Dallas Morning News, The (TX

Dallas Morning News, The (TX)
April 16, 2009
Southern Dallas 101
Inland Port saga a valuable lesson about restraint
Edition: FIRST
Page: 12A
Article Text:
The complex and sordid saga of the Dallas Logistics Hub, recounted Sunday by Dallas Morning News
reporters Kevin Krause and Gromer Jeffers Jr., serves as a cautionary tale for business owners,
politicians and anyone else seeking to improve the investment climate in southern Dallas. This sad story
demonstrates how badly things can go wrong when people fail to measure their words, misjudge motives
and reach hasty conclusions.
Southern Dallas has a long history of racial distrust perpetuated by decades of neglect and skewed
business investment in white-dominated areas of northern Dallas.
Suspicions run high among many in southern Dallas that outside investors, particularly from white-owned
companies, only want to exploit workers and reap big profits without giving something back to the
community. Many are eager to prove that they, too, can launch big projects and are loath to let outsiders
do what they can do themselves.
For the northern business establishment, southern Dallas is too often demonized as a cauldron of corrupt
schemers intent on "shaking down" outside investors. A few cases of real corrupt behavior have led to
broad-sweep assumptions, further dampening the willingness to invest there.
This is the buzz saw that California developer Richard Allen walked into in 2005 when he started
purchasing 6,000 acres of property to launch the Dallas Logistics Hub, or Inter! national Inland Port,
where Interstates 20 and 45 intersect. He sought help from black community leaders to navigate these
turbulent waters, but a series of missteps and misplaced words soured the atmosphere.
One side invoked references to a shakedown, while the other deployed the race card. Politicians
meddled, putting at risk a multibillion-dollar project and the tens of thousands of jobs it promised to
create. Courts and lawyers are now involved. What a mess.
For the sake of southern Dallas, the Inland Port saga should be required reading in business schools, in
community leadership forums and among anyone contemplating new ventures there.
Going forward, white-dominated companies must keep foremost in mind the unique history of southern
Dallas. It is not simply a great business opportunity to be exploited for maximum profit. Any successful
business plan must include a vision of how outside investment can not only add jobs but also create
opportunities f! or local business to participate - and profit.
Southern ! Dallas a ctivists and politicians must understand that the race card is an extremely powerful
and destructive tool. Misused, it can destroy an already fragile investment climate - inflicting far greater
damage than good on the community.
This ongoing tangle provides an excellent lesson in how not to bridge the north-south gap.
READ previous commentary on Dallas' north-south gap. dallasnews.com/opinion /northsouth
MAP(S): Dallas Logistics Hub.
Copyright 2009 The Dallas Morning News
Record Number: 1181257470

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