In 2017, the Irving City Council adopted a five-year economic development strategic plan (EDSP) prepared by TIP Strategies. The plan’s vision centered on solidifying Irving’s status as a premier location for business relocation and expansion. While Irving boasted many accolades in subsequent years, including landing several corporate recruitment projects, the City still faced challenges with aging office space, maintaining regional competitiveness, and formalizing its business retention and expansion (BRE) efforts. The economic upheaval precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic made more urgent an assessment of the City’s progress and a reassessment of its plan for moving forward.
The Irving Economic Development Partnership engaged TIP in Spring 2020 to evaluate progress on the 2017 EDSP and prepare a BRE strategy. To review EDSP progress, TIP interviewed Irving economic development partners, reviewed update reports and implementation matrices, and prepared and presented findings. TIP’s evaluation prioritized actions for the remaining two years of plan implementation, including maintaining competitiveness in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, creating a strategy to deal with aging office space, embracing new growth sectors within target industries, pursuing strategic development projects, and building a more robust and proactive BRE program that encompasses all employers in Irving, large and small. These findings helped inform a separate strategy to support Irving’s businesses through the economic crisis surrounding COVID-19 and to help them adjust to new economic forces and opportunities as the economy rebounded. The COVID response project was informed by a survey of area employers, stakeholder roundtables, best practices research, and the national experience of the consulting team. The work resulted in six recommendations for supporting and connecting with Irving businesses: 1) formalize a business visitation and outreach program; 2) conduct a corporate engagement strategy; 3) set up tools and systems to support BRE efforts; 4) expand small business and entrepreneurial support; 5) coordinate with local, regional, and state workforce partners; and 6) dedicate resources to implement the BRE strategy.