By Cribb Altman
For years, Dallas struggled to kick-start its technology sector. Outside of large data center requirements, many of the larger tech companies—such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook—always seemed to pick Austin as their major Texas tech hub.
However, that trend is starting to change, in a big way. Over the last few years, Dallas has emerged as a major player for technology corporations. Uber’s recent announcement that they selected Dallas as their largest location outside of San Francisco speaks volumes about the metroplex. It also underscores the transformation Dallas has made to be seen as a great home for tech companies. According to an Uber spokesperson, “Our decision was primarily driven by the depth of the Dallas labor market for the types of talent we are looking to recruit.”
While Dallas has started to attract plenty of outside attention from tech firms, it’s already part of the success story of a variety of local companies. For example, the fast-growing fintech firm Alkami is one of Dallas’ most successful startup stories. Founded in 2009, the company has since grown by 10-fold or more, achieving rankings on the Inc. 500 America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies and Deloitte Technology Fast 500 lists. And they’re doing it with primarily local tech talent.
Indeed, even before Uber sets down roots here, Dallas’ tech sector currently employs almost 350,000 workers and contributes $63 billion to the local economy, according to a CompTIA report. This is a sizeable increase from five years ago. Better yet, the city, our schools and our local leaders are making a commitment to continue to grow the tech workforce.
Recent examples of tech-centered initiatives include:
- At 18 Dallas ISD campuses, the school district started operating their P-Tech program, which allows students to earn up to 60 hours of college credit, tuition-free, while still in high school. The program specifically states that students can choose a career pathway and take courses that provide the academic, technical and workplace skills that are attractive to tech employers.
- The University of Texas at Dallas recently announced its Innovate(her) program, a free one-day program for middle school girls to learn about tech and finance and other STEM-related topics
- Southern Methodist University has partnered with Raytheon to launch a cybersecurity institute.
In addition to being attractive to large enterprise companies, Dallas has also started to draw a variety of start-ups that are prospering throughout the metroplex. Several coworking locations and incubators have popped up, allowing new companies to scale by keeping up-front expenses minimal. Dallas is now a top-five market for coworking, and we have shown that tech companies can prosper here, regardless of whether they are a start-up or a Fortune 500 firm.
While we have made great progress over the last few years, there is still a lot of room for growth. As Mayor Eric Johnson outlined in his recent State of Downtown address, he wants to continue to invest in Dallas residents instead of relying on importing tech talent. Part of that equation, Mayor Johnson said, is to tap into those living in Southern Dallas. Another part of the solution is to continually invest in our infrastructure and public transportation, while growing our pipeline of tech talent to ensure companies like Uber and Alkami have the local resources they need.
As Dallas truly enters the national stage in the eyes of the tech industry, it’s important for our local and state governments, educational institutions and other stakeholders to recognize the incredible value tech firms bring to our city. Encouraging technology education will help bolster our ever-expanding talent pool, helping us to compete with cities like Austin—and allowing outside businesses and individuals to see the true promise of Dallas.
Cribb Altman is a Senior Director within Cushman & Wakefield’s Tenant Representation Group and a member of the firm’s Technology Practice Group.