Mayor Mike Rawlings likens Dallas doubters to the gloomy and pessimistic gray donkey encountered in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books.
“I’m tired of the Eeyores,” the mayor told those gathered for a North Dallas Chamber of Commerce program billed as an “update on the state of the city.”
His message to the several hundred business leaders attending a January breakfast: Dallas residents have many reasons to celebrate the present and remain optimistic about tomorrow.
The event was held at the Doubletree by Hilton Campbell Centre on North Central Expressway.
People around the nation see Dallas differently now, the mayor said. “It’s not just the old TV show and Jerry Jones.”
Rawlings touted progress in south Dallas, growing support for the arts, and recent voter approval of a $1.05 billion bond program meant to address transportation, parks, infrastructure, libraries, economic development, and homelessness.
The property tax base grew to $118 billion for this fiscal year, up 7.18 percent from a year ago, and a continuation of the solid 6-plus percent growth Dallas has seen since 2012.
Businesses that come here, succeed here, Rawlings said. “Forget whether we get Amazon or not, we are good, and we can compete with anybody.”
His pitch to companies considering relocation or expansion to Dallas goes something like this: “If you don’t want your shareholders to make more money, don’t come here.”
He explained his point with a slide showing how the stocks of Dallas area businesses have outperformed those of the Standard & Poor 500 index since 1996.
S&P investors did very well, but if they had gone with Dallas businesses they could have done 40 to 50 percent better, Rawlings said.
Still, Dallas must address poverty or progress could be short lived, he said. “We still have work to do.”
Dallas must address English proficiency, teen pregnancy, transportation, and affordable child care, he said. “We have to figure out ways to get people who are hardworking up to the next level.”
The next city elections will come in 2019 and many new people will take office.
Rawlings urged voters to choose leaders who are focused on business, volunteerism, southern Dallas, and planning.
Consider carefully when casting that ballot, he said.
“Do we want to be entertained or governed?”