It’s been nearly one year since McKinney went nationwide. This month marks the one-year anniversary of Money Magazine naming McKinney the second-best small city in which to live in the country, trailing only Carmel, Ind. The ranking undoubtedly changed the national profile of McKinney. Many people all over the country most likely learned about McKinney via those rankings.
The ranking has boosted civic pride for the citizens of McKinney and in some cases, even brought new people to our city. As we approach the anniversary, TownSquareBuzz.com looked into the effect the ranking has had one year later.
We found out it had a real, tangible impact for many of McKinney’s citizens. According to some of McKinney’s civic leaders, the ranking has increased McKinney’s reputation throughout the country.
“When I’ve been to other cities and people ask where I’m from, I say ‘McKinney, Texas’, and they’ve now heard of it or know where it is,” McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller told TSB. “One real impact is the recognition outside of Dallas. People know us now for being McKinney and not just for being part of Dallas.”
McKinney’s newest City Councilman Randy Pogue agrees. “Whether you’re on the beach in Florida or talking to a client on the phone, most people have heard of McKinney or even know where it is,” Pogue told TSB. “It’s definitely put us on the map. Historically we’ve been one of the best-kept secrets around. It (the ranking) sheds light on us. It’s brought an exposure on us that is very positive.”
The impact has been felt throughout the DFW metroplex as well. George Fuller, one of the developers of Adriatica in McKinney, says that people who are looking to move North of Dallas are now choosing McKinney over cities like Plano, Frisco, and Allen.
People know us now for being McKinney and not just for being part of Dallas. – McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller
“We have definitely seen an impact,” Fuller told TSB. “I’m hearing that people are considering McKinney after reading the article about McKinney in Money Magazine. For many people, McKinney wasn’t on their radar. It was all Frisco, Allen, Fairview, Plano, etc. And then see the ranking and read about it, come to downtown, and fall in love.”
Fuller says that he hasn’t talked to any prospective Adriatica residents in the last 6-8 months that didn’t know about the Money Magazine ranking. “The ranking has had a very tangible impact,” Fuller said. “We’re talking to more people because of it. And a lot of the people that we are talking to, the ranking has been the impetus, the driving force for them moving to McKinney. And when they look at McKinney, we obviously come up as well.”
Fuller told TSB he also has talked to people who are moving from out of state to come to McKinney. “I just talked to a couple from California that are moving to North Texas. They wouldn’t have considered McKinney except they saw the ranking,” Fuller said.
Pogue told TSB that he recently spoke to an architect who’s planning on moving his business from California specifically because of the Money Magazine ranking.
People are also beginning to move to McKinney specifically because of the Money Magazine ranking. Melanie Hedrick, a McKinney real estate agent, told TSB that she helped a client who moved to McKinney specifically because of the Money Magazine ranking. “She (the client) told me she was looking for a change in her life and the ranking played a major role in her decision to move half way across the country to McKinney,” Hedrick said.
Paige and Archie Andrews brought their family to McKinney in part due to the ranking as well. They were looking to relocate to the DFW area due to Archie’s job as Vice President of Design and Construction for the Zoës Kitchen restaurant chain. Paige said they also looked at Plano and Lakewood, due to its walkability.
She said they were drawn to McKinney after traveling to Dallas from their home in Birmingham for two years. She said they stayed in several areas, including downtown McKinney and fell in love with its small-town feel. “Over the course of two years of traveling and visiting, it just felt like the right place for us to be,” she said. “It really just fit for us.”
But when it came time to actually decide where to live, she said that she and Archie looked to the Internet for research and came upon the Money Magazine ranking. “The ranking brought our attention to McKinney,” Paige said. “If we’re looking at a place to eat, we look online to see what percentage of people like it and don’t like it. This was kind of the same thing.”
The Andrews family has only been in McKinney since mid-July but already love their new home. “When we walked into our house now, it just felt right,” she said. “McKinney just felt comforting. It had a smaller town feel for us. It’s been great. We love it.”
The ranking has also generated a positive financial impact on McKinney. McKinney was already an attractive location for businesses looking to relocate or for national chains looking to open a new site before the ranking was released.
But according to several people that we talked to, the No. 2 ranking has helped to push McKinney to the top of more companies’ relocation lists than ever before. “When we’re talking to businesses that may want to relocate, they already have knowledge of McKinney before we even get there,” Loughmiller said. “So, now we don’t have to do as much in terms of talking about the city.”
Councilman Don Day agrees. “We’re constantly getting inquiries from companies that are looking to move to McKinney, maybe once a month,” Day told TSB. “We meet with people who want to move here with companies that range in size from 3-4 to 300-400 people. Our reputation as a quality city is known nationwide.”
Day also acknowledges the large companies that have already moved to McKinney because of all the city has to offer. “The ranking has a positive effect in several areas,” Day said. “We’ve seen Raytheon, Wistron, Emerson, and Traxxas all move to McKinney. All four of those big companies are bringing close to 1000 jobs to the city. They could have gone somewhere else. And being one of the best cities is a very positive factor in their decision.”
Day, who also owns several buildings throughout McKinney, sees a business impact on a smaller scale as well. “I own a new building downtown and we’re 100% leased,” Day said. “I had to turn people away. There is a demand from small businesses wanting to be in and around downtown. It has a positive impact in a number of ways.”
For Loughmiller’s part, he takes it as validation for the improvements the city has made over the last decade. He sees the ranking as the result of all the hard work that so many of McKinney’s residents have put in to improve the city.
“We’ve increased our ranking every time the list has come out,” Loughmiller said. “We’ve gradually gone up every time, from 14th to 5th to 2nd. I take a lot of pride in that. As should anyone who worked for the city, served on a board, served on council or lived in the city over that time period.”
Day agrees with Loughmiller. “How many cities of our size are there in the nation?,” Day said. “And they chose us. It’s a huge honor. It’s amazing. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’re very blessed.”
As for the next round of “best places to live” rankings in 2014, Loughmiller hopes Money Magazine comes to their senses and ranks McKinney where it belongs. “When I talk to people, I always say McKinney’s No. 1,” Loughmiller said. “Even if Money Magazine doesn’t know it yet.”
And hopefully they (and everyone else around the country) will know it very soon.
Editor’s Note: For Ben Lane’s feature story on Carmel, Indiana, and why it beat out our fair burg for No. 1 in the nation, please click here.