Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s economic development strategy is simple: Have the federal government do what is constitutionally mandated and then get out of the way of the states. Let them compete, he says.
The companies will go to the states that are the most nimble, with the right mix of regulations and taxes, the ability to educate workers and incentives that lessen risk, he said.
“Competition is uncomfortable,” he said Wednesday in Rock Hill. “But it’s what has allowed America to maintain its edge.”
Perry stressed his philosophy with several different examples Wednesday before business leaders from York, Chester and Lancaster counties during a meeting at Physicians Choice Laboratories in Riverwalk Business Park.
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The business meeting was one of the last events in Perry’s two-day swing through South Carolina. Wednesday’s events included time with Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and Republican U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land.
South Carolina was the state where Perry’s 2012 run for the GOP presidential nomination came to an end two days before the state’s primary. Perry said he won’t make a decision whether to run again in 2016 until sometime next year.
Examples of how Perry’s economic strategy works ranged from fracking for natural gas to business incentives to Texas’ success in business recruitment.
He spoke of George Mitchell who believed he had a new way of extracting natural gas. Mitchell, a Texas A&M graduate, worked on his idea in Texas and “he changed the world,” Perry said. His efforts were successful because “he lived in a state that allowed him to implement it.”
In recruiting businesses to Texas, Perry has relied on a discretionary fund that allows him to offer millions in incentives. The fund is similar to one that Gov. Haley has in South Carolina and was used successfully in the recent recruitment of Giti Tire to Chester County and LPL Financial and the Lash Group from Charlotte to Fort Mill.
Perry said Texas has invested $500 million in business recruitment that has brought $24 billion in investment and 70,000 jobs to the state.
“Every bank would love to have that return on investment,” he said.
The incentives and business climate in Texas were factors in one of his administration’s biggest economic successes, getting Toyota to move its U.S. headquarters from Torrance, Calif., to Plano, Texas.
Toyota had been in Torrance for 60 years when it considered relocating. Charlotte was thought to be on Toyota’s early list. Texas, Perry said, wasn’t.
“We fell down on our knees begging,” he said.
Perry said Texas didn’t land the headquarters on location alone, although Toyota officials had said they were looking to move closer to their manufacturing plants, most of them in the South or East.
He said the company left California because of taxes and regulatory polices. Texas also offered $40 million in incentives from the governor’s fund.
“They saw a nimble and pliant government that was willing to work with them,” Perry said.
To the Toyota workers that lost jobs in California, Perry said, “Come to Texas.”
Those that moved had the opportunity to sell their houses in California, buy a bigger house in Texas with better schools. “They had the opportunity to move to an overall better climate and keep more of their money.”