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From Site Selection magazine, March 2013

Return on Investment

Mark Arend
Illustration by Bob Gravlee


exas Gov. Rick Perry didn't travel to California in February to pick a fight, although that is what many in the press would have you believe. "We did go to provoke — in the good sense of that term — a discussion about the business climate in California versus that of Texas," the governor told me after he returned. TexasOne, a state economic development funding program, had purchased a $24,000 radio advertisement prompting Golden State businesses to consider a Texas location. That's pocket change in the California media market. But it got the attention of Gov. Jerry Brown, who summoned up all the statesmanship he could muster and referred to the spot at a business event as "barely a fart."

"He took the bait," says Gov. Perry. "He talked about it and criticized it instead of just dismissing it. By our calculations, by his doing that, he turned our $24,000 investment into about $4 million worth of free media. It was everywhere — on the national networks, in editorials nationally and in the California papers. It was a huge success."

Perry says he and his team met with about 50 businesses, from those with over $1 billion in revenues to mom-and-pop shops. "The message we heard time and again was this: If a company had the ability to relocate, they were considering it." Perry simply wanted them to keep Texas in consideration. If anything about the California business people he met surprised the governor, it was their amazement that a governor was in their midst (1) expressing interest in their business and (2) saying he would appreciate their business. "They told me they never hear that in California," says Perry.

He said it this way in an editorial published in the Austin American-Statesman on February 17th: "Let's be clear about this. If California weren't treating its employers and entrepreneurs as a captive audience, these companies wouldn't be interested in meeting with Texas in the first place."

The Governor's Cup for 2012 new facilities activity goes to Gov. Perry, who is quick to give credit to the legislature for passing the business-improvement measures he has championed since becoming the Lone Star State's chief executive in 2000, and the state and local economic development professionals who work with new and expanding companies every day. He also gives credit to the companies he welcomes to Texas and those already there, especially the ones he celebrates with when they announce expansion plans — see the cover story for plenty of examples of those. Gov. Perry invests time in these companies and believes in thanking people for their business, and they appreciate that.

Congratulations, Gov. Perry, and also the Houston, Dallas (Tier 1), Midland and Victoria, Texas (Tier 3) metros that are among the Top Metros for 2012 recognized in this issue. We salute all the metros listed, and the micropolitans, too, that successfully made the case that their location was the right choice for expanding a business.

Meanwhile, this issue marks the beginning of our redesign process, one you will see reflected in all our print and online content, including our websites and newsletters. Logos don't change very often, and this is the third Site Selection logo in my time with the magazine. So this new look gives me an opportunity to express my gratitude to my colleagues over the years who have worked tirelessly to deliver the best content in our field. And to our readers and advertisers, we greatly appreciate your support.

Till next time,

Mark Arend
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