Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry's Remarks At Black Entrepreneurs Conference

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004  •  Speech

Thank you so much Earl, both for that kind introduction, and for bringing this esteemed conference to our great state.  For more than 30 years Earl Graves has been blazing his own trail as a leading African-American entrepreneur, and helping to open doors for future generations to follow in his footsteps.  I also want to thank the title sponsor of this conference: our friends with General Motors. 

I was darn proud to join thousands of working men and women a few months ago on the floor of GM’s Arlington plant to celebrate 50 years of excellence in Texas.  To the more than 1,000 entrepreneurs here today who have descended on Dallas from all across this nation, it is my pleasure to give a Texas-appropriate greeting: HOWDY. 

Let me begin with a story that is also very Texan, it’s about an old cowboy, his grandson, and gunpowder.  An old cowboy told his grandson that he would live a long life if he sprinkled a little gunpowder on his oatmeal every morning.  His grandson took his advice and lived to be 110 years old.  When he died, he left behind four children, 20 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, ten great-great grandchildren, and a fifty foot hole where the crematorium used to be.  Now, whether you like your oatmeal with gunpowder or not, I think we can all agree it is high time that we blow a big hole through any and all barriers that stand in the way of minority entrepreneurs.

The American Dream recognizes no class, status or heritage, it is the hope of all, and must be available to all.  I want young entrepreneurs of all walks of life to be able to live the American Dream right here in Texas, to be able to invest capital, invest in the Texas workforce, and prosper in the Texas economy.

Today in Texas there are 60,000 businesses owned by African-Americans, and 240,000 businesses owned by Hispanics.  Those 300,000 businesses, plus many other Asian-American and women-owned businesses, represent the best of America and the best of our free enterprise system.

One of the ways minority entrepreneurs can expand their business horizons is to do business with the state.  I am proud to partner with Dallas Senator Royce West, and more than 50 state agencies to host, in conjunction with this conference, the Texas Pavilion Spot Bid Contract Fair an effort aimed at increasing opportunities for Historically Underutilized Businesses in Texas.

In the days and weeks leading up to this contract fair, state agencies awarded $2.4 million in bid opportunities to Historically Underutilized Businesses.  And we still have more than 600 opportunities up for bid worth an estimated $3 million for small, minority and women-owned businesses.  Whether it’s printing contracts, construction contracts, technical support and software contracts, or a wide variety of other opportunities, the State of Texas is ready to do business with the best and brightest entrepreneurs in Texas.  And if you are wise enough to move your business here from another part of the country, you might consider signing up to become one of the 10,500 HUB-certified businesses in Texas.

In Fiscal Year 2003, more than 4,000 Historically Underutilized Businesses were awarded contracts with the state, generating total expenditures of close to $1.2 billion.  $325 million was spent on heavy construction, $292 million on commodities, and $83 million on professional services, all with HUB contractors.  Being able to do business with the state is a significant way to reduce barriers for minority-owned businesses, but the single-most important thing we can do to help ALL employers prosper is to tear down public barriers to private sector growth.

President Reagan once said: “We in government should learn to look at our country with the eyes of the entrepreneur, seeing possibilities where others see only problems.”  The possibilities for prosperity are endless if employers are not over-regulated and over-taxed.

Those of you following Texas politics will note that we are in the midst of a tremendously important debate about the taxes that finance our schools, and the results we seek in our classrooms.  There are no easy answers.  In fact, sometimes we disagree over the question.  But I believe the only permanent solution to school finance is job creation. 

When we tax entrepreneurs, both small employers and big ones, we risk the only stable source of tax revenue we have: which is a steady and strong job climate.  I have yet to hear a Texan say to me, “tax my job away in the name of educating my children.”  

In Texas, we have made great progress in tearing down barriers to job creation.  Last year we passed the most sweeping lawsuit reforms in the nation, lawsuit reforms that will allow employers to invest more dollars in productivity, and fewer dollars on defense attorneys.  (No offense Royce.)  We balanced our state budget despite a $10 billion budget gap without raising taxes while STILL increasing spending on education by more than $1 billion.  We created one of the most aggressive job recruitment tools in the nation, the new $295 million Texas Enterprise Fund. 

Using that job creation tool, we attracted a 3,000 job expansion by Vought Aircraft, a corporate relocation by energy leader CITGO, and a new $3 billion investment by Texas Instruments, an expansion that was a recent cover story for Site Selection Magazine.  And we consolidated the state’s economic development efforts in my office, meaning corporate CEO’s will deal directly with the State of Texas’ CEO.  All signs point to a prosperous future for the Lone Star State. 

In the last six months, Texas has added 68,000 net jobs.  Most economic factors signal a new era of growth.  Our sales tax revenues far outpaced our comptroller’s projections for the month of March.  High-tech manufacturing posted its first gain this quarter in three years, largely because of semiconductor growth.  Last year we landed “the biggest deal of the year” according to Business Facilities Magazine when Toyota decided to build an $800 million truck plant in San Antonio.  That expansion will not only bring 2,000 direct jobs, but so far we are aware of another 1,000 jobs coming to Texas among Toyota suppliers.  We’re not just landing big fish, but small and medium-sized catches too.

Since the start of 2003 we have added 8,700 new jobs at call centers.  They may not be the highest paying jobs in the market, but they provide a decent wage and in many cases private health insurance, which is better than collecting unemployment and Medicaid.  According to a survey done of 50 top employers in California, among those looking to move jobs to another state, Texas was the top destination of choice.

In Texas, our door is wide open for business and opportunity.  Our taxes remain low, our regulatory climate is reasonable, and our workforce is skilled.  We have good schools, our own power grid, and we are now the nation’s largest exporter of goods.  We are the Gateway to trade with Latin America.  We want your skills, ideas and capital to be invested in the Texas workforce and the Texas economy.  When you invest in Texas, you invest in the future.  Thank you, God bless you, and enjoy your time in Dallas.



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