During a recent meeting, the Mesquite City Council received its quarterly activity report from the Economic Development Department.
The department presented an update to the report from the period of July through September. The city profile recorded the population has increased, the unemployment rate decreased to 8.1 percent, and home evaluation and income remained the same since reports from spring.
“People have asked because this has been an extraordinary period in time with COVID,” Director of Economic Development David Witcher said.
Some of the business highlights during the last quarter included the opening of Murphy's Express gas station, the Whataburger corporate offices located near Town East Boulevard and Best Choice Products. The city’s permit value, residential value and commercial value remained the same. Other project highlights included Office Depot’s relocation and the council’s approval for rezoning to the Huntington Properties Parkway project.
The Mesquite sales tax receipts increased to almost $11 million during its third quarter, which was more than the third quarter period during 2019.
“These numbers are strong considering what you have seen as far as disruption to our economic cycle, people having to stay home and changing retail habits,” Witcher said. “If you compare it to previous quarters, this is a very positive number.”
For the next period, the Economic Development Department has included trade shows, meetings, requests for quotation, requests for proposals and Chapter 380 agreements and business openings. For trade shows, these have been conducted through virtual mediums, and they have participated in staff and speaker presentations.
Recently, department representatives were able to attend the Costar mid-year conference. The department created videos, hosted meetings and held virtual tours for interested businesses.
“Some of these site tours have been in person, and a lot of tours for our warehouse distributions are going virtual where they will do videos of that location or do a customized video for companies that are looking,” Witcher said. “Things are getting specifically tailored to the need.”
In the future, the department would like to resume doing openings and ribbon cuttings for new businesses. During the pandemic, the department elected not to hold these events and have hoped to continue that once it is safer. The department has discussed virtual openings with the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce and Communications Department.
“I think that’s something we are going to look at and bring in during this new year. It would be something that the people would like to see and something that I miss personally,” Witcher said. “We are trying to look at a new and better way to do things.”
The department has included resources for businesses, employers and the workforce called Roadmap to Resources. These resources include information for job events, virtual recruitment, and job newsletters. The website received about 2,900 visitors, the videos have reached about 563 viewers and the newsletters have been opened about 7,137 times.
The department also worked on the ShopMesquite website and created a comprehensive list of businesses with the help of the community, staff and partnerships.
“It’s been an effective process and something we’ve risen to the occasion as far as the department and it’s been successful,” Witcher said. “We also had assistance through the library and had a lot of different people working to make this happen. Even if you didn’t see the final project, all that staff and work was happening during this period. Though it was in the background, it’s been very much front and center.”