Can Do Won’t Do City

by Wilton Hollins 

There was time in its history when Dallas was known as a ‘Can Do’ city.  In other words, there were no dreams too big or tasks too major that the city of Dallas could not overcome.

The mere fact that Dallas exists was due to this can do spirit.  There were no natural resources, major waterways, aesthetic beauty, or any of those entities that cause cities to sprout and grow into major tier one cities.  The soil is shifty and the heat is suicidal in the summer, but despite negatives Dallas has grown into a major thriving metropolis. 

The Greater Dallas Metropolitan area can now boast at being the fourth largest metro area in the nation; recently surpassing San Francisco/ San Jose.  This growth can only be attributed to the will of the citizens of Dallas.  But can Dallas be greater?  Can Dallas truly be the “shining star” of Texas?

Many have argued that our city has lost its Can Do spirit and replaced it with a Won’t Do spirit.  It has become bogged in racial strife, exclusionary backroom politics and a lack of vision. 

Does Dallas fully maximize and capitalize on the talents of all its citizens?  I’m afraid the new majority will say no.  Most forward thinking CEOs in corporate America will tell you that by fully embracing the talents and diversity of the workplace, it allows for a broader or targeted view which allows for greater market share opportunities.  Dallas city leaders should adopt this broad targeted view.

There are a number of young African Americans that grow up in Dallas and go on to receive graduate and post graduate degrees; but a large number of these educated Dallasites will move away, taking their knowledge and skills to such cities as Atlanta, Houston, Chicago and New York.  The Dallas’ job market is just as strong if not stronger than the aforementioned cities, so why not stay here?  Could the reasons be associated with not feeling accepted or being made to feel like a stranger in their hometown?

Many in the city will not view this migration of talent as an issue, or a loss of intellectual property.  But they are the same group that does not see the Cowboy’s stadium being built in Arlington as an issue; failing to develop south of the Trinity as an issue or more recently the hesitancy of building the much needed convention center hotel that would anchor growth on the south side of downtown as an issue.  These blinders directly affect the bottom line and results in hundreds of millions in loss revenue dollars for the city. 

If “open hearts, open minds and open doors” won’t bring us together, then maybe dollar signs can.

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