The Texas Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness is meeting this week in Austin to quote, develop and present concrete principles on a long term competitiveness and economic development issues. The hearing will examine important factors for companies looking to relocate to Texas or expanded and add jobs here.
House Speaker Joe Straus has explained that two recent events were the catalyst for the committee. Hurricane Harvey and it’s billions of dollars in damage to Texas and Amazon’s pursuit of a second U.S. headquarters offering value potentially 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 number four in the CNBC Best States for Business Rankings. The first time in 11 years we haven’t been number one or two. Granted a lot of that is due to falling oil and gas prices. We remain number one 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. Now even wind and solar. And our people in that intangible entrepreneurial spirit. We’ve also done a great job of maintaining a pro-growth policy climate that includes reasonable regulations and relatively low taxes. As a speaker’s proclamation notes, Texas needs to make sure our approach to economic development over the long term is appropriate for the private sectors 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 the economic growth. Also access to capital, investment capital to help our young companies grow and stay in Texas. Investments in innovation across the board. Existing and potential economic tools read incentives to compete for and retain jobs. And tools and authority of local governments to attract new jobs. Finally, will look at examples of successful and unsuccessful attempts to attract companies to Texas. What worked and what didn’t work? 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 in 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 December 5th and is expected to issue a report with recommendations on December 12th.
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Craig Casselberry is founder and president of Quorum Public Affairs, Inc. and a 20-year veteran of Texas politics. As president of Quorum Public Affairs, Casselberry has managed more than 100 strategic communications projects, issue coalitions, and federal, state and local public policy campaigns for corporate clients of all sizes. You can learn more about Craig HERE.