If there’s one thing that you should know about McKinney, it’s that it is in investing in its future. Centered in one of the most pro-business areas of the nation, the community offers a business environment that is second to none. In fact, as recently as 2018, WalletHub named McKinney fifth in the nation in local economic growth.
The city is committed to planning, partnering, and progress. Every project, every investment, every job is important to not only the City of McKinney but also those invested in the success of the area.
“We’re a rapid-growth community,” says Barry Shelton, Assistant City Manager with the City of McKinney. “Not only do we have an active and business friendly government, but everyone – from city officials to business leaders – is on the same page, pushing in the right direction. Everyone has the same vision.”
The city takes a balanced approach to economic development, focusing on small businesses, large commercial companies, and industrial development.
The largest city (when talking in terms of square miles) in Collin County, McKinney has the right ingredients for long-term prosperity. Its land, location, infrastructure, people, and quality of life make the city the clear choice for commercial investment.
A county-wide labor force of roughly 500,000 provides employers with a broad base for hiring. With a high school graduation rate of 92 percent, and 45 percent of graduates achieving a bachelor’s degree or higher, McKinney provides a talented employee base.
It’s no surprise McKinney is growing. New residents moved to McKinney at an explosive rate between 2000 and 2020, increasing the population by a remarkable 239 percent. The sixth fastest growing city in the nation 2017-2018 according to the United States Census, McKinney offers a sought-after location and lifestyle.
With home sale prices lower than surrounding communities, it’s clear why skilled manpower chooses McKinney. In 2017, WalletHub.com rated McKinney the second-best real estate market in the country. A Collin County median household income of $113,806 (U.S. Census), $38,00 above the estimated national median, underscores this ranking.
Combining a little bit of everything – from median household income to the real estate market and the low crime rate, a 2019 Livability.com study ranked McKinney well within its top 100 of best places to live in the U.S.
Business is booming. Companies large and small are moving to McKinney or expanding existing locations, bringing, and creating jobs. City government has offered a welcoming atmosphere for new and existing businesses. As a result, big companies have infused the area with thousands of jobs in fields such as technology, construction, manufacturing, healthcare, and aviation.
“What we’ve learned is that companies want to be where the action is. In other words, they want to be where the eateries and drinkeries are,” said Shelton, reflecting on why the city – in the past – lost out on landing a few Fortune 500 companies. “Rather than the CEO determining what was best, it was the HR department determining where to relocate because they were tasked with recruiting the best and the brightest. So we’ve been working over the last five years to create that kind of environment.”
Because of that focus on creating places where “the action is,” places like Hub 121 and District 121 make McKinney an attractive place to move to for companies looking to relocate to North Texas.
But the City isn’t stopping there. The revitalization of the east side – east of Highway 5 – has already begun with a new city hall.
“We think it can really prime the pump to create an exciting district,” said Shelton. “The goal is to shine the light on the east side and utilize that to the benefit of the entire city and neighborhoods around that area.”
Programs at the state and local level are inherently pro-business. Economic development is a central component to the City’s strategic plan. The McKinney Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) works to sustain economic vitality both through direct support of primary businesses and collaboration with business, industry, and community partners.
McKinney has an impressive portfolio of businesses of all types and sizes. Companies making the city their home include Dynacraft, TYG Products LP, Hisun Motors, Independent Financial, TRAXXAS, KVP International, RPM xConstruction, and more. Another thriving industry in McKinney is healthcare. Four of the largest private employers are Baylor Scott & White Medical Center McKinney, Medical City McKinney, Raytheon, and Globe Life.
Economic development is the engine that keeps McKinney running. That vitality is maintained by constant change to meet the needs of the business community. To achieve that mission, MEDC has undergone a strategic rebranding. A sub-brand of the City, MEDC offers a direct link to businesses seeking to join in McKinney’s prosperity.
“We looked at how we could stay in concert with the City but differentiate ourselves. Our goal is to showcase McKinney in a business focused way, what employers are looking for. We wanted a more modern feel to attract the industries the City wants to recruit,” says Peter Tokar, president and CEO of MEDC.
Dovetailing with McKinney’s theme “Unique by Nature,” MEDC touts the tag “Unique McKinney.” Updated, contemporary marketing and a responsive website reflect a pro-business approach, merging the mission of both entities.
“The corporate logo mirrored the City logo. We wanted to stand out in look and feel,” Tokar says.
This progressive direction is reflected in MEDC’s efforts to build business. Maximizing the potential of both existing business and new business drives economic and employment growth.
“We developed a new program of business retention and expansion,” says Tokar, who notes 75 percent of growth is derived from existing businesses.
Expansions include Raytheon’s new advanced manufacturing facility slated to bring 500 jobs to the city. The 200,000-square-foot facility will be built at Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems headquarters. The MEDC has approved a support package and incentive agreement to assist in funding the project.
Through a study created by the University of North Texas Economic Research Group, Raytheon cites an impact of $4.8 billion on the Texas economy. A top employer in McKinney, Raytheon employs 3,000 at its existing facility.
Independent Financial, one of the largest banks headquartered in Texas, recently moved into a new HQ in the Craig Ranch development just off State Highway 121 in McKinney. It’s just the first phase of a campus that could eventually house as many as 1,200 workers. For now, about 400 employees call that their home base.
A mixed-use development called Hub 121 is home to a new corporate office for wholesale roofing supply company SRS Distribution. The company says it will bring 160 new jobs over the next 10 years. The City and MEDC offered economic incentives to SRS and developer KDC. In addition, incentives will be offered for employees hired at a salary greater than $50,000, with higher incentives for higher salaried positions.
Dynacraft, a PACCAR company, opened an advanced truck manufacturing facility October 2018, investing $31 million in the 184,000-square-foot building. The facility will bring roughly 200 jobs to the city.
Another priority is to attract new business to complement the city’s existing industries, bring additional jobs, and strengthen the city’s economy. McKinney, with its exciting urban environment, low cost of living, and a well-educated workforce, is a sought-after location for companies looking to relocate. Yet the right business mix is important to strategic growth.
“We look at outbound recruitment of new business. We’re looking for the right type of business that’s a good fit for McKinney. I’m very big on smart development. Are they a high skilled, high wage business?” Tokar says.
Cirrus Aircraft is just such a company. The maker of personal aircraft has plans to open a new facility at McKinney National Airport that offers flight training, maintenance, and aircraft management.
The facility will provide a world-class customer experience for Cirrus aircraft owners in the Dallas metroplex.
“There’s no shortage of projects. We have a pipeline of projects that are confidential,” Tokar says.
To support this progress and maintain the area’s economic advantage, McKinney and its local partners are working to provide an outstanding transportation framework. A vital asset to McKinney and its corporate partners is McKinney National Airport. Owned by the City since 1979, the airport services an average 426 takeoffs and landings each day.
McKinney National is the North Texas airport of choice for business and personal aviation transportation. With an influx of companies expanding into McKinney, air traffic has increased dramatically bringing with it the need for additional facilities and amenities.
“The airport is well positioned for growth and servicing in the aviation market. The City has understood what they have and has a strategic priority to maximize the airport,” says Kenneth Carley, airport director of McKinney National Airport.
In May of 2019, the airport completed construction on a new 40,000-square-foot hangar. The structure has space to store up to four Gulfstream G-550 aircraft, contains office spaces ready for tenant finish out and provides eight fully enclosed garage spaces for car storage. The hanger is already 80 percent leased.
“We have monthly demand for hanger space. We can’t build hanger space fast enough,” Carley says.
Current key leaseholders of existing hanger space are Toyota North America and Texas Instruments. A suite of itinerant users also takes advantage of McKinney National Airport. Among these are YUM! Brands, State Farm Insurance, Target, Walmart, Sherwin Williams, Raytheon, STIHL, and the United States Army.
Under construction is McKinney Air Center, a 17,000-square-foot fixed base operator (FBO) terminal. When completed, the FBO will include two conference rooms, pilot lounge, flight-planning room, training room, media room, refreshment center, on-site car rental, outdoor lounge, and porte-cochere entryway.
“It provides commercial customers with amenities that they expect. There will be a comfortable place for passengers to sit and wait, and a large, better flight planning room and rest area for pilots,” says Carley.
Both the new hanger and terminal total a $16 million project established under a public-private partnership with aviation real estate developer Western LLC.
McKinney’s commitment to the airport, pro-business climate, and rapid economic growth are factors that led Cirrus Aircraft to come to McKinney National Airport. Cirrus conducted a nationwide search to identify the most ideal location for its first factory-direct satellite Cirrus Services facility. Cirrus says that McKinney National offered a great location and a business-friendly environment. So friendly, in fact, that Cirrus already plans on expanding their operation in McKinney
“Since 2013, the City has invested $70 million in the airport. Cirrus wanted to be in the region. What led them here was proximity to folks that own their aircraft and a location that had great landside and airside access. MEDC gave them a great proposal for participating,” Carley says.
The economic impact of McKinney National Airport is undeniable.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) 2018 Texas Aviation Economic Impact study, the airport now has a $212 million impact on the area, up from $44 million in 2011, a 382 percent increase. The airport and FBO are lucrative assets that differentiate McKinney from other cities in Collin County.
“We’re producing ad valorem tax revenue. We’re not taking any general fund support from the City. We’re in the black,” says Carley.
In addition, the airport continues to be recognized by pilots across the country. In 2018, McKinney Air Center earned a prestigious best in the nation designation in the Pilots’ Choice Awards by FltPlan.com. It was the third consecutive year it had won the award and the fifth win overall for the FBO.
The airport is not resting on its laurels. Future plans call for lengthening its runways.
“We’re doing preliminary design work now. We expect construction to begin in late 2021,” Carley says.
Also being planned is a new customs facility.
“We’re tracking international operations. Customs is a growth trend. We’re planning to construct a standalone customs facility. That will be a critical piece of infrastructure,” says Carley.
Diversified and strategic economic development planning has led to McKinney becoming a leader in the commercial market. It’s through this pro-business direction that McKinney has become a North Texas success story.