Blog by TAB CEO Glenn Hamer
Closing out my second year as CEO of the Texas Association of Business (TAB), I want to continue a tradition of expressing gratitude to the people who help preserve and protect the Texas business climate.
Leaders matter — a lot — particularly at the head of government. Two of the most important books I read this year are Dr. Henry Kissinger’s Leadership, Six Studies in World Strategy, and longest serving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Bibi: My Story. Both deal with the impact great leaders have in making transformational change.
The State of Texas, which to me feels more like a country, has been very well served by the leadership of Governor Greg Abbott. Elected to a third term by a double-digit margin, his attention to job creation and economic development helps promote the Chamber agenda. The policies he supports have put a spotlight on Texas as the economic leader of the free world. His economic development team led by Adrianna Cruz ensures all of us, particularly in the chamber of commerce community, are rowing together.
Texas leads in job creation, exports, energy production, and Fortune 500 company headquarters. As a result of a strong economy and commendable fiscal management, the state has a staggering $2 trillion GDP and sits, conservatively, on a $27 billion surplus. If Texas were its own country, its economy would be ranked 9th in the world.
Texas has won Site Selection’s Governor’s Cup for 10 consecutive years and has been recognized by CEO Magazine as the Best State for Business for 18 years in a row.
Low taxes, light regulations, a skilled and growing workforce combined with the right economic development incentives are the key ingredients of the Texas business climate. TAB’s number one priority for the 88th Legislative Session is replacing Chapter 313 with a new, modern, and transparent economic development program. The sate needs it to attract new and expand existing, large capital-intensive projects in Texas, including critical sectors such as advanced
technology, bioscience manufacturing, semiconductor manufacturing, and energy-related projects.
Civically, TAB has been well-served by visionary, active and energetic Officers. Our outgoing two-year Chair, Brint Ryan is a model Texas business and civic leader. To me, he personifies what is special about Texas. Our incoming Chairman, Massey Villarreal, has been helpful internally and externally for the past two years. He has chaired chambers on the local, state and national levels. Our Treasurer for the past two years, Bill Jones, has done the tough task of that role admirably. Our outgoing past Chairwoman, Becky Redman, is an inspirational leader. Our Secretary, Eddie Aldrete, is politically savvy, and a media genius. Our incoming Secretary, former Texas Secretary of State, Rolando Pablos is also leading our international efforts. When you consider that two-thirds of all goods ($450 billion) from Mexico go through Texas, a strong Texas business voice is essential.
Big wins in Texas for the TxBiz PAC: An astounding 95 percent of those endorsed by the TXBIZ PAC were victorious, including the Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Comptroller Glenn Hegar, Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham, and Speaker Dade Phelan.
Must-Read Report of the year: Woody Hunt’s Texas Commission on Community College Finance Report. It sets the stage for more funding for community colleges tied to performance.
Federal effort important to Texas economy: U.S. Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Mike McCaul’s work on the CHIPS Act could lead to hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for Texas over the next several decades. Incoming House Appropriations Chairwoman, Kay Granger also supported the measure.
Everywhere I go, the workforce is the top issue mentioned. Texans are well served by the Texas Workforce Commission. Chairman Bryan Daniel and Aaron Demerson are constantly looking to increase connections with job creators and those supplying workforce training.
The great Roy Spence, who coined the slogan “Don’t Mess with Texas,” is using marketing for a force of good through the Make It Movement. The movement educates students on well-paying jobs and works alongside educators and guidance counselors to ensure they’re helping connect students to workplace opportunities.
But even with the right skills, the nation has about two jobs open for every available worker. So we need more workers. To that end, TAB is working on a Second Chance Initiative, led by David Emerick and Penny Rayfield. TAB is a strong supporter of efforts that prioritize educational and vocational programs for incarcerated individuals, which are proven to reduce re-offending and increase workforce participation. We also need a sensible federal immigration plan. Here, we’re fortunate to have Chelsie Kramer, who has brought the state together through her work at the American Immigration Council also assisting TAB in our regional efforts.
Mike Baselice polling: The guy is the gold standard. His work on the public’s support for Texas enacting economic development incentives make clear that Texans want to continue to attract the high capital intensive investments like Samsung, Tesla and the nation’s largest green hydrogen facility.
Port Leader: Sean Strawbridge does a marvelous job running the Port of Corpus Christi. If you want to hear a good interview on energy policy catch him on Fox News. The Port exports a greater value of energy than any port in America. He’s also leading the charge on water augmentation. In 2022 he traveled to Israel and visited several desalination plants, which will prove important to the future of water security in Texas.
Diplomatic leader: Texas has so many great consulate generals and diplomats. One star is Livia Link-Raviv, Israel’s Consul General for the Southwest based in Texas. Israel is far and away the per capita tech leader on the planet. It’s known as the Start-up Nation and will only get better with the Abraham Accords and peace agreement with the UAE. The Consul General is always looking for ways to deepen ties with Texas. We appreciate her for inviting our incoming Chair, Massey Villarreal, to judge LatinTech Pitch in Houston.
Austin will host the Israeli American Council National Summit January 19-21. It’s a must-attend event for those interested in innovation and could attract 3000+.
TAB Rooftop Entertainer of 2022: TAB board members received an exclusive election preview from a big name in the campaign world: Dave Carney. The CEO of Norway Hill Associates has been involved in political efforts in all 50 states at every level of government. With an entertaining delivery, Carney provided great insight on what’s shaping Texas politics and predictions for the 2022 General Election.
Entrepreneur Shoutout: It was great to interview Joe Lonsdale at our Annual Policy Conference. Joe is the founder and managing partner at 8VC. He also founded Palantir Technologies, Addepar as well as OpenGov. Lonsdale knows firsthand the value of the policies that make Texas a great place for business and is a great industry leader to have headquartered in the Lone Star State.Gov. Doug Ducey belongs on the list of Hall of Fame Governors. He’s transformed Arizona into an economic powerhouse and a model for education reform during his tenure. He’s a gentleman and a friend. I will always be grateful for his service and for appointing me to the Arizona Mexico Commission (AMC).
Speaking of the AMC, its former executive director, Juan Ciscomani, is heading to the US Congress from Southern Arizona. Juan is as good as people come. He will represent the region, state and country honorably as an instant leader on border security, trade and migration matters. AMC played the leading role in bringing the congressional delegation together on USMCA. Jessica Pacheco the AMC’s President and Luis Ramirez, long-term consultant, formed a Dream Team. I also want to add that Juan’s brilliant wife Laura is probably the most politically aligned person I worked with at the Arizona Chamber.
And bringing it full circle, the world lost one of the most important promoters of trade with Mexico, Jim Kolbe this year. Jim was my first paid position in politics as a Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional intern in DC in ‘92. The first substantive work on my part was a one-minute speech I helped draft for him on NAFTA. His work continues through Juan and others. May his memory be blessed by our efforts.