This week, the connection between North Texas’ communities was strengthened with the opening of the first phase of the DART Orange Line, the highly anticipated public transit light rail train that travels through Irving with stops at the University of Dallas, the Las Colinas Urban Center, and the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas. It is the first step toward providing light rail service directly toDallas-FortWorthInternationalAirport.

During the years and months leading up to the opening celebration, the Orange Line has been called a tremendous accomplishment forIrving. The generation of approximately $8 billion in planned transit-oriented development demonstrates the Orange Line’s effectiveness as an economic driver. However, if the opening celebration was any hint of things to come, the Orange Line is also an effective tool for connecting North Texas residents with Irving, and vice versa.

This weekend, when the Orange Line trains rolled along the newest stretch of the longest light rail system in theUnited States, the crowd consisted of hundreds of people from communities across the entire Metroplex. They came for different reasons – some live, work or attend school in Irving, some enjoy the restaurants, retail and entertainment options in Las Colinas, and others were simply curious about all the hype. Regardless of why they came, they had one thing in common. They used the light rail line to connect with another part of the Metroplex.

As home to over 10,000 businesses, including the global headquarters for five of North Texas’ 25 FORTUNE 500 companies,Irving is the third largest employment center in the Metroplex. A business community of this size requires an enormous workforce consisting of individuals traveling from all overNorth Texas. As anIrving business owner, I can attest to this. My employees travel fromIrving,Dallas, Coppell, Colleyville,McKinney and Southlake. The DART Orange Line will make it easier for employees to connect with their workplaces. And, when completed at the end of 2014, the Orange Line will make it easier for individuals to connect with flights coming in and out ofDallas-FortWorthInternationalAirport.

While the DART Orange Line is a great economic development tool, its ability to connect individuals with communities throughout the region is equally beneficial.

Gail Cooksey, President of Cooksey Communications

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