Last year, former Dallas banking executive Ed Curtis launched CEOlink, an invitation-only group that helps newly relocated top execs connect with those who already live and work here. With backing from Mavericks President Donnie Nelson and Jack Matthews of Matthews Southwest, the company, recently rebranded as Y Texas, has a sizeable Dallas presence and has expanded into Austin, too. Its new “digital destination platform” will launch in January. Here’s an interview with Curtis from the December issue of D CEO magazine.
Q. Texas is a leading state for net inbound migration, with Dallas in the top four cities. What role does Y Texas play?
A. Companies moving here were historically large, multinational corporations. Now, we’re seeing entrepreneurial companies from all over the world. We’re in the midst of a generational and cultural shift that will shape the trajectory of our region and state. We need to help those new to the area quickly get acclimated.
Q. What are the benefits of meeting like-minded CEOs?
A. Relocating to Texas is often a decision made by executives who are problem-solvers with a forward-thinking perspective. They need a personal network they can turn to for fast, reliable answers. We believe that connecting them with local CEOs will help preserve our business culture, keep business exchanges in Texas, and create a sense of community and shared ownership.
Q. What transition issues are most common among CEOs who are new to the area?
A. Getting the lay of the land and building trusted relationships. The sooner that happens, the sooner they can become an active part of the community. Business leaders often feel compelled to put personal issues on the back burner and get their employees settled first. It can be especially lonely for CEOs and their families in a new environment.
Q. How do happy chief executives translate into a stronger economic climate for Texas?
A. Business leaders appreciate an authentic and warm welcome from their peers—particularly those who have little to gain personally from doing so. When the CEOs experience this, they’re more likely to share their personal stories with other executives who may be thinking of moving their companies here. It creates a ripple effect.
Q. You’ve been working with Gov. Rick Perry’s office and participating in recruiting trips. What have you learned from that?
A. It has been a great experience working with unselfish, passionate citizens. On our trips, companies are asking more lifestyle and cultural questions, which are major factors in getting their employees to move with them. We’re trying to help people understand the many advantages Texas has to offer.