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Recapping the South Texas Development Summit

Blog by Katie Zarate, Director of Communications

TAB enjoyed a full house at the South Texas Development Summit for an impressive lineup of lawmakers and economic development experts.

A Corpus Christi native, TAB Chairman Massey Villarreal held a one-on-one with Representative Todd Hunter on big wins from this past legislative session. Rep. Hunter is the Chairman of the House State of Affairs Committee and author of HB 5, the number one legislative priority for over 260 organizations, including more than 100 chambers of commerce. Massey awarded Chairman Hunter with the Lonestar Legislator Award for his powerful leadership and unwavering support on HB 5.

The Texas Legislature passed dozens of pro-business bills during the 88th Legislative Session, all of which were signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. In addition to a new economic development program (HB 5, Hunter), Texas will benefit from community college finance reform (HB 8, VanDeaver); the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act (HB 2127, Burrows); and a historic $18 billion in property tax relief package. These transformative measures received strong and unwavering support from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and to recognize his leadership, TAB CEO Glenn Hamer gave Governor Greg Abbott the Economic Trailblazer Award.

The Governor spoke to the uncertainty businesses faced when a powerful economic development tool, Chapter 313, expired. He called the new, transparent, and accountable replacement program, HB 5, an extraordinarily effective tool. Incentive programs are crucial to attracting large capital-intensive projects, such as semiconductor manufacturing plants. These projects generate a net-positive impact on local economies, leading to long-term revenue and high-paying jobs.

The State of Texas is a model for the nation when it comes to our business climate. The Governor pointed out that people and businesses are fleeing high-tax, over-regulated states like California. Meanwhile, because of Texas' more reasonable tax a nd regulatory environment, companies like Tesla can get their operations up and running faster than they'd be able to secure permitting in California.

While speaking at the Summit, the Governor ceremoniously signed HB 5, thanking the business and chamber community for helping get it across the finish line. Due to Tropical Storm Harold, the Governor spoke at the conference virtually. He opened his remarks by sharing how he was working with the Texas Department of Emergency Management to ensure the safety of South Texans affected by the storm.

The Summit also featured a panel of economic development experts who spoke to the importance of incentives and infrastructure investments. When employers are considering where to locate their company, they factor in things like transportation, water, energy, education and workforce development. Panelists emphasized that Texas has to consider what other states are doing so that they can successfully compete. The panel was moderated by Al Arreola Jr. (President & CEO, United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce) and included: Jenna Saucedo-Herrera (President & CEO, greater:SATX); Sergio Contreras (CEO, Atlas, Hall, & Rodriguez, LLP); Gene Lindgren (President & CEO, Laredo Economic Development Corporation); and Mike Culbertson (President & CEO, Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation).

The Panelists also spoke about the importance of the South Texas region and its economic impact on the rest of the state. Several ports within the region contribute to the infrastructure of the Texas Economy, including the Port of Laredo which is the largest inland port in the country, and the Port of Corpus Christi, the third largest exporter of LNG in the world. The panelists highlighted the collaboration between their regions and the continuously growing infrastructure that drives international trade and economic opportunities.

The Summit was sponsored by the Port of Corpus Christi, Frontier Waste Solutions, Coastal Bend CCS, LLC, Corpus Christi Medical Center, IBC Bank, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, and the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce.

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