Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jess Paniszczyn
If you love music and guitars in particular, the Texas Music Expo presented at the Irving Convention Center was the place to be Oct. 12-14.
“We are marketing the Texas Music Expo as the ultimate music market place, which it is with guitars, records, memorabilia and live music,” said Thomas Kreason ‘TK,’ the event organizer. “Heritage Auctions is also here doing an appraisal fair. We have great marketplace items as well as celebrities signing autographs.
“Attendance has been a little sparse, because of the weather with 60 mile an hour winds, and the predicted hail storm. A lot of people are saying they will come tomorrow. We’ve had visitors all day, we just haven’t had a huge crowd at one time. This is the first time we’ve done this event, so next year word will get around.”
Unlike the majority of the expos and events held at the convention center which are here today and gone tomorrow, the expo and the organization it supports, the Texas Musicians Museum, hope to become long standing Irving institutions.
“This is one of many events that are being put on to help the Texas Musicians Museum, which is currently working on a deal to relocate to downtown Irving,” TK said. “We are working with the City, and hopefully we will be able to open sometime in the beginning of the year or by early spring. The City and most of the people with the City are real excited to have us. We are planning to do a lot of live music events at the museum.”
Formerly located in Waxahachie, the museum has been homeless since a fire last July. The museum boasts the world’s largest collection of Texas music history on display anywhere in the world. Its archives contain almost $1 million in stage outfits, record awards, recordings and other music related items.
Irving resident and blues artist, Leo Hull was one of the expo’s exhibiters.
“We’ve had a very nice day,” Hull said. “I’ve seen a lot of friends here at the show. We are just down here promoting our band and having a good time.”
Hull summed up his favorite part of the expo in a few words, “guitars, guitars, guitars and guitars. I wish more people would have known about the expo. This is the first year it has been held in Irving, and it will be held here again next year. Hopefully, we will have a bigger show next year.
“It would be an awesome thing if the Texas Musicians Museum were to come to Irving.”
Kim Pakula and her husband paused as they shopped for memorabilia.
“I love the expo,” Pakula said. “I am having a great time. I bought a poster of the Texas Jam 1979, because I was there the year this picture was taken.”
Last Updated on Monday, 22 October 2012 10:39
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
Offices of the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce were abuzz in conversation Oct. 1, as guests chatted in English, Spanish and French. A delegation from Québec, Canada paid a call on Irving businesses to initiate a new outlet for international economic development.
Jonathan Bazan, Development Services Director with the City of Irving said the initiative was two months in the planning.
“The Québec delegation is visiting Dallas/Ft. Worth, and they picked Irving because of our strong business community,” Bazan said. “I also think the presence of D/FW airport here in Irving helps facilitate any agreements or business between Irving businesses and Québec.
“A lot of local businesses are excited to talk to Canadian companies; a lot of Canadian companies are excited to talk to local businesses, so it’s a win-win for Irving.”
Miguel and Ruby Lopez represent local businesses hoping to expand their presence internationally. The couple lives in Irving and operates financial and construction businesses, primarily for the Hispanic community, under the MITO banner in Dallas and Addison.
“It’s a great opportunity we have through the Chamber to make connections for business development,” said Miguel Lopez, also an accomplished tenor who has sung opera and performed songs of his heritage at the Irving Arts Center.
“My focus is on integrating the Hispanic community into the North American community, and the world community,” he continued. “There is a large Hispanic community in Canada, but they don’t know about what we are doing here. They need more integration.
“The problem is that the Hispanic community is sort of closed. But the Chambers here have welcomed me. They helped me prepare a business plan. I have very little English, but they say to me, ‘Come on, Miguel, you can do this’.
“I was born in Mexico and my city there is a sister city to Irving. I have been in the United States now for ten years. My wife and daughter live here. Irving is already the big door to Texas. So this could represent development for us personally, for our family, for our culture, and for our business.”
Shortly after our conversation the Lopezes were grinning ear to ear as they met and conversed – in Spanish – with Paula Caldwell-St-Onge, the Consul General of Canada, a member of the delegation.
Caldwell-St-Onge kicked off the formal presentation as Louise Fortin, the Director of Economic Affairs for the Québec Government Office underscored the many similarities between North Texas and Québec.
“We are both powerhouses for aerospace; for biotech and life sciences; for the energy industries,” Fortin said. “We are prominent in IT and computer technologies, and in apparel and accessories.
“There is much we can do to help one another.”
Some information provided by the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce.
Last Updated on Monday, 22 October 2012 10:11
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Sissy Courtney
Irving Chamber of Commerce has a new partnership with Dallas Small Business Development Center (DSBDC), a free resource for Chamber members. Don Williams, Director of Economic Development for the Chamber, spoke about the partnership at the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber’s Women’s Alliance luncheon Oct. 17 at La Cima Club. The Center’s Government Contracting Department can help small businesses apply for government contracts.
“The government has the ability to purchase nearly anything you can imagine,” Williams said. “‘Government’ includes city government, county government, colleges, state government, and federal government.”
Government contracts are complex, detailed and sometimes confusing, and each agency has its own requirements, according to DSBDC. They said some businesses give up before getting started.
The Government Contracting Department of DSBDC has decades of experience in the government buying process, according to their brochure.
“We’re there to help eliminate the mystery and empower our small business clients to get their fair share of government business,” the brochure says. “Our skilled professional services have helped hundred of small businesses become effective prime contractors and subcontractors to larger companies.
is the largest buyer in the U.S.
buys over $1 trillion in products and services each year
buys all types of supplies and services, including construction
is a reliable, continuous source of business.”
DSBDC’s Government Contracting Department has experienced procurement specialists who can customize services for a company’s needs. They have access to thousands of government buying opportunities, and can give extensive assistance at each stage of the contracting process. They can also train businesses to comply with government requirements. And it is free.
Last Updated on Monday, 22 October 2012 10:10
Written by Phil Cerroni
The idea of using rail as an option to address highway congestion moves one step closer to reality this month as the Texas Department of Transportation kicks off a two-year study to explore the possibility of passenger rail service from Oklahoma City to South Texas.
The study will examine best possible options for the development of passenger trains that will connect metropolitan areas such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio, and compare different types of services such as existing Amtrak routes to a new high-speed rail system. The study will also explore funding options such as the potential for public-private partnerships.
“To truly address congestion, we must look at more than just building and expanding highways,” said John Barton TxDOT deputy executive director & chief engineer. “Passenger rail is a strategic component for the future of Texas transportation.”
The $14 million study is partially funded through a $5.6 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program. TxDOT is providing a 20 percent match.
“Rail has always been considered a good way to address congestion,” said Bill Glavin TxDOT’s rail division director executive director. “This study will help define the path forward for passenger rail along a heavily traveled corridor and provide the citizens of Texas with an alternative to congested highways.”
TxDOT has already held public meetings and met with citizens along the corridor to seek input on this study. Components of the study will include a prioritized business and financial plan to implement services identified through public involvement, and general environmental studies.
If built, the Oklahoma City to South Texas line could provide the foundation for a high-speed or higher performance rail system that would eventually connect all the major metropolitan areas in Texas.
Source: Texas Department of Transportation
Last Updated on Monday, 22 October 2012 10:10
Written by Phil Cerroni
By Alice Canham
For fifteen years, the City of Irving has contracted with David Dean of Dean International to serve as a consultant in developing its transportation policies; five years ago his firm was engaged to also take on responsibility for water policy development.
As the City seeks areas where the budget can be trimmed, the contract with Dean has come under scrutiny. For purposes of brevity, this story concentrates on the transportation efforts undertaken by Dean International. It is based on a presentation Dean made before one group of citizens on Oct. 11.
Dean told a gathering at Irving’s Community Bible Church that he was prepared to stack his results up against any criticism.
“Transportation is a top issue for all cities,” said Dean. “And Irving, with 40 percent of D/FW airport in its boundaries, is ground zero.
“Nearly two million vehicles travel your streets each day. So 15 years ago the City of Irving embarked on a pretty aggressive plan to address this situation.
“I think the accomplishments the city has made in that time have been nothing short of spectacular.”
The four major development projects under his charge: highways 183, 161, I-35 and the DART Orange Line - have totaled collectively $8.5 billion worth of surface transportation, Dean told his audience.
“These are projects that are largely NOT being paid for by Irving residents. They’re being paid for by county, regional, state and Federal funds that Irving has attracted to the area to accomplish these results. So, [the] professional services agreement between the City and Dean International involves those.”
As Dean described the growth of projects under his stewardship, he underscored that Irving has gained a national and international reputation through some of his interventions. In particular, the City’s annual Transportation Summit, now in its 15th year, has brought policymakers and the business community together in a way that no one could have predicted.
“It was less than four or five months after our contract started,” said Dean. “It wasn’t anywhere in our scope of work. But we quickly determined it would be better to do it in Irving than to go to Dallas, so Irving jumped on it. It wasn’t supposed to be anything annual.
“But something magical happened there. We accomplished a lot and developed a lot of good relationships. Afterwards everybody kept saying, ‘that was great – when are we doing it again?’ So we kept growing it.
“It’s become a very effective tool for Irving to articulate its transportation needs.”
It became a chip in Dean’s consulting services contract. While he was initially engaged to oversee the four major transportation projects, with reimbursement set at $480,000 per year, he agreed to a modification as suggested by then-Councilman Joe Philipp. The annual contract dropped from $480,000 to $240,000 and management of the summit was added with the understanding that underwriters would be recruited – by Dean – to offset costs. The City would take the first $235,000 raised through these efforts, and Dean was incentivized: the next $245,000 he raised was his.
As the summit grew, an additional $90,000 per year was added to help cover costs, and Dean’s contract was amended from $240,000 per year to $360,000 per year – where it stands now.
“Now, we are required to incur expenses for the City of Irving in furtherance of this,” said Dean. “We don’t make money on those expenses. Our policy is simply to ask for reimbursement of what our costs are.
“The other day, someone described it as we’re loaning money to the City. We’re incurring costs for their activities, and then they reimburse us for it.
“Someone could say, ‘look at what we paid Dean International’. Well, what does that mean? Reimbursing expenses? This $360,000 is the only money we make.”
He then turned to a chart which he said documented funding he’d secured for Irving’s four major transportation projects since 1997 - $2.5 billion in funding.
”You’ve got these projects in the queue, so to speak,” he told the group, ticking off the preparation steps he’d completed. “The locally-preferred alternatives have been identified. The community-preferred alternatives. The technical alternatives. We’ve been able to position the projects in the eyes of all the funders to be needed and meritorious, the environmental clearances have been secured, all the design work has been finished, so these projects are ready to go and they’ve been issued a ‘FONSI’ – ‘Finding of no significant impact’.
“If this were TV, we’d win an Emmy.”
Dean has been working with Ramiro Lopez, Director of Intergovernmental Services for the City, to finalize proposed changes to his contract, which has expired. He provided documents showing that most of his services would continue as they had in the past, but that in some cases, new responsibilities were to be added such as consulting on the City’s strategic plans. He would receive no increase in fees, Dean said, despite the added responsibilities. And according to Dean, the City has proposed yet another modification: changing to a two-year primary contract with yearlong options thereafter.
“It’s a five year contract, and they’ve locked in 1997 prices,” said Dean.
“There are people who want an RFP – a request for proposal,” Dean alleged. “Well, it’s illegal under Texas law to bid a professional services contract. This is highly specialized from a policy standpoint and very technical. A lot of it is based on knowledge of the subject matter and expertise, but also relationships, and knowledge of administrative, regulatory and political processes.
“It’s subjective. So how do you evaluate it? How about based on performance? We’ve had the good pleasure and the opportunity to deliver a high performance.”
The Irving City Council has taken the proposed changes to Dean’s contract under consideration.
Last Updated on Monday, 22 October 2012 10:09