Dec. 20, 2004--Texas Governor Rick Perry has proposed a bold new measure that would double the state's current commitment to economic development.
The ambitious $600 million plan is aiming to put $300 million in the existing Texas Enterprise Fund, which the state has already used to lure job-thirsty companies like Texas Instruments and Home Depot to the Lone Star State.
The other half will go to the Emerging Technology Fund, which promises to boost research in the emerging nanotech and biotech spaces in addition to serving as a financial bridge to foster relationships between state colleges and private companies.
"The Emerging Technology Fund will boost Texas' reputation as a global leader in the technology economy, usher in revolutionary developments in science and medicine and bring the high-paying jobs of tomorrow to Texas," Gov. Perry said in a speech in Houston.
Gov. Perry hasn't been specific as to where the money will come from, and Texas Democrats aren't so sure the state can afford this economic splurge. The state's Democratic party spokesman Mike Lavigne called the proposed plan a "boondoggle," and suggested that the money would be better spent on civic entities like education.
But the Texas Enterprise Fund, in existence for 18 months, has been credited with bringing several companies to Texas, including Countrywide Financial, the country's largest mortgage lender, which will create 7,500 new jobs over the next five years, marking the nation's largest job-creation agreement in more than four years.
"We have to give financial incentive to companies who would like to come to Texas," Kathy Walt, Gov. Perry's press secretary said. "We need to be forward-thinking when it comes to our economy and this plan does just that."
Andy Rittler from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) echoes the praise, saying that bringing in big companies creates immediate jobs but also generates a "ripple effect" that can be felt in smaller companies.
"When these large companies come in they're going to need a support system," Rittler said. "Engineers, IT professionals, etc., and that directly benefits small businesses in the area."
Several other state-sanctioned programs exist that are similar to Gov. Perry's proposal. California has recently committed $3 billion over the next 10 years for stem-cell research and Arkansas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas and Florida also have similar plans to boost economic funding.
"This is a bandwagon," Rittler said. "We need to jump on it."