Boomtown Rats: Why is Dallas Being Left out of Region's Growth? Ask Our Leaders.
Story in The Dallas Morning News this morning touts Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington as the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country between July, 2011, and some unspecified date in 2012.
Hold on, Dallas. That's not us.
In fact the sad saga of our own city's growth, not mentioned in the story, is that it's never us. Today's article is about the larger metro region, called the "metropolitan statistical area" or MSA by the Census Bureau. And, yeah, that's been gangbusters for a decade.
Not Dallas. We've been left out for a long time. The story in the News is weird in one way -- was it edited badly? -- because it talks about everybody else's percentage growth in the region but not the percentage rate for Dallas. And while it brags on the highest overall raw number of new residents for any MSA in the country, the picture it paints is actually of decline for the larger region.
"From 2000 to 2010, Collin County grew at an annual rate of 5.91 percent, Denton at 5.3 percent and Rockwall at 8.18 percent," the story reports. "But since April 2010, Collin's annual rate of growth has slipped to 2.97 percent, Denton's to 3 percent and Rockwall's to 2.66 percent, the census numbers show."
Yeah, well here's the number the News failed to include. In that 2000 to 2010 period? Dallas "grew" by a measly 0.8 percent while other locales in the neighborhood were racking up 6 to 8 percent growth.
We did a lot better from 2010 to 2011, according to the census' "Quick Facts" tables.
Hardy settlers -- forklift drivers, clerks, human resource managers -- toil across the wastes of South Lake, headed for a better life north of Fort Worth.
Oh, wow. We more than doubled our rate of growth in the city. We went all the way up to 1.9 percent. Of our overall population, 23 percent in 2011 were at poverty level or below, versus 17 percent for the state, and median income was $42,251 versus $50,920 for the state.
So why am I glorying in bad news? Ain't glorying, man. Worrying. The story in the News today quotes demographers as saying the biggest factor in population growth is job growth -- surprise, surprise. To figure why maybe we're not in that picture, look to the federal criminal probe of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, or, hey, forget Price and just look at City Hall.
Offered a free pennies-from-heaven unsolicited and I would say pretty much totally undeserved gift of 60,000 new well-paid jobs eight years ago in the "Inland Port" shipping center project, Dallas found one way or another to screw it up, slow it down and put it off for more "equity" and "planning." In the meantime Fort Worth did every single thing it could to hustle up public investment in the competing Perot-owned Alliance Logistics Center.
The area around Alliance is now one of the biggest wealth-creators in the country. Last year the Texas A&M Transportation Institute said: "Since 1990, AllianceTexas, a public-private partnership, has had an economic impact of $43.74 billion, attracted more than 300 companies and created more than 31,000 jobs. The development, which was recently recognized as one of the country's fastest growing communities, is less than 50 percent complete."
Look, I don't think this is just envy. I'm saying that should have been us. We need to think about why it's not us. It's one thing to be slow-growth and low-income if you're surrounded by more of the same. But what does it say if you're in the middle of a boomtown and you're the only one who's not booming?
It says something, I know that. I go back to my theory that we don't really have cities here anyway. We have families, like in the Middle Ages. The Perots, one of Dallas's richest, happen to have all their eggs in that basket over by Fort Worth. Is it coincidence that we here in Dallas seem to wind up with eggshells?
When the Allen group came along from California and offered us the Inland Port There was only one right reaction. "Glory hallelujah. What can we do to help?" Instead Commissioner Price and the North Central Texas Council of Governments banded together to demand "equity" and "more planning." You know what "equity" and "more planning" mean in plain English? Get outta town.
Look, this is not to say we shouldn't be glad our region is tearing up the road. That's wonderful. This is to say we should get past the hick-town all-cousin bullshit, push what's left of our own poor old clunker out on that road, put the pedal to the metal and burn that buggy down if we have to, but quit listening to losers and just get in the damn race.