The North Texas Commission recently hosted its sold-out member luncheon with 700 Texans in attendance, which included five representatives from across Ellis County. It marked the most representation Ellis County has ever had.

Along with big-name business leaders and government entities was a table sponsored by the law firm Carrington Coleman, where Midlothian resident Cathy Altman practices. Altman also chairs the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce board and has served as a board member for the North Texas Commission for the past three years.

It was her idea to invite business and government leaders from Ellis County to the luncheon on Sept. 18 at the Irving Convention Center. Those who had a seat at the table included State Representative John Wray, Todd Little, the president with Allied Business Services Inc.; Jennifer Wilson, the chief culture officer for Life School; and Steve Rows, who owns Paragon Payroll.

Altman shared she felt it is important for Ellis County residents to have a voice in the commission.

“I think a lot of the economic development and advocacy issues that businesses, cities and counties in North Texas face are very similar. But I think Ellis County, having a more rural setting than some of the more denser populated areas of North Texas, we have different issues and values,” Altman said.

From the outside looking in, Little acknowledged that some Ellis County resident might not support the North Texas Commission in fear that it could alter the culture already established.

“Some people feel like the North Texas Commission is a threat to Ellis County in the sense that our lifestyles are different from DFW,” Little said. “From a leadership standpoint, I feel like it’s important to be involved.”

Little admitted he felt like a small fish in a big pond sitting next to highly distinguished business leaders. He then assured Ellis County has a lot to offer to the commission and should be considered an asset.

First, he noted the undeveloped land and secondly, the infrastructure that brings travelers through Ellis County, such as, Interstate 35, Interstate 45, Highway 67, U.S. Highway 287, the extension of U.S. Highway 360 and, in the future, Loop 9.

Wray echoed the thoughts and described Ellis County as a “logistical hub” of highway structures that allow steady traffic through the area, “which provides us opportunities for distribution centers and that type of thing.”

“We are a portion of the DFW Metropolitan Statistical Area, Ellis County is one of those 14 counties — Ellis County is the fifth fastest growing county out of those 14 counties,” Wray explained.

Wray emphasized the need to think regionally. NTC was initially established to advertise jobs for Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in 1971 and, over time, the mission expanded to advocate for jobs, as well as economic development all over DFW. Wray pointed the North Texas region serves as a source of employment for Ellis County residents.

"A large number of the people that live in Ellis County work in the Metroplex," Wray added.

MAKE ELLIS COUNTY RELEVANT

Relevancy was a common word brought up by Ellis County leaders who attended the luncheon. Wilson, with Life School, mentioned the district's goal is to prepare students for college, careers and life.

“Being involved in organizations like the North Texas Commission helps our school stay relevant when it comes to the skills and knowledge our students need to achieve our goal of preparing them for their future,” Wilson said.

Little noted one primary take-back form the luncheon was a broader perspective. “It’s about bringing ideas and perspective to the table that is much bigger than the local area,” Little said. “It forces you to think outside of that box.”

He explained that, by listening and offering ideas, Ellis County can play a role and will be relevant in the North Texas puzzle.

“It then brings up the thought of where do we want to fit in this regional engine because it is important whether we want to fit in or not," Little continued. "Whether we want to fit in or not, we are part of this DFW Metroplex.”

ABOUT NORTH TEXAS COMMISSION

The North Texas region is a 13-county region comprised of Wise, Parker, Hood, Somervell, Denton, Tarrant, Johnson, Collin, Dallas, Ellis, Hunt, Rockwall, Kaufman Counties. This portion of Texas consists of 7.4 million people and counting — with one new person added every 3.6 minutes, according to Kimberly Walton, the vice president of communications for NTC.

Since the organization was established, the population of the North Texas region has grown by five million. Geographically, North Texas is 9,000 square miles. The website states that the North Texas region is the fourth fastest growing region in the United States.

Walton elaborated on the importance of involvement from officials and leaders from every county that makes up the region.

"It’s important for everyone in the region to be an active citizen of North Texas, especially when it comes to elections and being counted in the 2020 Census. We’re at a very critical time for our region’s future, and everyone needs to let their voices be heard at the polls, and be counted in the Census."

"It’s important to have all voices represented to ensure that we’re growing in the right direction, but also to share best practices," Walton continued. "Someone in another city or county may be experiencing a challenge, and someone in Ellis County might have a solution."

For more information on the North Texas Commission, visit, http://ntc-dfw.org/.

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AShley Ford| @aford_news | 469-517-1450