I never imagined ending up in Dallas. Growing up in Detroit, I embraced moving away, but Chicago was my destination. The plan was to graduate with my MBA from the University of Michigan and head to Chi-Town as soon as possible. But then an offer I couldn’t refuse came from Frito-Lay in Plano soon after graduation. “I’ll live there for a few years, then head back north,” I told myself.
That was over 15 years ago. Guess who got here and never wanted to leave? And why would I? Dallas boasts one of the most robust business corridors found anywhere in the United States. Just within the past decade, large corporations such as AT&T, MoneyGram, Comerica Bank, and Hostess Brands (Interstate Bakeries) have relocated their headquarters here. There are more restaurants here per capita than New York City. The shopping is some of the best in the country. Texas literally invented the strip mall. A tip for all you fashionistas: Sam Moon and Charming Charlie. There is no state tax. And DFW International Airport is one of the easiest airports to navigate, which makes traveling to see family and friends a breeze. And for regional flights, there’s Love Field, home of Southwest Airlines.
I find Dallas refreshing, particularly as a working professional and an African-American interested in making a difference. It’s relatively easy to get plugged in if you know where to start, which is why I jumped at the chance to take part in this special report from D Magazine, “Why Black Achievers Choose Dallas.” I wanted to showcase the city I’ve grown to love and guide the uninitiated toward its charms. Interested in community service? Ample opportunity here. Looking for a church home? Dallas is a city full of diverse options, from the mega-church to the smaller neighborhood places of worship. The weather is great nine months out of the year. I do suggest traveling to milder climates in June, July, and August. Or, if local vacations are more your thing, head 30 minutes northwest to Grapevine’s Great Wolf Lodge. There’s an indoor water park for the kids and a spa for the parents.
That’s what I really love about Dallas, the lifestyle options offered here. For many years, we attended a mega-church about 30 miles away. Now we attend a smaller community church 5 miles from our house in Carrollton. On the weekends, my daughter takes gymnastics and plays with her friends in our multi-ethnic neighborhood, but during the week we shuttle her downtown to predominantly African-American Saint Philip’s Episcopal School & Community Center. My son, however, attends a predominantly white, private middle school in Lakewood. His best buddy lives across the street and happens not to be black. Through our church and the friendships my husband and I have fostered, our son has a group of black kids that he hangs out with, too. Dallas allows my family to avoid the either/or scenario when it comes to our children’s education. We don’t have to sacrifice community for diversity or education for culture.
Lifestyle is important, but of increasing importance to anyone seeking a new place to lay down roots is the economic health of that region. How easy is it to start a business, find a new job, or simply connect with other professionals? Well, from 2007 to 2010, American households lost $11 trillion in real estate, savings, and stocks, including one-third of their house values. My hometown barely resembles the vibrant Motor City of childhood memories. Yet, the Dallas-Fort Worth area weathered the recession better than most parts of the country. The region leads the nation by most economic indicators such as job growth, new housing starts, and retail sales. There is a diversity of business and commerce represented here that is seldom replicated in other metropolitan areas.
My family—briefly—left Dallas in 1998. Another offer we couldn’t refuse. Seattle was nice, but it wasn’t Dallas. There was no Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, for starters. To get my fix, we traveled back to Texas several times a year. That’s how I know I love this city. I spent PTO to get here. We made it back in 2000, and one of the first things I noticed was a bumper sticker that read, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could.” I understand that sentiment. And after moving here, you will, too.