By Sondra Barr
Sherman, often eclipsed by the urban dazzle of Dallas-Fort Worth, is currently under the spotlight, boasting milestones of progress and envisioning a promising horizon under the dynamic leadership of Mayor David Plyler.
At the heart of these leaps is an infusion of international interest and substantial economic investments. Two behemoths of the silicon chip industry, Texas Instruments and GlobalWafers Co., have anchored their trust and funds in Sherman, totaling an astounding $35 billion.
Mayor Plyler points out the collective effort behind Sherman’s recent transformative undertakings. Under the vigilant guidance of City Manager Robby Hefton, backed by a steadfast city council, and supported by the predominantly pro-business ethos of the city staff, they formed an indomitable force. Their dedication was evident when they steered Texas Instruments towards Sherman even when competing against global hubs like Singapore for the company’s next plant.
However, the journey to this monumental success wasn’t shouldered by city hall alone. An incredible amount of collaboration was woven into the fabric of this endeavor. The community wholeheartedly participated. Local governmental bodies, educational institutions like Grayson College, and even the Texas governor’s office each chipped in their strategic strengths.
Plyler clarifies his role as a facilitator in these negotiations. He also emphasizes the valuable contributions from the Sherman Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO), revealing that the crucial numbers and strategies were primarily driven by the team at SEDCO. Their insights and determination were instrumental in understanding the weight of what was at play. “The magnitude of a $30 billion investment in a city with a total tax value of just $4.5 billion is not just game-changing; it’s historic,” Plyler says.
“I don’t know of any Texas city that’s done what we’ve done, ever. With a population our size, usually they’re drawn to Austin or San Antonio. Our location, reasonably close to the Metroplex and our easy way of living is very attractive to these international businesses, plus our very motivated work force is something else we are able to offer. So, all things added up and pushed them our way.”
“We didn’t just aim to compete; we aimed to seal the deal,” says Plyler, underscoring Sherman’s proactive approach. From the governor’s proactive support in negotiations to the unified efforts of local to state governments, the collective intent was clear – to boost Sherman’s growth and reputation. “Crafting such a competitive package was no easy feat. It took grit, vision, and unparalleled teamwork. And seeing it all come together for Sherman’s bright future? That’s nothing short of remarkable,” says Plyler.
Subsequent to Texas Instruments, securing another significant investment from GlobalWafers Co. added another feather in Sherman’s cap. These generational projects are not merely about financial gains. They touch the very essence of the community. By creating numerous jobs, they uplift the living standards of the citizens, offering them better opportunities and a brighter future. Addressing the issue of poverty at its core, such massive investments become a beacon of hope and progress for the entire community.
Sherman’s strategic efforts have not only attracted marquee names in high-tech industries but have also paved the way for a cascade of ancillary businesses. Plyler observes, “What we’re finding is that suppliers, contractors, and other stakeholders are converging on Sherman. An ecosystem of high-tech enterprises is burgeoning right here. Witnessing this evolution and the growth of an industrial symbiosis in our city is truly fascinating.”
The duality of Sherman’s charm – its serenity combined with its proximity to the Metroplex – is a significant pull factor. But it’s the city’s forward-thinking, epitomized by its proactive infrastructural initiatives and its welcoming stance towards businesses, that ensures Sherman isn’t just growing; it’s flourishing sustainably.
The burgeoning investments in Sherman have brought about transformative changes, both in terms of opportunities and challenges. One of the most conspicuous challenges that has risen to the forefront is infrastructure development.
“We’ve embarked on a slew of infrastructure enhancements, from laying down water and sewer lines to expanding our water plant and even constructing a new sewer plant,” says Plyler. “I can’t say enough about our city of Sherman engineers. They have been instrumental in assembling the right consultants, designing the projects, and steering them out for bid. It’s undeniable that these developments have required a colossal effort on our part, but we anticipated this. And undoubtedly, the monumental benefits for our community far eclipse the challenges.”
Mayor Plyler’s dedication to the Sherman community is evident not only in the infrastructural advancements but in the emphasis on safety as a foundation for enjoyment. While he takes pride in the new police and fire stations, he views them as more than just buildings—they’re a promise of security. “We’re a city of law and order,” he says.
This declaration isn’t just a nod to maintaining safety, but a broader assurance to numerous corporations making Sherman their home. These businesses look for stability and predictability, and according to Plyler, Sherman is up to the task. “There’s a laundry list of expectations these corporations have, and law and order certainly rank high.”
As a result of this bolstered safety infrastructure, residents can now truly relish in the enhanced parks, trails, and the recently inaugurated pickleball pavilion. “We can have wonderful parks, but if people are afraid to use them, their value diminishes,” he says. This holistic approach underlines Plyler’s commitment to pairing quality amenities with a secure environment.
In line with the emphasis on community security and enhancement, Sherman’s vision goes beyond merely recreational amenities. As Plyler points out, “The school district passed a roughly $550 million bond, and they are replacing a lot of dated schools. The stadium is part of the package. Everyone is riding this new influx of folks.” At a time when many cities face the dilemma of raising funds versus residents’ well-being, Sherman stands out. Remarkably, the city achieved this without any increase in property taxes.
“They’re doing that because of the new growth in the city. That’s impressive, to have that kind of money available for new facilities without raising taxes,” says Plyler. This deft management not only underscores the city’s commitment to education and community development but also exemplifies the delicate balance of growth and fiscal responsibility that Sherman has embraced.
The vision for Sherman isn’t restricted to mere economic expansion; it delves deep into preserving the city’s inherent charm and unique identity. Recognizing the potential challenges that rapid growth can present to a city’s character, Plyler and the city council have been proactive. They’ve implemented well-thought-out planned development strategies, grounded in comprehensive ordinances that ensure new developments harmoniously integrate with Sherman’s foundational ethos.
“We, as a council, have instituted specific strategies for planned developments,” he says. “These strategies are designed to ensure that as new neighborhoods spring up, with contemporary amenities and distinct design elements, the heart and soul of our city remains unchanged.”
This meticulous approach allows each new development to flourish with its individual character, while simultaneously ensuring that iconic areas like downtown Sherman and the central business district remain untouched by the hands of time. “It’s a balance that allows us to introduce modernity while still holding onto the same aesthetics and character that have endeared Sherman to its residents for generations,” says Plyer. The result is a seamless blend of the old and the new, where progress respects tradition, and the city’s legacy shines through.
As Mayor Plyler nears the conclusion of his term next November, his reflections on legacy are multifaceted. Beyond the notable infrastructural developments and economic strides, one project holds significant emotional weight for him: the transformation of the old Highway 75. Set to open early next year, this overhaul isn’t just about modernization; it’s about safety. Plyler expresses a palpable sense of pride and relief, saying, “Am I proud that we will finally have a safe highway running through the middle of Sherman? Absolutely. We had a lot of fatalities on our old highway, so seeing the completion of the new Highway 75 brings immense satisfaction.”
But this highway isn’t the only endeavor close to his heart. The chip plants, particularly, stand out as remarkable achievements. “That’s something I’m immensely proud of,” he emphasizes, “It’s truly put Sherman on the international stage. We’re now receiving calls from businesses overseas, especially from traditional chip-making countries.”
The emergence of Sherman on the international business map, especially with the introduction of the silicon chip plants, stands as a testament to Plyler’s leadership. However, he is quick to deflect credit. “Our global prominence and community upliftment are fruits of not just my tenure, but decades of dedication by previous administrations. Our dedicated city employees, hardworking city staff, and the unwavering spirit of our populace have been the real engines behind this success,” he says.
As the conclusion of Mayor Plyler’s term approaches, many are intrigued about what lies ahead for him. While he remains undecided about his next chapter, his commitment to service remains undiminished. To those who will follow in his footsteps, Plyler offers thoughtful counsel: “There’s a lot that goes into deciding what’s right for our city. Often, the best decisions naturally rise to the forefront. Work diligently on projects that genuinely serve the community. Always strive for improvement and continue to honor the obligation we have to the citizens, aiming to provide them with a community that stands out as unparalleled.”
Sherman, once overshadowed, is now on the global map. With collaborative community endeavors and visionary leadership, Sherman is not just dreaming but realizing those dreams, redefining its legacy as the burgeoning ‘Silicon Prairie’ of Texas.