Collin, Denton pegged to soar
Forecast says they’ll have nation’s fastest economic growth
By TRACY M. COOK Staff Writer

Denton and Collin counties are projected to be the nation’s fastest-growing economies over the next five years, according to Oxford Economics.

Of the top six U.S. counties, four are in Texas: Joining Denton and Collin are Montgomery (ranked third) and Fort Bend (sixth).

The forecast is for GDP growth through 2021. The same study projects U.S. economic growth to land at a steady 2 percent this year and next year.

Over the next five years, America’s fastest-growing cities will be in “sprawling, suburban metro areas,” described as places like Austin, according to the report from the independent global advisory firm headquartered in Oxford, England.

That’s because Americans are leaving high-cost, densely populated cities in search of cheaper areas with strong job growth. Within Texas, people are leaving Dallas for the suburbs. From 2009 through 2013, Dallas County lost more than 27,000 people to other Texas counties, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The Census Bureau tracks net migration and immigration, which is the difference between the number of people moving into a county and the number of people moving out.

The figure includes people migrating between Texas counties, between a Texas county and another U.S. state, or between a Texas county and another nation.

Streaming in

Denton County ranked third and Collin County 10th in net migration and immigration from 2009 through 2013.

In that time, Denton County gained 23,000 people and Collin County 8,800. Conversely, Dallas County saw more than 6,300 people leave.

As of last year, both Denton and Collin counties had seen a 20 percent explosion in population since April 2010, according to Census Bureau data.

The Oxford Economics ranking is a testimony to the region’s economic dynamism, said Bud Weinstein, an economist at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. It also reflects the number of people and companies that have moved or relocated to or expanded in Denton and Collin counties.

Of the companies on this year’s Fortune 500 list, 22 are based in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Other major employers also are expanding their local footprints.

One of those companies, Liberty Mutual Insurance, is relocating employees to Plano’s Legacy West development.

The Japanese automaker Toyota in July opened its new North American headquarters in Plano, where it will employ more than 4,000 people.


Business expansion also is occurring in Denton County, said Michael Carroll, director of the Economics Research Group at the University of North Texas. Denton’s two major universities, UNT and Texas Woman’s University, create both a supply of future workers and a demand for goods and services, which Carroll said may be part of the reason no industry accounts for more than 20 percent of the local economy.

Together, the universities combine for more than 50,000 students in Denton, which is also home of large companies such as Peterbilt Motors Co. and Sally Beauty Supply.

Denton and Collin counties are also getting a boost from relocations by smaller companies whose moves may not make headlines. Those include manufacturing companies that are finding it impossible to turn a profit in California, New York and Illinois, in part because of regulations and taxes, Weinstein said.

And once they’re here, they have a multiplier effect on the economy. In Toyota’s case, many of its suppliers relocated with it. That means more offices opened and more jobs were filled. Workers earn wages that are then put back into the local economy, supporting restaurants, stores, movie theaters, sports venues and the like.

These companies diversify the area’s economic base, as they trend toward high-value goods and services and away from traditional suburban activity like fast-food chains and shopping malls. The progression toward diversification generates wealth, setting off a chain of results that often includes higher property values, according to the study.

A combination of pushand-pull factors has resulted in net migration to the North Texas suburbs, including business conditions, tax laws and airport access. But for employees, the perks extend beyond business-related incentives.

Sports and entertainment developments are a draw, too, as are top-notch school districts in those counties.

“They’re moving here because of high taxes, eroding quality of life, because of very high real estate costs — particularly for single-family homes — the heavy hand of regulation, terrible traffic conditions” elsewhere, Weinstein said of push factors. “They come to Texas. There’s a lighter tax burden. It’s easier to get around. They can afford to buy a home.”

Many of the fastest-growing counties are home to suburbs of highly productive cities, according to the report.

Last year, Forbes ranked Dallas as the sixth-best place nationally for job growth.

Twitter: @tmcook23