As I have witnessed Forney grow over the years, one of the most visible functions of our growth has been in retail and restaurants. Mustang Crossing Shopping Center, Kroger Marketplace and a variety of new shopping centers throughout our community has been a boon for our economy.
In 2010, I was grateful to be appointed as a member of the Forney Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) Board of Directors. Since 2015, I have had the responsibility of serving as the Board President for this organization. The FEDC was established by Forney voters in 1994, allowing the adoption of a half-cent sales tax for the purpose of attracting commercial development and supporting existing businesses.
Obviously, the City of Forney has changed quite a bit over the 24 years of the FEDC’s existence. However, one thing has remained the same – the FEDC’s commitment to recruiting quality commercial development. While recruiting retail in today’s market of Amazon and other online retailers can be difficult, we continue to “knock on doors” of restaurants and retail providers as we witness our skyrocketing population growth. We see incredible opportunity for this type of development in Forney. According to a retail leakage study commissioned by the FEDC in 2017, our market produces nearly $370 million in retail service demand each year. However, of this $370 million, nearly $210 million leaks out of our area to surrounding communities. FEDC Staff pound the pavement, hosting a plethora of tours with developers and retail site selectors throughout the year as well as visiting commercial brokerage firms in the Dallas area, promoting viable sites in Forney. The FEDC also participates in several retail trade shows every year at both the regional and national level. As I have witnessed through these trade shows, retailers and commercial brokers have site requirements with the following criteria:
• Large, growing population density and a strong daytime population
• Adequate household income with robust spending power
• Visible sites with high traffic counts
• “Shovel-ready” property with proper infrastructure in place
• Presence of surrounding retailers/restaurants nearby
• Available franchisee willing to invest in a market
I want to iterate that the FEDC understands the need for additional high-quality retail and dining options. Like you, I wish it was as easy as picking up the phone and telling a retailer or dining establishment they need to come to Forney. While we occasionally have this success, at the end of the day it comes down to numbers. If a retailer is going to enter a market, they want to make sure they don’t cannibalize their other nearby locations and ensure they’ll be successful from day one, as there are millions of dollars at stake.
As Forney continues to grow, we will be successful in attracting new retail and dining establishments. The FEDC Board believes the best way to attract retail is twofold: 1.) Concentrate on our community’s infrastructure needs and 2.) Recruit primary industry that creates quality jobs and increases our daytime population to feed the retail industry, a daily task for our staff. The FEDC is currently working to accomplish this, as we are partnering with the City of Forney, investing $1 million into the extension of Trail House Road to serve nearly 70 acres around the Kroger Marketplace for future retail and commercial development. We are also providing funding assistance for new water/sewer lines to serve 23 acres of future retail development at FM 548 and FM 1641. Soon, RaceTrac gas station will begin construction of a new facility at this intersection, extending infrastructure to make this 23-acre site shovel-ready. Once RaceTrac builds their store, I’m confident additional interest from other retailers will surround this property.
Exciting things are taking place in Forney and our future is bright. If you are interested in learning more about the work of the FEDC, I encourage you to visit our website at www.forneytexasedc.org. We have meetings open to the public that take place the 2nd Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Forney City Hall. Also, our FEDC Staff are a quick phone call away should you have any questions. They can be reached at (972) 564-5808. Thank you again for your interest in Forney and our commercial growth.