On The Horizon 2019 - Page 11

STORY & PHOTOS BY LANDON FISHER ROCKWALL’S LOCAL BUSINESS BOOM CITY’S ECONOMY GROWS MORE DIVERSE WITH THRIVING SMALL-TOWN FLAIR C entral to the development of new business elsewhere in the county, business development within Rockwall itself has exploded in the last decade – trending with the expo- nentially rising population – and the growth is projected to continue for the foreseeable future. From 1990 to now, the population of Rockwall has grown by nearly 34,000 people, and the city’s changing business landscape reflects that. Rick Johnson, a member of the Rock- wall Economic Development Corpora- tion Board of Directors, says that while the REDC is always focused on increas- ing the city’s tax revenue and services offered through new businesses, it cer- tainly has some key ideas on what sorts of new businesses it would like to see. “Rockwall really needs more profes- sional office space, for one thing, and not simply offices in retail strips,” John- son said. “Think a nice building, not built simply to attract tenants for rent but to bring professional office jobs to Rockwall, which many people currently drive into Dallas for.” Johnson specifically mentioned the Trend Business Tower at the Harbor as one such example, though he noted that similar future developments need not be quite so prominent. “These kinds of office spaces could attract companies with high-paying jobs and for young professionals,” he said. “It would definitely be a draw for peo- ple who leave here for school but want to come back here to live and work.” At its heart, Johnson believes that what’s great about Rockwall is distinct from the qualities of surrounding larg- er cities, and it’s worth preserving. “What we offer here in Rockwall is a lot different than, say, Dallas or Plano,” Johnson said. “Rockwall really does have a small-town feel despite being one of the fastest-growing communities in the state.” Johnson, a native of Southern Cali- fornia, said he was amazed at the city’s and his neighbors’ hospitality when he first moved here. “When you get over Lake Ray Hub- bard, the pace just sort of ‘drops off,’” he said. “It starts to have more of a ‘country’ feel, things are more fami- ly-oriented, the crime rate is lower, and I had strangers saying hi to me on the street and new neighbors bringing us food.” So what, exactly, is ‘“on the horizon” for business development in Rockwall? Any discussion of new business in the city wouldn’t be complete without mentioning The Harbor, which has undergone a rebirth of sorts Pega since it was purchased by Pega- susAblon, a Dallas-based firm, two years ago. In that time, multiple vacancies in the Harbor retail center have been CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE Downtown is frequently filled with fun activities such as the Halloween season’s Scare on the Square event. SPRING 2019 On the Horizon 11