A Destination For Excellence

The Texas Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness is meeting this week in Austin to “develop and present concrete principles on long-term competitiveness and economic development issues.”

The hearing will examine important factors for companies looking to re-locate to Texas or expand and add jobs here.

House Speaker Joe Straus has explained that two recent events were the catalyst for the Committee:  Hurricane Harvey and its billions of dollars in damage to Texas;  And, Amazon’s pursuit of a 2nd U.S. HQ offering value on a level that might negate Harvey’s damage.

Why is this important?  Texas is slipping – slightly – in economic development rankings.  We’ve fallen to #4 in the CNBC “best states for business” rankings, the first time in 11 years we haven’t been #1 or 2.  Granted, a major factor is falling oil and gas prices.. We remain # 1 in the country for workforce and infrastructure.

Many acknowledge our inherent advantages:  our natural resources in the energy space (oil and gas particularly of course , and now even wind and solar) and our people and that intangible –  entrepreneurial spirit.

But we’ve also done a great job of maintaining a pro-growth policy climate that includes reasonable regulations and relatively low taxes.

As the Speaker’s proclamation notes, Texas needs to make sure our approach to economic development over the long-term is appropriate for the private sector’s changing needs and demands in a global economy that is increasingly competitive.

The Committee will be exploring these areas:

  • Education and workforce development to ensure Texans and their employers have access to skilled workers
  • Infrastructure, including transportation, energy, water, utility and broadband to make sure we have the capacity to accommodate economic growth
  • Access to investment capital to help our young companies grow and stay in TX
  • Investments in innovation across the board (and including unnecessary regulations that would impede economic growth)
  • Existing and potential economic tools (read: incentives) to compete for and retain jobs
  • Tools and authority of local governments to attract new jobs
  • Look at examples of successful and unsuccessful attempts to attract companies to TX – what worked and what didn’t

Major Texas business interests are engaged in this effort.  A group called “Texas 2050” is looking closely at how Texas remains the best place for business and families for at least the next 30 years.

Here’s a fun fact: Texas needs to create 7.8 million new jobs by our bicentennial birthday (2036) to keep up with population growth. Wow..

Can we do it?  With a long-term, smart approach, of course.

The Select Committee meets next on Dec. 5 and is expected to issue a report with recommendations on Dec. 12.

Oh, and a shout-out to Dallas Mavericks owner and adopted Texan Mark Cuban who testified today and coined the “Destination for Excellence” phrase.  I am merely borrowing, which I hope he doesn’t mind. As an Arlington native I am, after all, a Mavericks fan.

For more information find me at Quorum Public Affairs or #ccquorum on Twitter.

Craig Casselberry



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