Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Economic Development-Tourism Summit

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005  •  Speech

Thank you, Roger.  I am honored to be here with such a gifted group of leaders who are driving the engine of prosperity for the people of Texas. 

You are a big part of the reason Texas has become a top destination not only for millions of vacationers each year...
...but also for countless businesses from across the nation looking for a place where they are free to grow.

The last time I had the pleasure of speaking to you all as a group, the national economy was just beginning to find its footing after some tough economic times...
..and Texas was leading the way. 

One year later...
...with much credit to your efforts...
...Texas has not only helped guide America out of the valley...
...but today we are leading the country further down the path of economic prosperity.
In the past year alone, we have created more than 127,000 net new jobs. 

Unemployment rates have dropped in every region of Texas. 

And across the state, a record number of Texans are going to work each morning and giving their families a better shot at living the American Dream.

Last year Texas landed more job creation projects that any other state in the country...
...including the largest expansion nationwide for the previous four years. 

Our business climate was ranked the best in America.

We held on to our title as the top exporting state...
...with more than $117 billion in goods and services shipped around the globe. 

And to make sure all those shipments reach their destination on time, we built more roads...
...and built them faster...
...than any other state in the nation.

Enrollment at Texas colleges and universities has continued to soar past previous record levels because more of our children are receiving a quality education in our public classrooms. 

And our schools are going to be able to help even more children succeed because of an executive order I recently issued that requires every school district to spend 65 percent of all funds on classroom learning.

The Texas tourism market is booming.

The hotel industry marked its best quarter ever earlier this year, surpassing the previous high by $130 million. 

Last year a historic number of leisure trips were taken in Texas, pumping more money than ever before into our economy...
...some $44 billion...
...and providing jobs for nearly half a million Texans.

To those tourism officials with us today, you have my sincere thanks for a job well done. 

I also want to express my profound appreciation for the refuge you helped provide for victims of Hurricane Katrina. 

You helped us provide a humanitarian and compassionate response to our neighbors in need.

With Hurricane Rita projected to make landfall in Texas later this week...
...it is likely that our efforts to assist evacuees will have to be expanded.

That is why it is my intention...
...among many other actions we are taking right now...
...to wave the hotel-motel tax for those who are displaced by this approaching storm.

Travel and tourism officials have not only played an important role in meeting the great challenge presented by Hurricane Katrina...
    ...but they also play an important role everyday in the Texas economy. 

And I want you to know that the state of Texas is going to continue to work with you to keep this sector of the economy strong.

Earlier this year the Division of Economic Development and Tourism in my office began an aggressive worldwide advertising campaign on several national television networks and in dozens of regional, national and international publications. 

I’m proud to say that those ads received an unprecedented amount of positive feedback from 2.7 million individuals...
...nearly doubling our initial goal.
And as you can see on the walls all around you, we are going to keep the momentum going by actively promoting Texas as the premier destination for business meetings and conventions.  

(pause)

Today in Texas, every sector of our economy is growing, and more families are finding good jobs...
...and that is a real tribute to the work you are doing to sell Texas to the world.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my twenty years in public service it is this:...
...when you’re on top, everyone is gunning for you. 

And in the high-stakes competition for jobs and economic growth...
...we can’t afford to rest on our laurels while the rest of the pack tries to catch up.

That’s why this year we have continued to take new steps that will free employers to flourish. 
We fixed a broken workers’ compensation system so that injured workers get the care they need and employers ultimately see lower healthcare costs.

We cracked down on frivolous lawsuits...
...invested new funds in workforce training...
...and set aside $380 million for technology and job creation initiatives.

Each of these reforms passed by the legislature is important because they are helping us build an environment that rewards the entrepreneurial spirit and those who create jobs.

But one of the most important initiatives that will lay a solid foundation for future prosperity is one that I first discussed publicly at this very forum last year...
...our Industry Cluster Initiative, which will help Texas attract the high-tech industries that will form the backbone of tomorrow’s economy...   
...such as biotechnology, aerospace and computers.

The goal of this initiative is simple:...
...to develop the tools to attract groups of related high-tech companies to the same geographic region. 

Fostering the development of clusters allows employers to benefit from an abundance of ideas and talent in close proximity...
...with the ultimate goal being faster growth, new technological developments and the creation of more jobs.

Over the past year we have put together a great team of business leaders who helped Texas assess where we are...
...and develop some specific strategies on how to get where we need to go. 

Last week, this working group submitted a comprehensive report to my office that includes the recommendations of more than 700 industry leaders from across the state.

Because of their work, we have now identified key employers in each region of the state that are interested in developing clusters...
...we have mapped out the availability of academic and financial resources...
...and we know what kind of support is needed from government to foster the development of clusters in six separate industries.

We also have a roadmap for reforms that the legislature will consider in the future...
...including recommendations to create a seamless system of education from pre-Kindergarten through college...
...and to improve workforce training and development.

I will also be working with state agencies to implement key policy reforms that will help grow clusters in every region of the state.

What’s important about this cluster initiative is that for the first time in Texas history, we have a coordinated, market-driven economic development strategy that focuses on the areas of the economy with the greatest growth potential. 

And because we have a better idea about how the success of individual businesses within a cluster are linked...
    ...state and local economic development organizations can target limited resources to leverage maximum growth.

Attracting investment...
...whether it is the investment brought by industry clusters, job expansions by existing employers or the influx of family vacation dollars...
...will not only help us build a stronger economy...
...but better communities with families that have the resources to afford their dreams.

That is my great vision as governor as Texas...
...and it one I know that all of you share. 

Each of you has made an immeasurable contribution to that vision...
...and I thank you for all your hard work.  May God bless you.

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