Mayor Jeff Cheney, Visit Frisco Executive Director Marla Roe, Frisco Fire Chief Mark Piland and Frisco Economic Development Corp. Vice President Jason Ford discussed the city's challenges and its future during a virtual State of the City event moderated by Frisco Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Tony Felker on July 14.
“Frisco has always been planned to be a great place to live, work and play, and people are going to value that even more,” Cheney said. “Brighter days are definitely ahead here. You can sense that optimism here in the community.”
The mayor said city leadership believes there is an opportunity for Frisco to come out of the pandemic “stronger than ever.” One of the opportunities being pursued to that end is attracting new corporations to the city.
Pipeline of projects
Ford said one of the first calls FEDC got in April was from a site selector for Fortune 500 companies. Ford said that selector believes Frisco could be an epicenter for major corporate consolidations and relocations over the next two years.
“We're actually seeing a healthy pipeline of prospects look in Frisco right now,” Ford said. “They're saying by the time they identify the property, procure it, design it, get the project up and open, hopefully we're going to be well past all of this.”
Cheney said COVID-19 has also prompted corporations to rethink their desires for things like public transportation and high-density living areas.
“When you start looking at the corporations, they're really starting to rethink the types of places they want to relocate their businesses to for the benefit of their employees,” he said. “We really think Frisco has a really unique opportunity coming out of this as far as a new level of corporate attraction here.”
In addition to possible corporate relocations, Ford said FEDC is also looking at ways to add to Frisco’s existing portfolio of local sports leagues.
“We just got off the phone this morning with one of the top eSports collaborating organizations in the country,” Ford said. “We're looking for ways to put Frisco on that stage as well.”
Tourism’s slow recovery
Roe said sports are likely to play an integral part in Frisco’s future successes, but the tourism industry will likely have a longer road to recovery than others in the city.
“People are wanting to get out and travel, and smaller communities [like Frisco], based on the research that we've seen, are going to be the beneficiary of that,” Roe said. “It may take a while, but we're hopeful. People still need to meet in person, and people still want to have fun.”
To help travelers feel safe about coming to the city, Roe said Visit Frisco plans to use the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s Star Facility Program, which provides outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation.
“Through a partnership with the EDC, we're going to be working with all of our hotels, museums, attractions and the sports teams to get them certified that Frisco is a safe place to come to,” Roe said. “This is going to allow us to not only help them get this certification and their Star Facility rating, but then we'll also be able to use that as a marketing tool.”
She said Visit Frisco’s upcoming marketing will focus on areas within driving distance of the city.
“We're not going to do a whole lot different,” Roe said. “We're just going to keep on our core mission and try to find as much business as we can for the city.”
The panelists were also asked about the statuses of the PGA of America headquarters and the developments south of US 380. Ford and Cheney said everything is still on track.
“We're going to see that part of our city really transform over the next five years very rapidly,” Cheney said.
‘Light at the end of the tunnel’
As the city’s emergency management coordinator, Piland said he believes Frisco will learn a lot from what it has gone through during the pandemic.
“I think some of the cleaning procedures that we've gone through [with] COVID[-19] are going to stay, and I think it's going to help us in flu season,” Piland said. “There's a lot of people that get sick and lose their lives every year to the flu. I think [those cleaning procedures] will certainly help reduce that.”
Piland said he believes the city has done well overall with its response to the pandemic, thanks in large part to Frisco’s recovery task force.
“I tell people all the time, ‘There's light at the end of the tunnel, but we're still in the tunnel,’” he said.