October 25, 2016
The first general session of the ULI fall 2016 conference was entitled “The Fundamentals of Attracting and Keeping companies: North Texas Style.” And, according to the materials, the session focused on why capital, people and companies were gravitating to North Texas. Led by real estate veterans Roger Staubach with JLL and Steve Van Amburgh of KDC, the panel discussion did focus on “why North Texas.” But the discussion also included human resources and its impact on commercial real estate development.
A corporate campus is being built for JPMorgan Chase at mixed-use Legacy West in Plano, TX. Meanwhile, State Farm is already situated in its headquarters in Richardson, TX-based CityLine, a transit-oriented development. Even before ground broke on these campuses, both companies had a North Texas presence. And David Arena with JPMorgan Chase and Rod Hoff with State Farm indicated that the North Texas people were one of the main draws for their companies.
“When you come to Dallas, you can’t help but be impressed by the quality of the people here,” Arena said. “They’re earnest. They’re eager. They have a high EQ, a high IQ.” Added Hoff: “As we started looking to consolidate, we heard from folks in the area about how they enjoyed living and working here.”
Toyota Motor Sales had a different story; the company didn’t have a North Texas presence before building its headquarters adjacent to Legacy West. The decision to do so rested, in part, on talent availability, community diversity, and other corporations. “We have spouses, team members and family members coming to look for jobs,” said Toyota’s Cheryl Hughes. “We wanted there to be plenty of diverse places for them to go.”
The panelists agreed that leveraging amenities from a mixed-use campus was important in the decision. At Legacy West, Arena said, the employees have the best of both worlds. In fact, the live-work-pay aspects of CityLine and Legacy West are key for recruitment and retention. “They get workspaces with a lot of built-in amenities,” he said. “But right across the street, there is the urban feel, in a suburban context.” The panelists agreed that the live-work-play aspects of their corporate campuses appealed to employees. “California folks, especially, wanted to live close to the office,” Hughes observed. “This was as important as dining and wellness for them.”
Attracting and keeping employees is so important, human resources plays an important part when it comes to office site development. KDC’s Van Armbrugh said having human resources personnel in site-selection and development meetings has become more commonplace since the Great Recession’s aftermath. “There is a war for great talent,” he observed. “The driver of new facilities is to put employees in a place where they have an opportunity for recruitment.”
Hoff agreed, pointing out that the important equation was the people and “we were interested in understanding the environments our people will be in, and if they can be productive.”
Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky for the Urban Land Institute.
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