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Celina Economic Development Corporation Defines Growth In Our City

Article by Alexis Jackson, Celina EDC Director

Photography by Holly Farrow

Originally published in Celina Lifestyle

“What is it about Celina that makes your city so different than all the other fast-growing suburbs?”  I get asked this question no less than a few times per week in dealing with economic development folks from around Texas and the United States. Instantaneously, conversations around guarding our heritage even as we grow, building wisely instead of wildly, and working hard to maintain a small-town charm while welcoming new local businesses inevitably emerge. I highlight with people from every piece of the development puzzle the one key to Celina’s deliberate strategy as we experience the unprecedented growth in which we find ourselves: we buck conventional economic development strategy and have determined that Celina will prioritize community development as the most important component of economic development. Simply put, we will define and determine how and with whom we will grow rather than letting our growth redefine and drive who we become. 

Colleagues argue that this is impossible. We simply share our model and why, for Celina, it makes the most sense.

First, when someone expresses interest in coming to Celina, we let them know that their first stop should be the Chamber of Commerce to fill out a membership packet. We then explain that they will be expected to partner with local schools, letting them know of the historic and beautiful relationship this community shares with its schools, students, and educators. We then make sure they know that our EDC views the economic development and incentivizing process more like a courtship than a shotgun wedding—we are never willing to rush into a partnership with any business that refuses to embrace the values of our hometown.

Secondly, we meet and dive deep into the vision and culture of their organization, no matter how small or large it may be. Our team evaluates the entire business, not just the bottom line. We want to know what they have added to the communities where they currently operate, and we want to hear how they plan to strengthen and deepen the community bond already shared here. Of course, we also want to know what they project to add to our sales tax base and how many locals they plan to employ. Most important, we resoundingly talk about all the people that have moved here because of the heart of Celina, and how no business, no matter its economic impact, will ever be allowed to change that. We are a place that has always esteemed faith, family, and community, and we plan to forever build upon those values.

Finally, we inform those wishing to build here that Celina is a place where businesses help businesses and where people help people. From our first introduction, to discussions with commercial brokers, to dreaming with developers, to sitting down with architects, engineers, designers, and builders, this EDC curates the process. We work throughout that process to determine if a partnership should be incentivized.  Again, it is not traditional economic development, but it is essential economic development if we are to guard what we have even as we grow. Our past, present, and future depend on it.

Some may be surprised by the way we economically develop and incentivize in Celina, but most have grown to appreciate it. Celina has tripled in population growth over the past decade, and there is no sign of an end to that multiplying effect. Knowing that, our response and our responsibility are crystal clear: we are going to work hard to guard and maintain the DNA of our community—one that prioritizes people—and from that, we know that the economics of the growth will follow. We believe our economics will stack up against any city in Texas, even as we guard the heart and soul of Celina.

Thank you Alexis Jackson, Director of Celina EDC, for your article submission. If you have an article for editorial consideration, please send to

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