INTERVIEW WITH GOVERNOR ABBOTT
From Together, We Are Building a Bigger, Better Texas
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Going for the Baker’s Dozen

How Governor Greg Abbott keeps pushing Texas to new levels of achievement.

Interview with Governor Abbott
Governor Greg Abbott accepting Site Selection Magazine’s Governor’s Cup in March 2024 for a record-shattering 12th consecutive year and 19th win overall for Texas — records unmatched by any other state.
Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor of Texas

by RON STARNER
A
“The nation’s leading CEOs cite our pro-growth economic policies — with no corporate income tax and no personal income tax — along with our strong and growing workforce, easy access to global markets, robust infrastructure, and predictable regulations.”
“The nation’s leading CEOs cite our pro-growth economic policies — with no corporate income tax and no personal income tax — along with our strong and growing workforce, easy access to global markets, robust infrastructure, and predictable regulations.”
— Governor Greg Abbott

merica’s most competitive governor has a new challenge in his sights: grabbing a 13th consecutive Governor’s Cup from Site Selection magazine in 2025.

On March 1, 2024, Texas Governor  Greg Abbott grabbed the prestigious Governor’s Cup trophy on behalf of the Lone Star State, which secured it for a record-setting 12th straight year. Site Selection annually awards the cup to the governor whose state secures more corporate facility investment projects than any other.

In the calendar year 2023, Texas accomplished that feat by hauling in an impressive 1,254 such projects — more than double the total of second-place finisher Illinois, which had 552. Texas nearly tripled the output of third-place Ohio, which had 462.

And that’s not all. Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston finished second and third, respectively, among all U.S. metro areas with tallies of 452 and 413 facility deals. Austin also placed in the top 10 by securing 96 investment deals.

How does Texas maintain this momentum? Governor  Abbott shared a few clues with us: “Texas moves at the speed of business,” he said. “By cutting red tape and burdensome regulations, and making strategic, continuing investments in infrastructure, education and workforce development, Texas offers businesses the freedom to grow and Texans the tools to prosper. I am proud to again accept the Governor’s Cup from Site Selection magazine recognizing Texas’ dominance in attracting significant job-creating business investments. I congratulate the exceptional economic development teams at the local, regional and state level who have worked so diligently to attract and retain these growing businesses and the jobs they create in diverse communities across this great state. Working together, we continue to build a bigger, better Texas for decades to come.”

How Texas is Leading America

In the governor’s recent “2024 Report to the People of Texas,” he outlined several other key achievements:

  • The Texas economy surged to become the eighth largest in the world at $2.4 trillion.
  • Texas continues to stake its claim as America’s most diverse business state. One in five Hispanic business owners in the U.S. now resides in Texas, as does one in every 10 Black business owners in America. In addition, more than 1.3 million women-owned businesses now call Texas home.
  • Texas once again leads the nation in population growth. Texas gained more new people than any other state in the nation in 2023 and now has a record 30.5 million inhabitants.
  • Texas led the nation in total jobs added in 2023.
  • The booming Texas economy produced the largest budget surplus in state history.
  • More Fortune 500 companies choose Texas for their headquarters than any other state.

The list of accolades goes on, but Abbott does not let this track record of success justify any complacency in him or anyone else in his administration. Far from it, he keeps pressing for more growth and prosperity, not just for all Texans, but for all Texas communities across his vast state.

That’s why he pushes for more state investment into public schools, community colleges, universities, medical research centers and trade schools. It also motivates him to push the state to do more to protect its citizens — in their homes, on their streets and at the border.

The two biggest economic development wins for Governor Abbott in 2023 were passing property tax relief and signing a new incentives bill into law. The property tax cut was the largest in Texas history, saving Texans $18 billion in property tax payments to the state. More than 5.7 million Texas homeowners will benefit from this bill.

On economic development, Abbott championed replacing Chapter 313 with JETI — the Jobs, Energy, Technology and Innovation Act. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development & Tourism describes the bill as follows: “JETI is a new competitive economic incentive program used to attract large, capital-intensive economic development projects, bringing new capital investment and creating new, high-paying jobs in Texas communities.”

Educating a Technical Workforce

Abbott understands, however, that the best investment that Texas can make to shore up economic development is an investment into the state’s workforce. That’s why he made sure the state approved $650 million to fund outcome-based learning in community colleges and another $305 million to train health care workers. He also supported $20 million to fund the MyTexasFuture.org website to help Texans find degrees and credentials that can enable them to gain marketable skills without incurring new debt.

He also signed the Texas CHIPS Act into law last June. The bill sets aside $1.36 billion to bolster state efforts in attracting and growing more investment in semiconductor manufacturing and all aspects of this sector’s rapidly expanding supply chain.

Separately, the State of Texas set aside an additional $200 million to fund Texas A&M’s creation of the new Texas Space Institute to advance research and development in space exploration. This is part of the $350 million that Texas allocated to the Texas Space Commission and the Texas Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium.

NASDAQGovernor Greg Abbott rang the Nasdaq closing bell to celebrate Texas’ economic achievements during a virtual bell ringing ceremony in November 2023 at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin. 
Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor of Texas

In his report to the people of Texas, Abbott explained his business climate philosophy succinctly: “The nation’s leading CEOs cite our pro-growth economic policies — with no corporate income tax and no personal income tax — along with our strong and growing workforce, easy access to global markets, robust infrastructure, and predictable regulations,” he said. “These business advantages found only in Texas grow more than the bottom line. When freed from the stranglehold of over-taxation and runaway regulation, new ideas flourish here.”

No wonder then, that for almost two decades running, Texas has been named as the No. 1 Business Climate in the nation by Chief Executive Magazine. Since 2015, nearly 300 companies have relocated their corporate headquarters to Texas.

The CEO of Texas — In His Own Words

We recently caught up with Governor  Abbott for the following interview on this and many other topics related to economic development. As you will see in his comments below, he is not one to settle for finishing second in anything. 

You just picked up the Site Selection Governor’s Cup award from Site Selection magazine. This is a record 12th straight year that Texas has claimed this honor. What are the business environment factors that make this record run possible?

GOV. ABBOTT: Texas has won the Governor’s Cup every year that I have been Governor, and we are proud to accept the award for the 12th consecutive year and 20th win overall for Texas. This record-breaking success is thanks to the best business climate in the nation and pro-growth economic policies — with no corporate income tax and no personal income tax — along with our highly skilled, growing and diverse workforce, easy access to global markets, robust infrastructure, and reasonable regulations. These business advantages found only in Texas grow more than the bottom line. When freed from the stranglehold of over-taxation and red tape, businesses flourish and Texans prosper. For nearly 200 years, Texas has offered the freedom and opportunity for people to succeed that cannot be found anywhere else.

What is the secret sauce behind Texas’ sustained run of economic development dominance?

GOV. ABBOTT: Our secret to success is simple: We want businesses to succeed, because when businesses succeed, Texas succeeds. As well, entrepreneurs know they have the freedom to grow their business in our great state. The State of Texas moves at the speed of business. By cutting red tape and burdensome regulations, businesses can invest more quickly in our communities and create new, good-paying jobs for hardworking Texans. Also fueling our No. 1 economic development environment is our decentralized approach, relying on strong partnerships at the state, local and regional levels to bring continued investment and job creation to Texas. Working together, we will continue to build a bigger, better Texas for generations to come.

Tesla-Lithium-GroundbreakingJoined by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Governor Greg Abbott celebrated Tesla’s new lithium refining facility at a groundbreaking ceremony in May 2023 in Robstown, Texas. 
Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor of Texas

Texas recently replaced the Chapter 313 incentives fund with another program known as JETI. Can you describe what the replacement program will do for businesses in your state?

GOV. ABBOTT: The Texas Jobs, Energy, Technology, and Innovation (JETI) Act, passed and signed into law last year, was created as a new competitive economic incentive program to attract large-scale economic development projects, bringing new capital investment, and creating new, good-paying jobs in Texas communities. Administered by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, this program is accepting applications right now. With new economic development incentive tools like JETI, coupled with our ongoing investments in infrastructure, education and workforce development, Texas will continue to attract even more innovative industry leaders to our state. Texas is focused on making strategic investments to ensure our communities have the tools they need to remain competitive in attracting businesses in 2024 and beyond.

Energy has long been an industrial mainstay for the Texas economy. Do you expect the Biden Administration’s pause on approving any new LNG terminals to have any long-term effect on the Texas economy?

GOV. ABBOTT: Texas is the No. 1 energy-producing state in the nation, and we expect to uphold this title well into the future. If Texas were its own country, we would be the fourth-largest oil and gas producer in the world. As the nation’s leader in crude oil and natural gas production, Texas’ dominance in this field is not slowing down. We are a leading state in the nation for LNG exports, and we are focused on upholding our leadership status.

How important is the Texas Medical Center to your state and the country?

GOV. ABBOTT: The Texas Medical Center (TMC) in Houston is critically important to our state, our nation and the world. Supporting our already strong biotech and life sciences industry, TMC is the largest medical complex in the world where medical innovations are pioneered that save people’s lives. TMC is also home to the world’s largest children’s hospital, the world’s largest cancer hospital, and the brightest minds in medicine. Not to mention, TMC supports Texas jobs, employing more than 120,000 people. The Texas biotech and life sciences ecosystem, including TMC and other world-class higher education institutions across the state, keep Texas on the cutting edge of science and medical research.

What role do colleges and universities play in economic development in Texas?

GOV. ABBOTT: Our state’s robust network of higher education institutions is key to our economic development success as they produce top talent and the best workforce in the nation. Texas is home to seven university systems, 37 public four-year universities, and 80 two-year colleges, not to mention six of the nation’s top 100 universities and 11 Tier One research universities. These institutions help to build a strong talent pipeline so that companies can find highly skilled and job-ready talent across the entire state. Thanks to our leading colleges and universities, coupled with innovative partnerships and programs in workforce development, Texas is truly building the workforce of the future. 

How does Texas foster and support innovation and entrepreneurship?

GOV. ABBOTT: Texas has a strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. We lead the nation in high-tech exports, and we are the top state for semiconductor manufacturing and exports. Entrepreneurs have boundless opportunity in Texas. We are home to 3.2 million small businesses, which are the backbone of our booming economy. Businesses of all sizes are contributing to our expanding innovation network here in Texas. Men and women willing to take a risk, dig deep into their own pockets, and stake their future on an idea have long written the story of Texas. That pioneering spirit still fuels our shared prosperity today.

As I talk to innovative entrepreneurs from around the world, they point to Texas’ world-class business climate that allows their companies to grow and their employees to succeed and enjoy a high quality of life in communities across our great state.

What is Texas doing to make housing more affordable for working families?

GOV. ABBOTT: Texas is focused on cutting property taxes to put more money in the pockets of hardworking Texans. With no corporate or personal income tax, Texas already has one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, and I continue working with the Texas Legislature to make the state even more tax friendly. Last year, I signed the largest property tax cut in Texas history — $18 billion of Texas’ historic budget surplus will be allocated toward driving down school district property tax rates, increasing homestead exemptions for Texas homeowners, and increasing Franchise Tax exemptions and appraisal caps for small businesses. While we made historic progress in lowering property taxes for all Texans last year, we will continue working to put Texans on a pathway to eliminate school property taxes altogether. 

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.

  





Texas is drawing companies from across the U.S. with its famously pro-business climate, robust infrastructure and world-class workforce.





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