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Is GrowSouth headed in the right direction?

South Dallas speaks out about business development

Mike McGee | 8/15/2014, 12:31 p.m. | Updated on 8/15/2014, 6:20 p.m.
“It’s difficult for businesses, especially in the technology sector, to get some of that initial financing in the Dallas area ...
The Downtown Dallas skyline from Oak Cliff. The Dallas Examiner

The Dallas Examiner

The GrowSouth initiative – an effort aimed at rebuilding and rebranding Southern Dallas – has had some successes since its launch in 2012. Areas such as Trinity Groves and Fair Park are receiving more funding and redevelopment attention while Oak Cliff is seeing the revamping of numerous older buildings. Beyond GrowSouth, over the past decade many big box chain stores such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Home Depot have brought jobs and affordable goods to the Southern Sector of the city.

But it still isn’t enough say some residents and business professionals. There are complaints that consumers in Southern Dallas continue to face limited choices in how to spend their dollars when compared to other parts of the city. Others lament the proliferation of fast food and payday loan businesses in areas south of the Trinity River.

Nicole Robinson attended school and worked in Southern Dallas County for years. She believes the lack of business diversity is due in part to economic and geographic factors.

“When you’re talking about location for business I believe it’s most about the type of people that are in that location,” she expressed. “There is a reason why those high-end stores aren’t located in the southern area. [Local residents] just don’t have the money to spend on those types of things out there.”

Bradley Joyce, the founder of the tech entrepreneurial organization Launch DFW viewed the lack of business variety in Southern Dallas from the aspect of corporate development. One stumbling block to improving the business climate in Southern Dallas is the absence of high-risk capital investors.

“It’s difficult for businesses, especially in the technology sector, to get some of that initial financing in the Dallas area even though there’s a lot of money and a lot of capital,” Joyce offered.

Maverick investors willing to take great risk for potentially great reward usually stick to the oil and gas industry Texas is traditionally known for, he added.

Akiim DeShay agreed. The creator of the website Onlymoveforward.com, which is dedicated to issues in the Black community, DeShay stated, “There’s simply not enough capital being invested into Dallas development. Development of course would help significantly.”

Interestingly, the city itself confirms that there is a problem in finding investors willing to put money into South Dallas.

“When it comes to growth potential Southern Dallas has the land, the workforce, and the will,” a popular social media page states about the GrowSouth initiative. “However, it is missing one major component, investment capital.”

Joyce mentioned that The South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund was an often-overlooked option available for local entrepreneurs to use as a funding source. “There’s an area where they basically have money set aside and as a small business owner, if your business is located within that area, you can apply for grants and low interest loans for your small business.” He described the fund as “largely unknown” yet a great resource for budding south-based businesses. DeShay argued that such funds played a part in the solution but were not a cure.