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Quarterly: Spring 2020 - Ashvi Patel

Lewisville, Texas’ Commitment to a High Quality of Life for All

By Ashvi Patel

The City of Lewisville is led by a woman, who was named City Manager in May 2014 and has been in municipal government for over 25 years. She understands management and people. In her message to the community, she gives credit to everyone included with the vision plan: “Change and growth can be very exciting for a city, but positive change does not happen by accident. It happens as a result of many voices speaking up, being heard, and calling out for a shared vision that can unite a community. This is your plan, Lewisville, and I am privileged to have the chance to help bring it to life.”

Lewisville embraces DEI by openly stating that the city welcomes people of all ages, ethnicities, income levels, backgrounds, abilities, and interests.

Introduction to City of Lewisville, Texas

Lewisville cares about and values people, the community, and the environment. Lewisville takes its strategic planning very seriously. Everyone unites to think about how to improve the city in not just five years but over a 10-year period. This planning includes input from residents, staff of all levels, and various external committees.

The city has already started reviewing the upcoming 10-year plan for 2035 called, “What’s Next? A touchpoint in the present, and a look toward the future.” The city will be 100 years old in 2025.

By 2025, Lewisville aims to be a community characterized by diversity, connectivity, resource management, and growth.

The overall vision emphasizes each as follows:

  • Diversity – Lewisville should be an inclusive community that values and appeals to people of all ages, ethnicities, income levels, backgrounds, abilities, and interests.
  • Growth – Lewisville should offer choices that enable its people to connect effectively and that reinforce the community’s desired character.
  • Connection – Lewisville’s natural, human, energy, and capital assets should be the foundation for a distinctive, desirable, and efficiently managed sustainable community.
  • Resource Management – Lewisville should be a unique community that attracts and welcomes businesses and residents, positioned for growth and success.

The mission of the City of Lewisville is “to enhance the quality of life for our community and provide effective municipal service,” and the city’s slogan—“The Lewisville Way: Value | Serve | Build”—emphasizes valuing relationships and diversity in the community, serving the public, and creating positive change. City employees are so proud of the city’s mission that they know the mission statement by heart, proudly post stickers on their workstations or walls, and wear Lewisville T-shirts, even though it is not required.

Economic Development in Lewisville

Lewisville’s Economic Development department plays a huge part in “The Lewisville Way” by working diligently to maintain a high quality of life for residents and the community. Location plays a huge role when it comes to the success of a city because this drives traffic. Lewisville is a thriving economic hub in the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) region with superior infrastructure and easy access to all major highways. The city is only 20 minutes away from the international airport and approximately 20-30 minutes away from Dallas and other major cities. Lewisville has a strong and dynamic business community, with a robust blend of businesses from Fortune 500 companies to innovative start-ups.

There are two parts to economic development: internal and external. The city focuses heavily on internal by assisting and empowering companies to stay and expand in Lewisville, rather than the city going out and bringing new companies in. The community input and success plays a huge part in what economic development does because the city wants the citizens to be happy and satisfied.

The Lewisville mall has been on a decline for several years due to the ease of online shopping. The Sears closed its doors in 2018, leaving an empty space. Recently, a Korean investment firm reached out to the city to invest in that location. The firm passed the checklist and entered into an agreement with the city. Now there is an Asian grocery market with Asian eateries that takes up a portion of the mall. It drives a lot of traffic and is doing well. There are a variety of different types of Asian foods from noodles to pastries to boba tea available for purchase. It is not close to the food court at the mall, so it does not impact the other vendors.

The City’s diversity and inclusion goals benefit the community and the residents by allowing businesses such as this Korean market to come to the community and spice things up. The Asian market stays busy daily and has become a great place to hang out for people of all ages—this also drives traffic to the mall, helping small businesses survive. The market also brings international cuisine to the city, which attracts many residents from other cities.

Lewisville’s Economic Development: Incentives & Programs

The City of Lewisville is committed to economic growth and high-quality development in all parts of the city and to an ongoing improvement in the quality of life of its citizens. Keeping these objectives in mind, the city considers incentives on a case-by-case basis to stimulate economic growth. The city evaluates fiscal impacts and community and employment impacts to review whether (and what types of) jobs will be created.

Tax abatements are allowed only outside a designated Neighborhood Empowerment Zone. A company must meet two of the minimum requirements to be considered. This criterion is used to determine whether a public purpose exists and whether it is in the best interest of the City of Lewisville to offer an incentive to the applicant. Every incentive agreement that Lewisville enters into is considered an investment for the public benefit. Each incentive application is considered on its merit to the community at large and its potential to create economic effect.

The city’s designated Neighborhood Empowerment Zones were created to promote affordable housing and economic development and to increase the quality of social services, education, public safety, or rehabilitation.

The types of incentives available are

  • Development Free Reductions/Waivers, which are reduction or waivers of any city fees associated with the development of the project, excluding impact fees, and
  • Grants, which are used in accordance with Chapter 380 of the Texas Local Government Code.

An applicant submits their application online, and then the director of Economic Development speaks with the applicant and asks questions to validate whether the criteria have been met. The city reviews all the documentation to ensure the company is in compliance with the agreement before paying the incentive.

What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)?

  • Diversity: The condition that represents ALGA through different elements, which include, but are not limited to type of organization, region and shop size, age, experience, race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability.
  • Equity: A proactive approach to improve outcomes for all, free from historical bias or favoritism that recognizes structural differences and burdens.
  • Inclusion: Embracing diversity and welcoming all through extended access and opportunities.

Source: University of Florida DEI Committee Webpage

About the Author

Ashvi Patel runs the Internal Audit department for the City of Lewisville. Ashvi has four years of experience in working in local government and is new to the field with only two years of auditing under her belt. She graduated from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. She is beginning graduate school at Texas Women’s University to achieve her master’s in Business Administration. Ashvi is also a member of ALGA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.