take this project from dream to reality.

Investors (the Allen Group is the principal, but not the only investor), who are willing to spend their own dime, come into an vacant area but within proximity to working class, low and moderate income neighborhoods, offering the opportunity for living wage jobs in a near recession proof industry. Sounds like a no brainer right?

Then why is the City insisting on a Master Plan, before they get started?

The next few posts will look at the Dallas Logistics Hub and its potential benefits to the Southern Dallas economy (as well as Dallas as a whole). They will also feature Congresswoman Johnson's thoughts on why this project needs to go forward. The Representative for Dallas' 30th Congressional District was kind enough to share with me her thoughts and views on what this venture's potential.

While our country is mired in its current economic distress, and with the President-elect calling for a massive stimulus package which includes infrastructure development and public works; with a congressional representative sitting on the committee that will make recommendations on the funding of those projects, why would the city of Dallas call for a study that would not be finished until after the stimulus is projected to conclude?

I think these are important questions because the future of our city and the redevelopment of Dallas' poorest areas could hang in the balance.

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