Josephine Slack left the Navy three years ago and is looking for her new purpose in life. The Navy saved her, she says, by giving her a mission and awakening a drive for service that she didn’t even know she had.
Josephine met her military recruiter at a party. “He told me he could change my life, and he did,” she recalls. In the Navy, she met her husband, Daniel. And after five years of service, she became pregnant. Seeking stability, she finished her contract and left the military along with her husband, when their son, Raylen, was three months old.
Life hits hard
They were lucky, she says, they had family to go home to. “I realized as soon as we got out that this was way harder than we expected,” she remembers. “Life hits you hard, like a bag of bricks.”
Josephine, her husband and their son moved in with her mom and dad in Bedford. They used the Post 9/11 GI Bill to go back to school. She went to the Cordon Bleu culinary school and he went to UTI. She worked for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Dallas for a bit, but quit to be home more after her dad suffered medical complications. Daniel works as a mechanic at a car dealership, helping them live paycheck-to-paycheck.
Josephine joined the reserves and is grateful to have health insurance again. She’s working part-time for a company that helps people with financial services. But she’s still looking for a career.
That’s why she was at the Hiring Our Heroes military job fair in Allen last Thursday. By meeting employers face-to-face, she says, she can help explain the gaps in her resume and translate her experience into the civilian world. She’s happy to find employers who are open to hiring veterans and wants to assure them that she’s hirable.
She says, “I think there’s a culture out there that gives people an impression that everyone who leaves the military has PTSD, that we’ve all served in combat—and that’s just not the case.”
Starting in Allen
Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide program that helps veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find jobs. They’ve previously hosted events in the DFW area, but this is their first career fair in Collin County.
The event took place December 1 at the Allen Event Center to serve as a “bridge” between employers and the military community.
“Sometimes you find service members who can only talk in military terms, or they get out and things start going downhill and they just need that extra encouragement,” says Charles Thamm, a professional recruiter for FedEx Office and Army Veteran himself. “These events help our veterans, service members and spouses make connections and learn how to transition into the civilian world.”
The Hiring Our Heroes event in Allen included a full workshop with tips for the resume, 30-second elevator pitch and interviewing skills. The career fair included more than 60 employers, all of which had current job openings. Allen’s convenient central location made it a good option, many job seekers said.
Making something great happen
Also present at the event were Allen Mayor Steve Terrell and Gabriella Pate of Congressman Sam Johnson’s office, as well as Denise Voss, representing Senator Van Taylor’s office, who called it the best she’d ever seen.
“This was our first time in Allen and we’ve had a great response from employers and definitely would consider coming back again in the future,” says Julie Russell, Senior Manager of Sports Partnerships and Events with Hiring Our Heroes. “These events are important because you have a lot of employers who realize the value of hiring a veteran and/or military spouse. Then you have people in the military community who are unemployed or maybe under-employed, and looking to find something that’s a better fit. This creates a bridge between those two groups.”
The organization came to the city at the request of Tracey Cline, who works at the Allen Economic Development Corporation and is the mother of a serviceman currently stationed overseas.
“When Tracey came to me with this idea, it made so much sense, and I immediately reached out to Julie to ask her to bring Hiring Our Heroes here,” says Sean Sweeden, a Veterans Employer Liaison for the Texas Veterans Commission in Plano. “There’s never been anything with this type of collaboration this far north in the DFW area. Allen is a booming area, right in the middle of a lot of growth, so why not start here?”
Especially in today’s world, he says, networking is critical, which makes facilitating these types of hiring events for veterans a priority. “You never know who you’re going to meet and who they’re going to know,” Sweeden says. “When you get out exponentially to a few different places, even the ones off the beaten path, you’re going to run into someone who knows someone. They’re going to see your skillset; you can market that to them and hopefully something great happens.”
Employers in Attendance
The Allen Economic Development Corporation would like to recognize and thank the following local employers for participating in the event:
American Fire Protection Group
Avis Budget Group
City of Allen
Collin County Sheriff’s Department
Dallas County Sheriff’s Department
Dallas Police Department
Defense Contract Management Agency
E.A. Renfroe & Company
Federal Bureau of Investigations
First Command Financial Services
Fort Worth Transportation Authority
GENCO, A FedEx Company
Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Heavy Equipment Training
Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre
Home Helpers of Dallas
Jack Henry & Associates
Little Elm Police Department
Marsh & McLennan Companies
Michael Baker International
National Real Estate Associates
New York Life Insurance
Point2Point Global Security
Prudential Renewal by Andersen
Richardson Police Department
Securitas Security Services
Service King Corporate
Standard Utility Construction
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Texas Department of Public Safety
Texas Mobile Mechanics
The Brandt Companies
The Home Depot
Time Warner Cable
U.S. Border Patrol
United States Navy Reserve
University of Texas at Dallas
Vestas Wind Systems
Participating Service Providers
Allies in Service
Private Public Partnership
Texas Veterans Commission
Texas Veterans Leadership Program
Texas Workforce Commission
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
ALLEN, Texas— WatchGuard Video, the world’s largest manufacturer of law enforcement video systems, recently announced that they will be building their new state-of-the-art corporate headquarters in Allen, Texas.
The build-to-suit project will be completed in two phases for a total of 200,000 square-feet of first-class office space and a corporate investment of approximately $46 million, accommodating upwards of 700 employees at full capacity.
“WatchGuard is experiencing hyper-growth thanks to increasing demand for our equipment such as body cameras and in-car recording systems for law enforcement,” Coffman says. “The City of Allen was a natural choice for the new facility given its upscale amenities and the proactive efforts of the Allen Economic Development Corporation.”
A great place to bring people
WatchGuard’s new corporate headquarters will be located on 12 acres at the intersection of Exchange and Andrews parkways near Cabela’s and Topgolf, just east of Central Expressway in Allen. Convenient access to DFW International Airport as well as Allen’s hotel, conference, dining and entertainment options make it an ideal location, according to the company.
WatchGuard routinely brings in large training classes of command staff for law enforcement from other cities, necessitating a facility with strong curb appeal and a welcoming city environment.
The first phase of the new two-story 140,000-square-foot office facility is expected to cost $36 million and will open at the end of 2017. The company’s second phase adds another 60,000-square-feet of space and is expected to require an additional $10 million investment and be completed around 2022.
“Phase one will get us into the near future, but phase two isn’t far behind,” Coffman explains. “We’re planning a high-end building that serves as a great draw for customers and others in the industry, but really focuses on serving our employees.”
The company expects to move approximately 280 to 300 employees into the new office, with a total capacity of around 500 employees before further expansion is necessary. These jobs are in the areas of research & development, engineering, technology, sales and production.
“The new WatchGuard facility is an excellent example of the significant growth we’ve seen in our office sector,” said Allen Mayor Stephen Terrell. “Demand is being driven by Allen’s highly educated workforce, world-class shopping and dining, and family-oriented lifestyle.”
Choosing Allen twice
WatchGuard moved from Plano to their current location on Century Parkway in Allen in 2010 and is currently operating ‘beyond capacity’ until their new headquarters is completed. They began looking for a new location for their corporate headquarters in 2015.
“Allen was the incumbent and at the top of the list for a number of reasons, but we did look at surrounding cities,” Coffman says. “Plano, Frisco and McKinney are all compelling places—and North Texas is a great place in general.”
But after considering various options, they found the perfect location in Allen.
“This is definitely the place for a higher-end office investment,” Coffman explains. “Aside from the employment and business side of things, we’ve got a huge investment in the building. Allen is a place that you can easily see increasing that value because of how well the community has been planned.”
The facility will include modern features such as: open group areas for collaborating, training rooms, a large outdoor recreation space, an indoor racquetball court, a gym, a health clinic and a ‘customer experience room’ that allows demonstrations of the company’s products thru multimedia and immersive technologies.
WatchGuard began working with the Allen Economic Development Corporation at the start of their search. “They helped in some ways to focus our expectations, proposing various sites and then really paving the way to get this done,” Coffman says. “With a project of this size, a lot of different people are involved, and the AEDC has done a fantastic job of pulling all the various parties together.”
WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Allen Economic Development Corporation (Allen EDC) received several Excellence in Economic Development Awards from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
These include a Gold award for its 2016 Mixed Media Initiative project in the category of Special Purpose Print Brochure, a Gold award for its 2016 project in the category of General Purpose Website and a Bronze award for its 2016 Allen Community Profile project in the category of General Purpose Print Brochure.
The honors were presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 27, during the IEDC Annual Conference, which was held Sept. 25-28, in Cleveland, OH.
“On behalf of the IEDC board of directors and Excellence in Economic Development Awards Advisory Committee, congratulations to the Allen Economic Development Corporation. Not only did they work to provide a necessary service to their community, but also, their participation in the awards program sheds light on their stellar projects which other communities can now use as a benchmark,” said Barry Matherly, CEcD, FM, IEDC 2016 Board Chair, President & CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership.
For the Mixed Media Initiative project, Nichole Vance, Allen EDC’s Marketing Manager, created video brochures as an attention-getting educational tool and promotional giveaway. Vance said they wanted to create a product that not only incorporated all of the sales elements of a traditional brochure — captivating copy and design as well as high-quality printing — but also with video to tell the story of Allen. The brochure is part of a campaign combining three elements: who the AEDC staff is, what the city has to offer and the stories of the business community. The elements within the brochures will be featured via interactive landing pages, ad campaigns and on the AEDC website.
The Allen EDC had a website that was experiencing issues in terms of support and functionality. As their team examined their options, they found that hosting the website themselves with WordPress and using a custom template would be the most cost-effective and timely solution for creating a new website.
The site can easily be updated with new videos, reports, and other content that would be generated in the future. The website was an effort by Nichole Vance, Allen EDC’s Marketing Manager, and Andrew Matheny, the Economic Development Analyst.
The community profile project was led by Nichole Vance and supported by Andrew Matheny. Community profiles are a staple of economic development marketing, but Allen EDC added a web key, and have been able to avoid cluttering up their profile with charts and graphs that don’t convey a message by themselves. The web key gives the option for anyone reading the profile to visit their website for more in-depth information.
IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. These awards honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities.
“The awards process is a thorough, non-biased and multi-layered process. These are extraordinary accomplishments for all winners, and an overall great effort by all participants. We look forward to next year’s awards competition,” Matherly said.
About International Economic Development Council
The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,700 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. IEDC’s members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities and improve the quality of life in their regions. www.iedcONLINE.org.
About Allen Economic Development Corporation
The Allen EDC is a six-member team located in Allen, Texas. Our commitment to the future of businesses and entrepreneurs in Allen is second to none. At the Allen Economic Development Corporation, we offer expert guidance, hands-on assistance, and work alongside Allen businesses to help them meet and exceed goals.
Allen Economic Development Corporation
Nichole Vance, 480-733-6655