Recently, there have been several success stories in our East Dallas economic development efforts. Residents are moving into Gaston Yard Apartments on Gaston. The new Fiesta grocery store at Ross and Henderson is bursting with customers. Great films are now showing at the new Sony Cityplace theater on Haskell.

However, we cannot rest on our successes. We need to plan for the future with common goals and objectives:

“East Dallas, as defined by North Central Expressway, LBJ Freeway and Interstate 30, is and will continue to be recognized as a residential and business community where quality of life is available for people who choose to make East Dallas their home and their place of business.

“Changing demographics composition in East Dallas neighborhoods will continue to be a source of pride and is regarded as a strong asset.

“Public/private partnerships compliment each other and guide East Dallas as a community.

“East Dallas continues to be an area of the City of Dallas where people will want to live, work, and reinvest their time, energy and money.”

That is the vision statement that has resulted from a series of meetings with people throughout our area who are interested in the preparation of an East Dallas Strategic Plan for Economic Development.

Like many parts of Dallas, East Dallas has had its share of declining tax base, loss of retail establishments and increased demands for services.

To help address these issues, City Manager John Ware implemented the “City Service Team” approach recently. High-level decision-makers from a number of City departments are assigned to service teams in six geographical areas of the City. Each service team views its area as a small city and targets efforts to meet the specific needs of its area.

The Northeast Service Team, which deals with an area similar to that served by the East Dallas Chamber of Commerce, approached the Chamber in 1995 to work together. The Chamber has organized the East Dallas Alliance for Economic Development.

Approximately 30 citizens, representing a broad cross-section of those living and working in East Dallas, have attended the meetings; and this group has identified a “short list” of concerns for the area in general and for neighborhoods. The group identified three extremely important issues: education and schools, business development/retention, and a safe and clean environment (which includes both code enforcement and police effectiveness issues).

The group expects to complete detailed implementation timetables (focusing on action steps for the next 1, 3 and 5 years) for specific strategies to these issues within the next 60 days.

I applaud these East Dallas residents, business owners and educators, as well as our City staff, for initiating a program to address the economic development needs of the East Dallas community. If you are interested in finding out more about this effort, please contact Don Wilson, economic alliance chair, at 698-7639.

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