World Congress on Information Technology Conference
Thank you, Nick Fox. It is an honor to be here with such a gifted group of visionaries, the researchers, inventors, and business leaders who are laying the groundwork for the next wave of the information technology revolution.
Thank you for being here, and welcome to Texas.
I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for what the information technology industry does each and every day to improve our quality of life.
I have always viewed technology as a great source of unlimited opportunity, prosperity and hope for all mankind.
And as someone with an unbreakable addiction to his Palm Treo, I must confess that technology is sometimes a great source of consternation for anyone who expects me to make eye contact during a conversation.
If that applies to anyone here this morning, I offer my sincere apologies.
For those of you who are visiting Texas for the first time, you can finally put to rest the idea that we all ride horses to work and have an oil well in our back yard, not that there is anything wrong with that.
But if there is a stereotype about Texas that is close to true, it’s that we like everything bigger and better, whether you’re talking about belt buckles or business deals.
Most of all, Texas is a state that loves big ideas.
The modern space program, space-based technology, live-saving medical procedures like the coronary bypass, and the modern world’s petroleum powered economy all trace their roots to Texas.
And while many of our Wild West frontiers have been transformed by history’s steady march forward, Texas has laid a lasting claim on the new frontier of information technology.
That is one of the reasons I was proud to provide $1 million from the Governor’s Texas Economic Development Corporation to help bring the World Congress to Austin.
I want the world’s greatest minds to see for themselves that there is no better place on the face of the earth to run an IT business.
Great feats of human ingenuity, the innovations that have transformed the world in the last century, all began as an idea in the mind of man or woman compelled to make the world a better place, and occasionally build a fortune.
And in pursuit of their grand ideas, the visionaries of the past and present, including some who are in this room today, have not only revolutionized the way we communicate, work, learn, love and play, but have given birth to an entirely new global economy.
In Texas, we understand that just like new technology, high tech economies don’t happen by accident, but are the product of forethought, design and partnership.
I am a firm believer in an old Japanese proverb: Vision without action is a daydream, action without vision is a nightmare.
In Texas, we not only have a clear vision for a strong technology economy, we have taken specific actions to make that vision a reality.
We have cultivated a business climate that rewards the entrepreneurial spirit, that welcomes those who risk capital and create jobs, and that seeks to expand the emerging industries that will form the backbone of tomorrow’s economy.
Our business climate has been ranked the best in America, we have created 580,000 net new jobs in less than three years, and employment today is at an all-time high.
The information technology sector continues to be an important driver in the Texas economy.
Every year, information technology provides $37 billion in paychecks for Texas families.
Our universities and research centers are some of the most innovative in America, producing hundreds of new technologies annually.
And growth in the I.T. sector has contributed significantly to Texas being ranked the number one exporting state in America, with more than $31 billion in technology goods and services headed to destinations around the world on an annual basis.
We have worked to position our state as an international focal point for technology research, development and commercialization.
One of our most effective tools for growing technology-based industries has been the Texas Enterprise Fund, a deal closing fund that has helped Texas win expansions by Samsung, Sematech, Texas Instruments and Maxim.
In total, we have allocated nearly $180 million to attract high-tech expansions that will bring more than 14,000 new jobs to our state, as well as two of America’s six 300 millimeter wafer fabs, and the world’s largest library of genetically-enhanced mouse stem cell lines, which hold great potential for groundbreaking medical research.
I am proud of those achievements.
But at the same time, Texas has never been a state that is content with the accomplishments of yesterday.
We understand that like any technology company, a state that lacks innovation in economic strategy is guaranteed deterioration in economic opportunity.
That is why I proposed, and signed into law, a new Emerging Technology Fund.
With the $200 million authorized for this new fund, we are helping universities form new partnerships with the private sector, bolster research capabilities at Texas institutions of higher learning, and help start-up companies get the capital they need to transform ideas into life-changing inventions.
I strongly believe that the innovations that originate in public labs must migrate to the private marketplace as quickly as possible in order to sustain prosperity and create opportunity.
That’s the vision of our Emerging Technology Fund, to leverage the limited resources of our people in order to create unlimited opportunity for their children.
I strongly believe that when government wisely invests taxpayer dollars in technology research and development, all of Texas stands to reap economic and scientific benefits far greater than the money spent up front.
The same is true when government and technology-based employers work in partnership to coordinate long-term economic development strategies, which is exactly what we have been doing for the last two years with an Industry Cluster Initiative.
Our goal is to attract clusters of related technology-based companies to the same geographic region, so that likeminded employers can benefit from an abundance of ideas and talent found in close proximity.
And on top of all the recent steps we have taken specifically to attract technology growth, Texas still has the same qualities that have made us a top destination for business expansion and relocation for decades: reasonable regulations, a skilled and abundant workforce, and low taxes.
And I might add, we not only have no personal income tax, we are on the verge of passing the largest property tax cut in Texas history, and business tax reforms that are supported by virtually every major employer association in the state.
If you think that I’ve spent most of time here today bragging about how great Texas is for the tech industry, you should know that in Texas we consider the truth to be a humble thing.
When I grew up on a cotton farm in West Texas, I thought the border towns of Texas represented the outer reaches of the world.
In one week my oldest child will graduate from college, and enter a world where geographic boundaries make little difference.
An idea hatched in Singapore can be transmitted to a lab in Toronto with the blink of an eye.
An entrepreneur in London can be face-to-face with share-holders in Sydney via satellite.
A real estate company in Houston can identify and lease property in New Delhi with the touch of a phone, and at minimal cost.
Technology has made our world infinitely smaller and re-defined our sense of community.
And yet one thing will never change: technology connections can never make obsolete the importance of human connections.
We face many of the same challenges that Texans faced in the era of horse and buggy, to teach our children the values that will last them a lifetime: love and charity, hard work and sacrifice.
A website or an e-mail can convey a message, but sometimes it is a conversation that can truly provide the meaning behind the words.
A laptop can produce a nice resume, but it’s hard work and sacrifice that make it worth more than the paper it is printed on.
A computer or a television set can entertain our children, but they can’t raise them.
That’s the job of parents and providers.
Customers still demand a human touch in the marketplace, the sick and the diseased still seek the comfort and reassurance of healthcare professionals in our hospitals and clinics, and children still need love and nurturing in a family setting.
That will never change. That’s why the aim of technology innovation must never be to replace the human dimension, but to enhance it.
The collective brainpower in this room is matched only by your collective capacity to achieve the common good of mankind.
I urge you to pursue a path of shared prosperity, one that raises the curtain on the hopes and dreams of all peoples.
As far as we have advanced in the last hundred years, it is but a pale image of what can be.
If the men and women in this room can imagine a world without cancer and poverty, injustice and inequality, then it can be.
You have done so much already.
May it only be the beginning, and may it start right here on soil fertile with hope: the State of Texas.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless your noble purpose.
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