Dallas will never overcome the economic divide between the northern and southern parts of the city without improving educational opportunities and getting businesses to invest there, community leaders said Tuesday.
“The money’s there, the influence is there, now we’ve got to come up with the ideas and coalesce around them and make them happen,” said Mayor Mike Rawlings. “Someone call the mayor and let’s do this.”
Rawlings sat on a panel with Bishop T. D. Jakes, founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House; Liz Cedillo-Pereira, a Dallas immigration lawyer; and Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, at “Come Together: Dallas Leaders on Economic Development, Education and Opportunity.” The event was sponsored by The Dallas Morning News.
Rawlings said education, specifically providing a pre-K program for every Dallas child, needs to be a rallying point for the city. He hopes Dallas can follow the example San Antonio set when it put money into early education rather than a light rail system.
“I’m feeling great about this city for the next six years, it’s the next 20 I’m starting to get worried about,” he said.
Rawlings urged improved education opportunities, especially in southern Dallas, to prepare residents for the type of jobs that could move to the area. He cited the jobs created by AT&T’s expansion in downtown Dallas last spring that he said were largely filled by people from outside of Dallas.
And for businesses to relocate to southern Dallas, the city needs to offer economic incentives, Jakes said.
“We purposefully produce films in areas that have tax incentives,” said Jakes, who owns a production company. “With the incentive commitment comes a commitment … that a certain amount of their citizens have to be hired in order to do the job. Why could we not do the same thing here in Dallas?”
Cedillo-Pereira responded, “We need to find a way to recruit T.D. Jakes’ productions to Dallas.”
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SOURCE: Dallas News
Claire Z. Cardona