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Let's Talk Economic Development Incentives

Incentives were the talk of the town at the Texas Economic Development Council’s Legislative Conference. TAB Board Chairman Massey Villarreal and TAB CEO Glenn Hamer each spoke on panels that addressed the need for a new modernized economic development program.


"We are in a world where we are competing against other states,” said Massey Villarreal. Massey joined Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) President, Todd Staples, and McGuire Woods’ Senior Advisor, Robert Wood, for a panel on Securing Texas’ Economic Independence. Todd Staples said it’s important to recognize “people have choices where to locate their facilities and make their investments.” Texas is competing with states like Ohio, New York, and Georgia, who have their own economic development incentives packages for attracting large capital-intensive investments.


When it comes to advocating for these incentives, Massey underlined that there is an education process that needs to happen. It is important to talk to state lawmakers, but it is also important to share the story with city council members and school district board members.





TXOGA’s Todd Staples shared his experience of watching the City of Palestine lose an investment after local officials voted against the incentives package that was on the table at that time. Several years later, thanks to leg work by local economic development councils and advocates, the company came back to Palestine, secured an incentive package, and brought 1,200 jobs to the community. TAB and TXOGA are a part of a robust, grassroots collation that is advocating for a new, modernized economic development tool to be passed this legislative session. The coalition is backed by over 200 chambers of commerce, economic development councils and trade associations that want to see Texas kept as the number one state for economic development.


“We are kidding ourselves if we say all of these projects would have come here anyway,” said Robert Wood. He also addressed critics who suggest economic development incentives takes money away from school districts. “That’s just not true.” Local school districts are reportedly better off due to payments from programs they would not otherwise have. And it is important to note, he added, that economic development incentive programs offer “temporary tax breaks.” Offering short term tax abatements in exchange for long term tax revenue just makes sense.


Towards the end of the conference, TAB CEO Glenn Hamer joined the Office of the Governor (OOG) for a panel on State Incentives and the 88th Legislative Session. OOG's Executive Director of Economic Development & Tourism, Adriana Cruz, and Director of Business & Community Development, Larry McManus, gave an overview of programs available to Texas businesses. The biggest program is the Texas Enterprise Fund, "the deal closing fund," Adrianna explained. Other incentives and programs include the Events Trust Fund, Spaceport Trust Fund, Texas Travel Industry Recovery Grant, and Texas Small Business Credit Initiative, to name a few. Learn more about the support available on the Texas Economic Development webpage.





The Texas Association of Business strongly supports re-upping the Texas Enterprise Fund. As the Texas State Chamber, Glenn Hamer shared that the team spends most of its time at the capitol to protect the business climate.


He explained the Texas Miracle as a three-legged stool: no income tax, light regulatory touch, and the right mix of economic development incentives. Over 200 chambers, economic development councils, and business groups across the state are on record saying Texas needs a new economic development tool to compete for large capital-intensive investments.


Giving a nod to the State of the State and remarks made at the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Glenn thanked Governor Greg Abbott and his economic development team for recognizing the importance of modernized incentives to Texas communities. "This is really important not just for the State of Texas, but for our country," Glenn said. "We need to bring manufacturing back to North America. And the Texas economic development system is the model for the nation." Glenn closed by adding that with the right, transparent, modernized economic development tool, "We will continue winning Site Selection's Governor's Cups and CEO Magazine's Best State for Business for years to come.”




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