By Anne Cosgrove
From the January / February 2024 Issue
Texas has been named Business Facilities’ 2023 State of the Year, the magazine’s annual recognition of a robust business-friendly environment, including legislation and incentives, workforce development programs, and the breadth of companies selecting the state for corporate relocation and expansion projects. The Lone Star State has a history of a strong pro-business environment, and actions at the state, regional, and community levels have the results to prove it. In 2023, Texas attracted corporate relocation and expansion investments from an array of industry sectors, from the burgeoning electric vehicles and semiconductor industries to corporate headquarters and data centers.
This is not the first State of the Year recognition for the Lone Star State, having been selected four times since Business Facilities introduced this award in 2007. Consistent positive performance of the Texas business climate is reflected with State of the Year designations in 2007, 2012, 2016, and 2019. More recently, in July 2023 the state was recognized in Business Facilities’ Annual State Rankings Report for #1 Best Business Climate.
Speaking to Business Facilities about Texas being chosen as 2023 State of the Year, Governor Greg Abbott shared, “Texas is now the eighth-largest economy in the world thanks to our best-in-class business climate and impressive economic development track record. With a GDP of $2.4 trillion, the Texas economy is larger than that of Russia, Canada, Italy, and others, proving to business leaders and workers alike that opportunity in Texas is endless.”
He added, “Texas serves as a beacon of opportunity and economic prosperity for the nation and the world, proving that when given the freedom to aspire and the foundation to succeed, businesses and people flourish in Texas.”
In December 2023, Gov. Abbott marked this momentum with the Texas economy expanding faster than the nation as a whole for the fourth consecutive quarter. Second quarter 2023 real GDP grew in Texas at an annual rate of 4.9% — ahead of the United States real GDP which grew at 2.1%.
According to November 2022 data from the Texas Demographics Center, the “Texas Triangle” — composed of the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin metro areas — was home to nearly 70% of the state’s 30.3 million residents. December 2023 data from the U.S. Census Bureau reported that between July 2022 and July 2023, Texas population rose by close to a half million. The growth rate for that period was 1.6%, the third highest in the nation.
The state’s workforce reflects this migration. Gov. Abbott remarked, “We [have] reached a new record for the largest labor force ever in Texas history—now at more than 15.1 million strong. Our young, growing, highly skilled, and diverse workforce provides a steady stream of talent for businesses in all areas of the state to grow and thrive.”
Across The State, Every Industry Under The Sun
From the metro areas of Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin to the mid-size cities and smaller communities, businesses are choosing Texas for the diversity of opportunity—supported with the state-level resources for business. A laser focus by economic developers across the state to foster established businesses as well as innovative start-ups is paying off for communities of all sizes.
Together, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism and the Texas Economic Development Corporation (TxEDC), makes up the cornerstone of Gov. Abbott’s agenda for building and maintaining Texas’ economic success.
Adriana Cruz, Executive Director of Texas Economic Development & Tourism, told Business Facilities, “As we look back over the events of 2023, it’s clear that our state’s many successes and record-breaking achievements are thanks to the strong economic development partnerships at the statewide, regional, and local levels in Texas. We are thankful to work with these partners to keep Texas a global leader in economic expansion, a national leader in job creation, and the best state to live, work, and raise a family.”
Said Gov. Abbott, “In Texas, we want businesses to succeed. Because when businesses succeed, all Texans succeed.”
In May 2023, Tesla’s broke ground on a lithium refinery in the greater Corpus Christi area. Once complete, the facility will represent an investment of more than $1 billion in southwest Texas. The 1,200+ acre site will be the location of the first industrial deployment of an acid-free lithium refining route. This process eliminates the use of hazardous reagents and byproducts in favor of more inert options. The byproduct from this facility, a mixture of sand and limestone, is useful in the production of construction materials, making beneficial use of traditional waste streams.
The construction effort will create nearly 1,000 construction jobs, and the facility will employ upwards of 250 full time employees, including production technicians, operations managers, and engineering roles to support ongoing plant maintenance and optimization.
In September 2022, Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) announced it would invest $60 million to expand its Bridgestone Bandag, LLC manufacturing plant in Abilene. The 50,000-square-foot expansion will meet the growing demand for tread rubber products, driven by the growth of the company’s retread business.
Said Barry Owens, Senior Vice President, Bridgestone Americas Manufacturing Group, at the time, “Today we celebrate the growth and commitment of this plant and this community, with new investment and a physical expansion driven by growing demand for our products and, just as fundamentally, by this team’s commitment to delivering innovation and superior quality for our customers here and around the world.”
“Our existing businesses remain the backbone of our community, and we are honored to partner with Bridgestone Bandag, which has continued to invest in Abilene for over 50 years,” said Misty Mayo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA). “Bridgestone Bandag’s expansion project is representative of the type of work the DCOA prioritizes – building long-term partnerships with local existing companies.”
In July 2023, CoreWeave, a specialized cloud provider for large-scale artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, announced the opening of a new data center facility in Plano, TX. The data center, CoreWeave’s first in Texas, is equipped with $1.6 billion worth of the most modern high performance computing technology.
“We are pleased to partner with Plano and the local community to open this cutting-edge data center which will create the high skilled, well-paying new jobs of the future,” said CoreWeave CEO and Co-founder Michael Intrator. “This facility will help meet the unprecedented demand for high-performance cloud solutions needed to power next generation industries including artificial intelligence, machine learning, pixel streaming and other emerging technologies that will benefit all of our citizens.”
Legislation Adds Agility To Texas Business Climate
At the end of 2022, the Texas Economic Development Act (known as Chapter 313) expired. Established in 2001, Chapter 313 had been key to successful business attraction with corporate tax breaks central to its structure.
As 2023 began and the 88th Legislative Session to take place in the spring, Gov. Abbott and Texas lawmakers were proactive in creating a program that would serve to replace Chapter 313. This represented an opportunity to offer another economic development tool that would meet the needs of the current and next generation of relocation and expansion projects.
Signed into law in June 2023, the Jobs, Energy, Technology & Innovation (JETI) Act (or, House Bill 5) also for tax abatements and other incentives for large-scale business developments, expansions, and relocations. The program is poised to accept applications in January.
Eligible projects for purposes of the JETI Act include the construction or expansion of a new or existing facility. Examples include:
- A facility related to the provision of utility services, including an electric generation facility that is considered to be dispatchable because the facility’s output can be controlled primarily by forces under human control
- A facility related to the development of natural resources
- A facility engaged in the research, development, or manufacture of high-tech equipment or technology
- An expansion or the construction of critical infrastructure.
Also passed this legislative session, the Texas CHIPS Act takes advantage of opportunities through the federal CHIPS and Science Act by creating the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Consortium (TSIC) and Texas Semiconductor Innovation Fund (TSIF). These programs were established to leverage Texas’ investments in the semiconductor industry, encourage semiconductor-related companies to expand in the state, further develop the expertise and capacity at Texas higher education institutions, and maintain the state’s position as the nation’s leader in semiconductor manufacturing. The TSIC and the TSIF will be administered by the Texas CHIPS Office, a newly formed division within the Economic Development & Tourism office.
Other new programs include the creation of the Texas Space Commission and the Texas Aerospace Research & Space Economy Consortium, the Texas Small & Rural Community Success Fund Program, specialty business courts, and more.
Said Gov. Abbott, “Texas will continue to uphold our focus on making strategic investments to maintain our competitive advantages and to ensure we have the economic development tools and programs to remain the premier destination for business in 2024 and beyond.”
Investing In Workforce, Education Powers Growth
The Texas labor market reached historic highs in 2023, breaking records in employment growth and civilian labor force. In December, the state’s seasonally adjusted job count reached 14,103,300 jobs, an increase of 19,100 over the month—marking 27 consecutive months of new series employment highs.
Texas’ employment growth rate continued to outpace the nation by a full percentage point, with 2.7% annual growth in the state from December 2022 to December 2023, compared to the nation’s 1.7%.
“Texas’ record-breaking employment growth remains a clear sign of the state’s economic strength,” said Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Bryan Daniel. “We finished 2023 with thousands more jobs in the state than at any other time in history.”
Statewide, seven of 11 major industries in Texas achieved series highs. Trade, Transportation, and Utilities saw significant growth with 7,100 jobs added, while 6,800 jobs were added in Private Education and Health Services and Leisure and Hospitality, respectively.
“The month-over-month increase in jobs is good news for every Texan,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Alberto Treviño III. “This continued growth shows that job seekers are taking advantage of career opportunities in the Lone Star State. TWC has the resources, services, and training to upskill job seekers and meet the demands of Texas employers.”
“The data shows Texas employers continue to grow and thrive as all major industries in the state expanded over the year,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Joe Esparza. “To continue this growth, TWC and our 28 Workforce Solutions partners offer an array of resources for businesses to upskill, create new jobs and keep pace with the rapidly growing Texas economy.”
Team Texas Works Together
With a pro-growth attitude, Texas moves at the speed of business. By cutting red tape and burdensome regulations, the state’s teams are focused on enabling businesses to invest more quickly and create new jobs for Texans.
Said Gov. Abbott, “There’s a common thread of teamwork and collaboration in our approach to economic development across this great state, and these partnerships are the key to our economic development success. I look forward to continuing to work alongside our state, local, and regional economic development partners, as well as leaders in business and industry, as we keep Texas the best place for business—a title we have held for 19 years in a row.”
2023 STATE OF THE YEAR:
Top 10 Contenders
These states showed strong economic growth, or key moves to pursue growth, in 2023.
(States are listed in alphabetical order).
During calendar year 2023, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and economic partners successfully won over 95 competitive projects from companies that committed to creating more than 24,600 projected new jobs while investing over $10.3 billion in the state. Key actions throughout the year furthered Arizona’s semiconductor leadership including strategic education partnerships and significant projects. In July, Arizona State University (ASU) and Applied Materials announced plans to create a $270 million Materials-To-Fab Center (MTF) Center in Tempe. The MTF Center, a shared research, development and prototype facility, is supported by a $30 million investment from the ACA. In November, the University of Arizona (UArizona) and the ACA announced an expansion of the University’s Micro/Nano Fabrication Center (MNFC) in Tucson. The MNFC expansion will also include additional training efforts to continue growing the state’s skilled workforce.
Florida continues to outpace the nation in over-the-year private sector job growth rate for 32 consecutive months as of November 2023 data. Florida was also ranked #1 for entrepreneurship by researchers at The Digital Project Manager with more than 2.8 million business formations under Governor DeSantis’ leadership. Floridians continue to show their confidence in the opportunities available to them with continued growth in the labor force by 17,000 and private sector employment by 28,300 over-the-month in November 2023. Florida’s labor force has grown or remained steady for 37 consecutive months with an over-the-year growth rate of 3.2 percent in November 2023—faster than the national rate of 2.3 percent over the same time period.
Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) announced during Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). Between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, total investments in facility expansions and new locations totaled more than $24 billion, resulting in 38,400 new jobs through 426 projects. When excluding the two largest projects in state history—Rivian and Hyundai Motor Group—from the previous year’s job creation figures, total jobs as a result of FY23 projects exceeded the previous record by more than 2,800. Annual investment totals have also increased by 131% over the last three years. Eighty-two percent of new jobs created and more than $20 billion in investments are on their way to communities outside the 10-county Atlanta region. Still, Metro Atlanta attracted $3.6 billion in investment. Expansions account for 71% of total projects, and new locations for 65 percent of new jobs.
Governor Eric J. Holcomb and Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg shared 2023 highlights related to the work of Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). The Hoosier State saw its seventh consecutive record-breaking year with 208 companies committed to locate or expand, investing more than $28.7 billion (+29% from 2022) in operations and creating more than 21,000 jobs. This marks the highest capital investment and annual record for average wages since the IEDC was established in 2005. It was a robust year for foreign direct investment, with 37 foreign-owned businesses based across 17 countries committing to locating or growing in Indiana. These firms plan to invest more than $20.6 billion and create more than 8,500 jobs. Of these commitments, 18 are international businesses locating in Indiana for the first time, accounting for $5.3 billion in planned capital investment.
In 2023, Missouri’s growth included the expansion of nine companies, among 90 total business projects, that the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) supported during 2023. The more than $55 million invested and up to 296 new jobs created by the companies are part of a total $2.9 billion in investment and more than 5,100 jobs created since January as a result of DED’ support. As the state’s number one incentive tool for expansion and retention, the Missouri Works Program helps businesses access capital through withholdings or tax credits to embark on facility expansions and create jobs. This program can also help businesses purchase equipment to maintain its facility. Missouri One Start is the state’s workforce recruitment and training division.
The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) is creating and operating strategic programs to support Nevada’s emerging innovation economy. Recent examples are the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), EDA TechHub, and NSF Engines. Startups and entrepreneur companies play a crucial role in the Innovation Economy, driven by Innovation-Based Economic Development (IBED). IBED encompasses five core elements: increasing research capacity, commercializing research, fostering entrepreneurship, increasing access to capital, and building a technically skilled workforce. GOED approved eight companies that will receive $7,249,200 in tax abatements. These companies are projected to create 533 jobs in the next two years at an average weighted hourly wage of $32.86. That figure is expected to grow to 724 jobs in five years. Additionally, these companies will make capital investments of $72,330,374 and generate $65,113,684 in new tax revenues over the 10-year abatement period.
In 2023, the state announced 14,114 new jobs, representing 134 business recruitment, expansion, or rural development projects engaged with the North Carolina Department of Commerce or its team at the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. These projects will bring $12.9 billion of capital investment into the state. A majority of the year’s projects located or expanded in the state’s more rural or economically distressed areas, with 78% choosing either a Tier 1 or Tier 2 county, as delineated by North Carolina’s economic development tier system. Significant projects included Siemens Mobility and ProKidney. Rural development grants managed by Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division provided support for projects involving 1,753 new jobs and private sector investment of $423.7 million. A total of $21.3 million in rural grant monies was awarded by the state’s Rural Infrastructure Authority.
The Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville is projecting a more favorable economic outlook for Tennessee in 2024 than the U.S. as a whole. In 2023, the state of Tennessee has a population of 7,194,238, having grown an annualized 1.2% over the five years to 2023, which ranks it 9th out of all 50 US states by growth rate. Tennessee’s gross state product (GSP) in 2023 reached $375.8b, with growth of 20.6k% over the 5 years to 2023. Businesses in Tennessee employed a total of 3,279,765 people in 2023, with average annual employment growth over the past five years of 1913.9%. The top three sectors by total employment are Manufacturing, Real Estate and Rental and Leasing, Healthcare and Social Assistance, while the unemployment rate across the state in 2023 was 3.3%.
The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity announced businesses continued to perform and further invest in the state during the 2023 fiscal year (FY23). This fiscal year, Utah experienced a greater than 500% increase in new capital investments compared to the previous year. The average capital expenditure per project rose due to an increase in investments in industries such as technology and automation. From July 2022 to June 2023, 16 companies participated in the state’s EDTIF program and are collectively projected to create 3,630 new jobs, make $12,347,247,968 in new capital investments, pay more than $574,641,262 in new state tax revenue, and provide $4,083,879,940 in new state wages over the next 20 years.
In fiscal year 2023, Virginia economic development reported a record-breaking $40.8 billion in new capital investment. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership assisted with 89 projects, representing 10,866 jobs. Meanwhile, Virginia exports over $51 billion in goods and services annually. Exports support more than 257,000 jobs and generating $2 billion in annual tax revenue. In Henrico County in the Greater Richmond region, the Innsbrook Technology Zone will serve as a catalyst for reigniting office space with a live-work-play community Innsbrook. BHE GT&S, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, will establish its headquarters in the Innsbrook Technology Zone, with an investment of $16 million and creation of 200 jobs at the location.
(Images: Adobe Stock; created by Business Facilities)