Mike Rawlings came to Dallas in 1976 with a couple hundred dollars in his pocket and plans to work as a radio reporter. He didn’t think he’d stay long. But over the next four decades, Rawlings proved that Dallas is truly a city of opportunity.
The Borger, Texas, native worked his way up from an entry-level position at TracyLocke, then the largest advertising agency in the South, to become the CEO. Later, he took the helm of the world’s largest pizza company, Pizza Hut, and grew it to record sales. Rawlings previously served as chairman and managing partner of private equity firm CIC Partners, where he is currently the vice chairman. He provides business counsel and capital, helping to grow small and mid-sized businesses in Dallas and across the country.
Public service has long been important to the 1976 Boston College graduate. He previously served as chair of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, the city’s homeless czar and park board president and he currently sits on the Jesuit College Preparatory Board of Trustees.
Rawlings decided in early 2011 to run for Dallas mayor on a platform that highlighted southern Dallas as the city’s greatest untapped resource. Following his June 2011 election, he launched GrowSouth, his signature initiative to spur economic development south of the Trinity River. He’s also fought to improve public education, combat poverty, revitalize Fair Park, develop the Trinity River corridor, elevate the city’s international profile and turn our city into a top destination for artists all over the world. He’s drawn headlines across the country for his bold campaign against domestic violence, Dallas Men Against Abuse. He has presided over the passage of $600 million in new city bonds to fund streets, flood protection and economic development initiatives and he led the City Council through the hiring process for a new city manager and city attorney.
During Rawlings’ time in office, Dallas has experienced impressive economic growth. Unemployment as of June 2015 had dropped to 4.1 percent, as compared to 5.5 percent one year earlier. Taxable sales continue to rise and property tax values increased in 2015 by 7.7 percent over the prior year.
Rawlings was re-elected to a second four-year term in May 2015, beating his challenger in all but one of 14 City Council districts. He continues to put Dallas in the national spotlight, in part through his post as an executive committee member for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.