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State economic development is a must

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 business commentator

Dallas, TX – "Economic development" is a concept the state of Texas has been resisting for a long time. The point has come for the Legislature to take a look at this prejudice, if the state expects to retain, expand and attract businesses. I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Midday.

Yesterday, the Texas Department of Economic Development released a study expressing concerns how Texas is lacking in competition with other states for businesses. This study was conducted by Dr. Ray Perryman of Waco and commissioned by the Department. The two-volume study is an economic development plan. It was done independently, at no cost to the state.

First and foremost, the plan recommends a strong centralized economic development component, with the Office of the Governor directly involved. According to the press release, the report shows that Texas has fallen behind other states that have more aggressive initiatives. Even with the current budgetary constraints, it points out we must take the necessary steps to compete with other states - or else. Or else, and I quote, "it would put the state on a permanently lower growth path than justified by its underlying assets, resources and potential."

One of the most positive recommendations is to improve our workforce and job training efforts. The report identifies the lack of a current employer-driven workforce-training program. It explains corporate site selectors consider these programs critical inducements. In fact, though we might believe we are a business-friendly state, corporate site selectors don't. So a full inducement package was suggested in the plan to include a Deal-Closing Fund, tax credits for this and that, and other ways businesses can feel welcome here.

And yes, the plan even suggests ways to pay for these inducements. Alternatives might be the following taxes: state property, sales, business activity, franchise, gross receipts and the dreaded state income tax.

Without mincing words, this study insists that unless we take real action in promoting Texas beyond a nice advertisement, we lose. For KERA Marketplace Midday, I'm Maxine Shapiro.

Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 p.m. To contact Maxine Shapiro, please send emails to mshapiro@kera.org.