A diverse delegation from a variety of industries embarked on a journey together on October 17 through October 19, 2018. Forty-one Frisco city and community leaders flew out of Dallas Love Field headed to Scottsdale, Arizona. The inaugural Frisco Smart City Leadership Exchange was a new event for the Frisco Chamber of Commerce. The three-day trip, designed to give Frisco’s community leaders, elected officials, business owners and leaders the opportunity to interact with and learn from another high-growth city included panel discussions on topics such as responsible growth, education, innovation, transportation, workforce development, and the arts. “Conversations that were already taking place before the delegation left Frisco continued in Scottsdale but through a different lens,” shared Tony Felker, President and CEO of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce. “Much like Frisco, Scottsdale has experienced tremendous growth over the years and we found it extremely valuable to discuss some of the challenges that exist, or could exist, in Frisco and North Texas.” Bank of America Merrill Lynch stepped up as the Presenting Sponsor of the Leadership Exchange trip. “Bank of America Merrill Lynch was pleased to be the Presenting Sponsor of the inaugural Smart City Leadership Exchange as a demonstration of our commitment to driving responsible growth in Frisco,” said Ryan Blake, Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager at Bank of America. “Taking a delegation to another quality high-growth city, such as Scottsdale, allows us to learn from each other as we explore challenges and opportunities. We look forward to continuing to make connections between city and business leaders that will benefit both Scottsdale and Frisco.” The take-aways from the Leadership Exchange trip were numerous! While we found much in common with Scottsdale there were also some stark differences. Innovative concepts were explored and new ideas were discussed. There was also reinforcement of the great job that leaders in Frisco have done to maintain responsible growth. “Our Scottsdale experience was a great case study in downtown redevelopment; the integration of art with infrastructure; and the transformation of a drainage system into a recreational amenity, complete with large special events and public art,” said Mayor Jeff Cheney. “We learned from our Scottsdale peers who shared in-depth success stories as well as considerations for doing some things differently. We appreciate the Frisco Chamber of Commerce for its collaboration with city staff and congratulate the Frisco Chamber on an inspiring trip.” The Frisco delegation toured several facilities including the Performing Arts Center, Scottsdale’s Museum of Contemporary Art, SkySong Innovation Center, and the Galleria Corporate Center. “Arts are a part of Scottsdale’s DNA,” as one panelist mentioned during an Arts and Culture session. Tammy Meinershagen, Executive Director of Frisco Association for the Arts, said she especially enjoyed the half-day dedicated to Scottsdale’s arts and culture scene, visiting several arts venues, and hearing panel discussions on their best practices. “I was honored to represent arts and culture through Frisco Arts at the inaugural Leadership Exchange with the Frisco Chamber. It was three days of Frisco’s top leaders in all sectors learning, discussing, exchanging, breaking barriers, and having a lot of fun as well,” Meinershagan said. “A few of us in the #FriscoLEX18 group are now pursuing an idea that was inspired by the Scottsdale art programs; these connections would likely not have occurred without the unique structure of this trip. I came away from our time not only armed with lots of information but with new friends, deeper connections, and fresh ideas for Frisco’s future.” Walkability, mixed-used development, class-A office space, downtown revitalization, and going vertical are words we hear in Frisco on a daily basis and that same language is spoken in Scottsdale as well. “The inaugural 2018 Smart City Leadership Exchange was a fantastic event,” said Josh Goad of Hillwood. “The three-day symposium was a great way to build relationships with Frisco leaders in the public and private sectors. It also allowed for a free exchange of ideas for the future and lessons learned from the past between Frisco and Scottsdale. As the Land Development Manager at Frisco Station, a 240-acre mixed-use, master planned development, the trip gave me relevant and actionable insights for innovative art programming and technology. Frisco Station Partners is truly proud to be a sponsor of the event.” Goad said he not only left Scottsdale with knowledge on how to better our community but also made good friends and connections along the way. Frisco Station sponsored a Welcome Reception for attendees on the first evening of the trip. The trip went beyond learning from Scottsdale…what they wish they had done differently, what they did right. The Frisco Leadership Exchange built new - and strengthened existing - connections among our own business and community leaders that otherwise may not have had the opportunity or time to engage with each other. The diverse group of leaders came together with one focus – to keep Frisco the best place to live and work. “While the goal was to exchange best practices, what else transpired was truly organic,” shared Felker. “One aspect of the trip that we can’t stop talking about was the interactions outside of the panel discussions…from a night of karaoke, an impromptu hike up Camelback Mountain, to an exchange of ideas by the fire pit.” The conversation continues…this group, now known as “Leadership Exchange Founding Members,” will reconvene at a roundtable discussion on November 6, 2018, hosted by Bank of America. “The Leadership Exchange trip will be an ongoing event,” Felker said. “We are already looking at other cities to visit in the coming years. Many on the delegation were asking where we were going next before the wheels of the plane touched the ground!” Stay tuned! Follow Smart City Leadership Exchange on social media. #FriscoLEX18. View the recap video HERE.