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The Pros of Public-Private Partnerships

Dallas-Ft. Worth

From the popular Stonebriar Centre Mall to the Dallas Cowboys corporate world HQ, the City of Frisco didn’t just get lucky roping in these cash cows. Frisco Economic Development Corp prez Jim Gandy highlights how public-private partnerships paved the way.

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1) Pooling resources

Teaming up with private entities opens up an opportunity to pool resources. Investing public dollars is no different than investing private dollars, he says (dollars tend to be worth the same amount regardless of the wallet they're in), the key is to look at the projected return over a set period of time. Frisco has done several significant collaborative partnerships, Jim tells us, with the Cowboys project being the largest one from the public investment side ($115M combined from city entities and the Frisco ISD). Every project is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure it makes good economic sense for the public side to make the investment of tax dollars.

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2) Economic impact

Jim says city leaders look at projected benefits for the city from increased property tax revenues or increased sales tax revenues to the creation of direct and indirect jobs. Often, it’s difficult to measure the benefits, which can include branding, notoriety, and advertising that comes to the region from the news these projects generate, Jim tells us. There’s a lot of media exposure when the deals are announced; and that’s hard to put a total dollar value on. (Otherwise the only way you get on the news is to photobomb weather reporters.)

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3) Skin in the game

There’s specific criteria to meet including the obvious mutual interest on both sides, Jim says. Once a project has been evaluated and determined to be an asset to the community both for the short- and long-term, the private side must be willing to make some significant investments in the deal. “We want them have some skin in the game,” Jim says. Since Jim arrived in ’95 (and even before that), Frisco leaders have been working together in a collaborative and cooperative way with private entities, he says. That groundwork laid the foundation for something that is part of the city’s culture. Years later, those same relationships are still in place and continue to do big projects.

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Some of the most notable public/private partnerships in Frisco: Stonebriar Centre (partnership between the City, Frisco EDC, the Frisco Community Development Corp, and General Growth Properties), Dr Pepper Ballpark (with the same Frisco entities as well as Frisco ISD and the Texas Rangers and then-owner Tom Hicks. It led into an additional partnership with Dr Pepper Arena for the ice rinks); the renamed Toyota Stadium and the soccer fields with it (with Hunt Sports Group, the city entities, FISD and Collin County), and the most recent project is a multi-use events center that will host a variety of city and school events, and serve as the Dallas Cowboys training facility. It also includes the relo of the Cowboys HQ. (Now if they could only develop a defense.) That's Frisco mayor Maher Maso giving Cowboys owner Jerry Jones a thumbs up.