Michael Levy, CEO of Crow Holdings, was the guest speaker at the Metroplex Civic & Business Association (MCBA) April Leadership Luncheon at Park House in Dallas. He spoke about the changes and struggles businesses in the area and country face.
“When you go across America, and you see great cities that are dying because the businesses aren’t successful,” he said. “It’s a downward spiral.”
Levy got his start working at Salomon Brothers and Prudential Securities after he received his B.S. from New York University’s Stern School of Business and his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.
In 1998, he was hired at Morgan Stanley, where he had a lengthy career in real estate finance and investment management, serving as COO, CFO, and co-head of multiple divisions throughout his time with the firm.
Levy joined Crow Holdings – founded by Trammell Crow over 70 years ago — in 2016. Since moving to Dallas almost six years ago, Levy said that his perspective of the area has been ever-changing.
“Dallas 75 years ago, when Trammell Crow as a young person got started, was a very different place,” he explained. “Small groups of businesspeople … could direct traffic, for things that would happen in the city. With the level of control and influence that those business leaders had, … they could pay 30 years out and get stuff done. They didn’t have the politics or bureaucracy that exists today.”
Crow Holdings, Levy said, is a privately held real estate investment and development firm with more than 70 years of experience, $24 billion in assets under management, and an established platform with a vision for continued success.
He said that Crow Holdings has a proven record of solid performance, pinpoint execution, and industry innovation, with diverse strategies and return profiles across product types and market cycles.
However, Levy feels many businesses in the U.S. are currently in trouble.
He said that he knows many people are not happy about the job performance of local governments but added that it could always be worse.
“I will tell you the politics in this city are certainly better than the politics in New York City,” he said. “And certainly, better than the politics in Los Angeles. But from a real estate development perspective, they’re not getting better (in Dallas). They get more fractious; more difficult entitlement processes will become more arduous.”
With the next election always just around the corner, Levy was asked what business leaders should request of candidates or elected officials if given a chance.
“Creating a pro-growth or opportunity environment is where everyone in our community can be successful,” Levy said. “It should be a new playing field and a place where it doesn’t matter if you’re in Plano, or Frisco, or in the middle of Dallas, or Fort Worth. Mid-cities should be the same. It should be an equal opportunity and a place where we can build, grow, and be successful.”