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.