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Companies discuss decision to move to Las Colinas

Las Colinas, an urban center known for its high rises and 44,000 residents, now offers an entertainment complex with an array of dinning, musical entertainment, and stage performances, which Irving had been lacking up until the last few months. The opening of the Toyota Music Factory has ignited an economic boom in our city and has attracted several new businesses.

In a recent meeting hosted by the Dallas Business Journal at the Toyota Music Factory, Las Colinas business people and city leaders discussed the benefits of Las Colinas.

A panel of 6 leaders answered questions presented by Beth Bowman, president and CEO of Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, and Hammond Perot, president and CEO of Las Colinas Association.

“When James Carpenter first shared his vision for Las Colinas everyone knew it was going to be something special,” Bowman said. “Over the years, Las Colinas evolved into a master planned masterpiece with a dynamic office market, a vast range of residential options, award winning schools, world class dining and entertainment, scenic parks, community festivals and almost every single recreation activity. We have asked our panelist to talk about the reasoning behind why they invested in Las Colinas.”

The 6 panelists included Krista Bourne, president of the south central market for Verizon; John Hedrick, CEO of Pei Wei Asian Diner; Noah Lazes, president of ARK Group; Bill Lucia, president and CEO of HMS; and Steve Van Amburgh, chairman and CEO of Dallas- based KDC.

Van Amburgh revealed he has a history with the Carpenter family.

“When I was 13 years old, I went to work at the Hackberry Ranch, which was the predecessor of Las Colinas,” Van Amburgh said. “There were a group of us who were friends with John Carpenter’s son, Ben. We worked all summer bailing hay, painting fences, and listening to Mr. Carpenter talk about his vision. When the airport announced they were going to build a new location, he and everyone agreed that this development, with its attention to detail, could be the greatest place in possibly the United States.”

One large reason every panelist touched on that makes Las Colinas a success is the location. Every panelist agreed that being located in between two airports is a great benefit. Las Colinas is 10 minutes away from each airport, according to Bowman.

“Companies that come in, they get off the plane either at DFW or Love Field, and they love it,” Van Amburgh said. “It is hard to beat this location. The fact you can get off at either airport and be here in such a short period of time is quite attractive.”

Another point that each of the panelists spoke about was Las Colinas’ ability to appeal to the younger workforce.

“Corporate America today, the recruitment and retention process focuses on the ‘live, work and play’ motto,” Van Amburgh said. “This is a pretty cool place where a millennial will want to work close.”

Pie Wei CEO Hendrick moved the company’s headquarters to Las Colinas and created hundreds of jobs.

“We wanted to move our business to a community that was designed to grow and had lots of local talent, since we would be both bringing in from our other location and hiring the local community,” Hendrick said. “Attracting and maintaining talent is really important to us. People today do not want to spend their time in traffic. Having the ability to have our work community close and to have the work area in a place we thought was ‘cool’ was very important to us. The choice to choose Las Colinas was easy for us.”

“It is all about employee retention and recruitment these days,” Bill Lucia said. “In my father’s generation it was ‘work first, live second,’ in my generation it started to change a little bit. The younger generation has fully changed to ‘live first, work second’. It is important that you have a quality of life that has a diverse and strong entertainment component.”

Krista Bourne, a director for the Greater Irving- Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the Hidden Ridge Project’s decision to establish a Las Colinas location.

“We choose it for a lot of different reasons,” Bourne said. “It is a matter of bringing our employees to a community that they can be comfortable in and where there are conveniences.

“I have relocated a few times in my career, and there is a settling mentality, where you live where you want to and work where you have to. We would like both of those to be done in Irving. We believe we can attract a workforce that will want to be there and stay there to play.

“I think we can complement what these employees’ lifestyles are like with our technology and entertainment. We are really excited to showcase that at the Hidden Ridge Project.”

A big part of the new entertainment area in Las Colinas is the Toyota Music Factory. Noah Lazes was one of the co-designers for the project.

“What really attracted us to this project was the missing component,” Lazes said. “In Irving you have the live, you have the work but no play. When I came to research this area, I asked the concierge what the good places to go out were, and they kept telling me the same eight places, and I realized they didn’t have an entertainment district. In our minds, it was an enormous opportunity to go into a market this size and create an entertainment district. The city of Irving wanted and needed it to complete the idea of ‘live, work, play.’”

The event was sponsored by the Irving Economic Development and the Las Colinas Association.