Economic Development Organizations key players in Texas’ success
Texas is becoming a popular state for corporations looking for the optimum business climate, and it’s due in large part to the work of Texas’ more than 700 economic development organizations (EDOs) serving 25 metropolitan areas, more than 40 micropolitan areas and greater than 1,200 incorporated cities in Texas. We like to describe economic development in Texas as a team sport, and these EDOs are key players on that team.
The Texas Economic Development Corporation (TxEDC) is a statewide, privately funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in unique partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism. Our mission is to market Texas to site selectors and CEOs of corporations looking to relocate and/or expand their businesses. TxEDC works directly with our investors to provide strategies and the latest marketing messages and information to maximize economic development success. We’re grateful that Texas has so much to offer these companies and their employees — low taxes, reasonable regulations, great central location, high quality of life, and the second largest skilled workforce in the nation.
But EDOs, which may be privately or publicly funded, are focused on the economic development of a specific geographic region, such as municipalities, counties and other groups defined by regional features. EDOs come in all shapes and sizes, but their focus is typically a “local up” approach to economic development in Texas. Given that interested projects often first contact community EDO representatives, EDOs often make up Texas’ starting lineup.
What gives local and regional EDOs the edge is their first-hand knowledge on the latest land availability, their relationships with key local government officials — mayors and county judges and other publicly elected officials — their knowledge of available infrastructure (water, electric, rail, fiber and broadband access, etc.), and their access to and knowledge of workforce skills and talent.
EDOs also work closely with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism in responding to economic development project inquiries to ensure Texas provides the most robust response possible.
Regional approach to economic development in Texas
EDOs tell me that the key to success is highlighting their efforts on the regional benefits — in addition to the benefits of Texas’ premier business climate. It’s important for EDOs to have a firm grasp on what their region has to offer prospective businesses and what they and their regional leadership want the region to become in three, five and seven years from now.
The same regional approach to economic development is true for EDOs in Texas’ medium-sized and rural communities. For example, groups like the Texas Forest Country Partnership, the High Ground of Texas and the Borderplex Alliance have been successful as economic development advocates for markets in the wide-open spaces outside Texas’ metropolitan areas.
Last week’s historic winter storm took a toll on Texas. But Texans responded in true Texas fashion — selflessly helping neighbors and communities in their time of need. Our EDO partners were right there on the front lines doing what they always do, serving their communities, regions and the state. Texans have faced challenges before and will again, but I am confident that Texas’ best days lie ahead.
To our EDO partners across the state of Texas, thank you for the critical work you did, are doing and will do to ensure Texas remains the best state to live work and play.
Robert Allen is President and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corp. Follow Robert and TxEDC on Twitter at @GoBigInTexas.