In recent weeks, I have witnessed, or been involved in, conversations about the subject of McKinney’s economic development, or perceived lack there-of. It’s always amazing to me that so many residents are willing to embrace, and spread, any information that they have heard via the rumor mill.
Discussion revolves around the concept that the city is missing many opportunities for growth in the area of economic development. Around town I hear residents complaining that the city isn’t doing enough to entice businesses to locate to McKinney. There is concern that our taxes are too high. “It’s too difficult to do set up a business in McKinney,” I hear. “We need more retail growth – look at Fairview and Allen,” residents comment.
The example I hear of the most frequently is with regard to the Cracker Barrel restaurant. Rumor has it that our city is “too difficult to work with” and said no to Cracker Barrel, who supposedly wanted to plant a restaurant somewhere along Hwy. 75. After looking into this matter, I’m unable to find that Cracker Barrel ever submitted an application to our city. Perhaps discussions took place, but that’s as far as things progressed.
When I over-hear these conversations, I can’t help but wonder, “What exactly do you want for McKinney and at what cost?”
As I attend or watch the McKinney City Council meetings, I’ve heard Council mention many times that economic development is their number one initiative.
I spoke with Keith Clifton, Chairman of the McKinney Economic Development Committee (MEDC) Board of Directors, who said that that MEDC is working on some great things for the future of McKinney’s economic development. He also declined to discuss the particulars of any deals citing that he is unable to discuss details until they are finalized.
“A lot of good things are going on (with economic development), but some of that is confidential until the point of consumation. We have a lot to be proud of. The Council and our city manager are doing a great job and are working very hard to get the job done (economic development),” Clifton said.
Indeed, the city recently announced that Emerson will build a new headquarters at the Gateway project area at Hwy. 121 and Central Expressway. Emerson is a step in the right direction for our community without a doubt.
That being said, an application has been made to Planning and Zoning for a truck stop to be constructed at Wilmeth Road and Hwy. 75. Do we really want a truck stop at a location that in the future will be actually more near the city center as growth continues north? There is citizen opposition to this, and as important as economic growth is to our community, don’t we have to ask if this is the kind of development that is best for our city? This location is fairly close to residential areas. I know if I lived in the northern section of our city, I would not want a truck stop “in my backyard”!
As we watch retail growth spread northward, I have frequently heard memebers of City Council say that this growth is a natural progression – one that will come to McKinney as more homes stretch to the north.
It appears that this is part of a natural process. Those retails shops in Allen and Fairview will dip into the market in their towns and surrounding areas, giving them a larger market to pull from.
Ray Eckenrode, of Appian Commercial Realty had this to say about retail development.
“What people may not think about when discussing bringing retail to McKinney is that the corporate retailers are going to build where they can reach the most people in the least amount of time,” Eckenrode said. “So restaurants or retailers like a Macaroni Grill or Mac store aren’t likely to build in Adriatica, where 70,000 people can reach them within 10 minutes, when they can currently build along 75 south of us in Allen or north Plano and reach over 250,000+ within a 10 minute radius. If you were them and after the highest possible profit, what would you do? It’s a natural progression as our county grows north.”
McKinney has so much more room for growth. The city is only approximately one third built out. More retail and corporate business will come, however, I respsect the city’s approach that we should be restrictive in this growth process. After all, do we want to slap up any kind of building along Central Expressway? I hope that my children will still be proud to live in McKinney fifty years from now and will someday appreciate that city leaders managed growth.
What do you think?