Flower Mound's new economic development director looking to attract more hotels, office spaces

man standing in front of map
Ray Watson has worked in economic development for the last 20 years, helping towns and consulting with companies. (Samantha Van Dyke/Community Impact Newspaper)

Ray Watson has worked in economic development for the last 20 years, helping towns and consulting with companies. (Samantha Van Dyke/Community Impact Newspaper)

Ray Watson was announced as the town of Flower Mound’s new director of economic development in July and started in his new role in late August. He has worked in economic development for 20 years, both with other cities and towns as well as with companies as a consultant. Watson shared how he plans to help the town develop as he takes on this new role. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me a little bit about your background and experience in economic development.

I spent 10 years doing economic development for different cities and regional development groups. And then the last 10 years I’ve been in private sector consulting doing it for the companies’ side of it.

What does a director of economic development do?

I’m really in charge of promoting the [town’s] economic growth and stability. So, I’m working with companies that are existing to do business retention and expansion. ... It’s a means of helping companies to expand, grow or basically just stay healthy in the community. The other part of [the role] is attracting new businesses to the community that are not currently in the community. The main goal is to understand what’s available, property-wise, and then matching that up with the appropriate businesses.

How do you stay true to Flower Mound’s close-knit feel while also bringing in economic opportunities?

[I stay true to that by] basically just understanding what the community wants as a whole and what fits with the community. We’ve lived here for 10 years and understand the community and what makes it special.

What kind of businesses are you looking to bring to town?

The main [types of businesses] that we’re looking at are hotels and office spaces, and [we are] looking at corporate headquarter relocations to the area. One of the things that we have to deal with is that Flower Mound has become a very expensive place to live. So, therefore, if you want the benefit of companies coming here, then you’re going to have to have headquarter facilities in order for them to actually have employees living here. That’s kind of the direction we’re looking at right now. [We’re] also looking at high-end retail, restaurants, hotels and stuff like that that actually fit the area and make it a better place to be.

Are you actively seeking out businesses to bring to Flower Mound or do they often approach the town?

Both. There are companies that are coming here on their own and that want to be in the region, and then we also are actively seeking out companies.

How do you go about determining what businesses the town needs and how to attract them?

A lot of that is done by talking with the public at different events and meetings. The key is to be an ambassador for the city in the business world and to make sure that corporations understand that there’s an opportunity here for them to be involved in a really great community. [The goal is also] to put Flower Mound in front of those businesses.

Are there any areas of town that you are actively working to develop more?

Yes, [I am looking to develop] the Lakeside [Parkway]/[FM] 2499 corridor between Gerault [Road] and [the] Lakeside development, and then also the western edge of the [town] where the [Flower Mound] Ranch development is being proposed as well as out to [I-]35. The goal is to identify both corporate and retail [businesses] that fit the nature of that area out there that can be sustainable, both for the developers and for the community.

What does Flower Mound have to offer that surrounding towns and cities do not in terms of economic development opportunities?

I think for what we have left as far as developable land goes, we’re growing at the speed that we’re supposed to be growing at. When you look at what Flower Mound has to offer to a corporation or to a business, it really is a high-end net wealth per family unit, and just a really great place to be.
By Samantha Van Dyke
Samantha Van Dyke is Community Impact's DFW Metro Reporter. She previously served as managing editor of The Arkansas Traveler.


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