On Wednesday, August 24, the Dallas City Council named the fifteen nominees for the board of directors of the new economic development corporation (EDC). 

The creation of the new entity was one of the city’s six-point strategy to make Dallas a hotbed for business attraction, as mentioned in Mayor Johnson’s state of the city address in November 2021. “Dallas is the economic engine for this entire region, and we need to start acting like it,” said Johnson at the time.

In the 2021 state of the city address, Mayor Johnson said that there’s a need to recognize that Dallas is competing with other cities, not only at a national level. “The cities that we used to call our bedroom communities have caught us napping over the years,” said Johnson, explaining that neighboring cities were able to attract businesses and residents away from Dallas with promises of better schools, better infrastructure, better amenities and lower crime and tax rates.

“Dallas is an economic success story. But we have work to do,” continued Johnson. “ We can do so much more to ensure that we get our fair share of the new workers, the new businesses and the new development that’s coming into this region.”

This is where the importance of the creation of the EDC comes in. Its goal is to support business development and serve as a public developer within the city of Dallas. Economic development corporations are formed to finance new and expanded business enterprises in their local communities. Usually, this is done through performance agreements with the business that also would need to meet certain criteria to qualify for financial assistance.

In regards to Johnson’s concern about neighbor competitors, many North Texas smaller cities already have EDCs working. Frisco founded its EDC way back in 1991, while McKinney did the same in 1993, and since then both entities have been involved in major economic and community developments. Dallas has some catching up to do.

The city’s economic development committee has been working on the project since it was first briefed on November 1, 2021. In March 2022, the city opened a public call for nominees, asking for candidates with twenty specific areas of expertise that match the city’s priorities, such as affordable housing, diversity, equity and inclusion, education, innovation, real estate and economic development, among others. Over 100 candidates applied to the fifteen-member board.

Candidates were nominated to the EDC board of directors based on their business background and expertise. “This is a great group of nominees,” said Council Member Tennell Atkins, chairman of the city’s economic development committee in an official statement. “I am excited to see how they steer the City of Dallas Economic Development Corporation and support the Dallas business community.”

Meet the nominees:

  • Alan Dorantes, Senior Corporate Counsel, T-Mobile USA Inc.
  • Ardo Fuentes, Senior Vice President, Investments, Stifel
  • Chris Bradshaw, Business Services Support Directors, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
  • Cynthia Figueroa, Managing Attorney, The Figueroa Law Group, PLLC
  • Dania Duncan Moreno, Partner, Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP
  • Debra Hunter Johnson, Founder, President, and Principal Consultant, Reciprocity Consulting Group, LLC
  • Gilbert Gerst, Senior Vice President & Corporate Manager of Community Development Banking, BOK Financial Corporation
  • Holly Reed, Current Principal & Advocacy Practice Leader, Ryan, LLC
  • Jimmy Tran, Owner & Area Developer, Code Ninjas
  • John Stephens, General Partner, MJ Lupton Partners LP
  • Johnnie King, President, KG Concessions DFW, LP
  • Kim Noltemy, President & CEO, Dallas Symphony Association
  • Linda McMahon, President & CEO, The Real Estate Council
  • Michon Fulgham, CRA Director, Community Development Lending Principal Advisor and CRA Community Development Director