At the Collin County Business Alliance’s 11th Anniversary Luncheon, the Leadership Award winner was announced and Collin County mayors discussed what the future of their cities looks like.
CCBA Chairman Sanjeev Yazhnik presented Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College, as the recipient of the Leadership Award. Dr. Sorrell spoke about Paul Quinn’s historical black heritage and also discussed the future goal of expanding urban colleges around the world. He said it would be done to help eliminate intergenerational poverty. Dr. Sorrell also explained how Collin County welcomed Paul Quinn and the college mission, thanking the CCBA for their hospitality. Dr. Sorrell noted that people were initially hesitant about expanding the college to Collin County.
“And what they meant in a very less sophisticated way is that there was no place for us here,” Dr. Sorrell said. “And let me tell you how wrong they were.
Dr. Sorrell explained that Collin County has resurrected the American Dream for a college with 75% of students enrolled in the Pell Grant, that Collin County has welcomed and assisted an underserved community and institution.
“We were welcomed here with open arms, our students were accepted,” he continued. “What was so important about the way you greeted them was that it allowed them to see themselves differently than they were taught to see themselves.”
Like Dr. Sorrell, Collin County leaders expressed hope for the county’s future at a panel discussion led by Scott Flannery, CEO of UnitedHealth North Texas and Oklahoma. The group included the mayors of Selina, Wylie, Princeton, and Prosper, Texas.
Princeton Mayor Brianna Chacon spoke about how changes are happening at the local level. “This is where we are making a difference, this is a grassroots effort that is changing and shaping forever,” the mayor said.
Mayor Chacon went on to explain how Princeton is changing through diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts such as the formation of the DEI and the DEI Council, which works with businesses. According to her, this helps to overcome political differences.
“Unfortunately, this destroys the political divisions that have been created everywhere,” Mayor Chacón said. “And again, as we said, it all starts here at the local level, and we have a responsibility to address those differences and ensure that everyone works the same way.”
In addition to this, Mayor Chacon mentioned that Princeton hopes to become more business-friendly, solve the housing crisis and install infrastructure upgrades such as a new communications tower and a medical district in the coming years.
Selina Mayor Sean Terry also hopes to upgrade downtown Selina’s infrastructure while paying homage to the city’s history.
Mayor Terry said this reinvestment will be done next year by revitalizing downtown streets and installing drainage in those streets that didn’t exist ten years ago. He added that successful change in Celina in the past has come about through the development of public-private partnerships, in which private institutions, such as businesses, come to public institutions, such as local governments, with an understanding of each other’s needs.
But that’s not the only problem Selina faces. Like his fellow community leaders, Mayor Terry acknowledges the political problems at the local level due to the lack of participation of people who have just settled in Selina. “I think our biggest problem at Celina right now is that when you transfer 500-600 people, the new people don’t understand who they are voting for,” he said. “And I think it’s very important to go out and engage our citizens.”
Prosper Mayor David Bristol also said the city plans to invest in community and infrastructure in the coming years. “Most of the people who move to Prosper are from somewhere else,” the mayor said. “For our sense of community as a small town, we need to integrate all of these people into our small town.”
Investing in the city’s infrastructure could help the city develop successfully. The city is focusing on building roads that provide better access to larger nearby towns like McKinney and attract more businesses and more job opportunities, the mayor of Bristol said.
“Now we have $60 million for road works,” the mayor of Bristol said. “We have our ISD, which is building new schools, a new high school, and we have to build a road there. So that’s our biggest thing, roads of all kinds.”
Mayor Wylie Matthew Porter looks to the future, looking for solutions to today’s problems. The mayor said Wylie partnered with a private organization to create Jericho Village, which is focused on serving those facing housing challenges, primarily those fleeing domestic violence. Mayor Porter said it provides not only a place to live, but also opportunities for further education and careers, childcare and transportation assistance, and counseling services.
“It’s a holistic approach … it’s about making sure these people don’t slip out of sight and it doesn’t become a generational issue,” Mayor Porter said.
Overall, Collin County mayors have stressed the importance of improving the quality of life for all of their residents by reviving and expanding infrastructure and opening new businesses in the area, without losing focus on the people who live there, their constituents. Colleen County looks to the future, leaving no one behind.