Tuesday, July 5, 2022 Jul 5, 2022
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OUT FRONT How Dallas Ranks

Are we losing our entrepreneurial edge?
By Wick Allison |

DAVID BIRCH IS THE AUTHOR OF JOB CRE-ation in America and president of Cognetics Inc., a Boston-based economic consulting firm which, among other things, tracks the employment and growth figures of American cities. Along with several hundred other people, I was introduced to Birch and his firm by Jerry Fults of Fults Realty, who brought him to Dallas for a briefing several months ago. Like most observers, Birch thinks we have converted to a knowledge-based economy, but his particular interest is in what this means for jobs and for cities.

In a know ledge-based economy, he argues, growth will be based on four foundations. The first is a skilled, educated work force. The most successful cities will be those that encourage technical training and post-graduate opportunities. The second foundation is access to the air. Businesses large and small will depend on the ability to travel easily and quickly, preferably in a day. The third foundation is that it be a “nice place.” Businesses are no longer tied to old transportation facilities like ports or navigable waterways. “Nobody has to suffer through Boston winters anymore, and that’s why we’re losing jobs up here,” says Birch. The fourth is an entrepreneurial climate that fosters business start-ups. Entrepreneurs need encouragement and like recognition.

By these criteria our strengths are obvious. We are a city that celebrates our entrepreneurs, we have DFW Airport, we’re in the center of the country, living costs are not outrageous, and our climate is warm. (Eight of the top 10 cities are in the nation’s southern sector.) That’s the good news.

The bad news is we’re not as entrepreneurial as we think we are. Birch lists 10 “hotspots” where the most new companies have started and have been growing for the last four years. Dallas missed being ranked in the top 10; we came in at No. 11.

And what’s worse, by the same criteria, Texas doesn’t rank in the top 10 stales. It came in at No. 14.

Is the world beginning to pass us by? Our entrepreneurial roots are mainly in real estate, oil and gas, and retail. These industries are not exactly prime examples of the new knowledge-based economy. Even though Birch’s research shows that we will be the third fastest growing city in the next decade, to my mind it’s a sad day when Dallas is beat out entrepreneurial by by Salt Lake City.

Am I worrying too much? David Birch thinks so. “Eleventh is good for a city like Dallas. Look at Boston. We ranked No. 36. You guys are in a terrific position.” But the comparison doesn’t wash. Boston is old money. Dallas was built by new money-generation after generation of new money. I’d like to believe we can keep it flowing.

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