Saturday, April 16, 2011

Texas gov talks economic development with California officials

W. Scott Bailey

Texas Gov. Rick Perry met on Thursday with a delegation of elected officials and business leaders from California.

The topic of discussion was economic development.

Texas, smelling blood in California, has grabbed companies and jobs from the West Coast state over the last few years.

In fact, San Antonio officials believe that California, which was rocked by the recession, is still ripe for plucking.

So why would Perry want to discuss with officials from the Golden State how Texas has worked to attract jobs and employers to the Lone Star State?

“Ensuring each state is strong individually is not only good for the national economy, it ensures the rest of the states work that much harder to create jobs and prosperity for their citizens,” Perry says.

The team spirit may be good for California’s morale. But it seems odd that Texas officials would want to share any insight or advice of any kind in terms of economic development strategies with one of its competitors — especially one where more companies and jobs can be harvested and potentially shipped to this state.

It wasn’t that long ago, January, in fact, when San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro told the Business Journal: “There is no question that many California companies are receptive to Texas entreaties.”

David Marquez, director of Bexar County Economic Development, has offered similar assessments, explaining earlier this year that he has “great confidence that we will see further success in recruiting companies from California ... .”

California Assemblyman Dan Logue, who led the delegation to Texas, says, “From 2008 to 2010, Texas added more than 165,000 jobs. During that same time period, California lost 1.2 million jobs.

“In terms of creating jobs, Texas is clearly doing something right and California is doing something wrong,” adds Logue, who says his group traveled here in an effort to “find out what we can do differently to help create jobs we desperately need in California.”

Prior to its visit to Texas, the Austin American-Statesman offered this from Logue about the reason for the trip: “We want to meet with the businesses that left California and get a detailed understanding of why they picked up shop, and moved their families and their businesses nearly 2,000 miles away,” Logue said. “We want to understand what really triggered that.”

Couldn’t Perry have politely suggested that the California delegation meet with the folks in Idaho or Nebraska or maybe Minnesota instead?

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