Why KidZania in Frisco and other Mexican-owned businesses are thriving in D-FW

When Mexican-owned KidZania was looking to site the first U.S. franchise for its upscale children’s entertainment center, North Texas was an easy winner.

“It has great economic development and the demographic that we need — families with children who are interested in their education and good socioeconomic standing to pay for tickets,” Enrique Mena, chief of staff and business liaison officer at KidZania USA told The Dallas Morning News.

KidZania is an elaborate children’s-size town where role-playing teaches them about various professions, includes stores, a bank, a TV station, an aviation academy, restaurants, an optometrist, a hospital, a university, a theater and a fire station.

The initial location, Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre, is in one of the region’s busiest shopping centers, surrounded by acres of other retail stores, large employers and affluent suburban neighborhoods — exactly the customer base and foot traffic needed to support an 80,000-square-foot entertainment complex.

KidZania isn’t alone in recognizing D-FW as a land of opportunity to grow a business in the U.S. Here’s why the region is so appealing to companies and what they need to do to succeed.

Part of an American Airlines jet greets visitors to KidZania Dallas. The jet houses several kid-sized flight simulators. The two story location has 100 activities in 40 kid-sized stores. (Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

Frisco offered KidZania, which started in Mexico City, up to $1 million in incentives over five years if it met investment and job creation goals. The company has already received payments totaling $560,000. Leigh Lyons, Frisco Economic Development Corp.’s marketing and communications director, said it has “exceeded the key performance criteria.”

As the company’s first U.S. location, the city is helping the company “identify areas of opportunity,” Mena said. “Whatever we learn here, we will avoid or improve in the next cities that we go to in the U.S.”

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