Texas Drives the Nation's Economy
Expansions and relocations bring business to the Lone Star State.
Like the adventurous settlers who came looking for opportunity, many business pioneers have prospered in Texas. Texas Instruments, Dell and Southwest Airlines "“ once innovative startups "“ have all grown into major players in the global economy. In fact, no other state is home to more Fortune 1000 headquarters. Texas ranked No. 1 on the 2012 Fortune 1000 list, with 103 companies, and No. 2 on the 2012 Fortune 500 list with 52 companies based in the state, including No. 1 ExxonMobil. And the state is home to some of the nation's best-known private companies, including Neiman Marcus and grocery chain HEB. Business Friendly One of the elements attracting growth and investment is the state's favorable tax structure, with no personal or corporate income taxes levied. In fact, Texas ranked ninth on the Tax Foundation's State Business Climate Tax Index in 2012, providing a favorable environment for business expansion and relocation. Entrepreneur Erica Douglass moved her tech company from California to Austin. Whoosh Traffic provides a suite of easy-to-use SEO tools to clients who want more site traffic. Douglass says she lived all of her adult life in California, but fell in love with Austin when she visited for the SXSW convention. "Austin is young and vibrant," she says. "It's a great startup community and has a strong business environment. Taxes in California are stifling. In Austin, you don't need to sell your soul to pay for a mortgage." Douglass says she was happy to find a local community that is close knit. "Everybody knows everybody, and people are willing to extend a hand," she says. "We've had no problem finding qualified people to fill our positions." A Climate for Growth Several other companies have announced recent expansions and relocations. ADP, the global human resources, payroll, tax and benefits administration solutions giant, is expanding its operations in El Paso, creating 585 jobs and $22 million in capital investment. Credit card giant Visa Inc. will build a global IT center in Austin, creating nearly 800 new jobs within five years, with an average annual wage of more than $113,000. Layne Christensen Consulting, a company that provides a number of services related to water management, mineral exploration and energy, consolidated its corporate offices to the Houston area in December 2012. "Establishing a collaborative and sustainable culture is part of Layne's overall strategy," says Jenny Caulk, corporate communications manager. "The Houston area provides us with greater access to the world's natural resources clients. The move also placed us in the fourth-largest city in the United States, enhancing access to current and potential clients, as well as bringing together corporate functions and divisional leadership." "We have a very business-friendly environment in terms of low-cost tax structure," says Fred Welch, vice president of regional economic development for the Greater Houston Partnership. "Houston is also a modern, clean city, with amenities a young person would like to have and opportunities to find employment." California-based oil company Chevron Corp. is moving 800 jobs -- about a quarter of its current headquarters staff -- to Houston over the next two years. Software service provider TEKsystems Global Services is creating a new IT center in Irving, creating 500 jobs and a capital investment of $4.8 million. And USAA, a leading financial services provider for the military community and their families, is expanding its San Antonio headquarters facility, bringing up to 1,000 new jobs by the end of 2015. The company already employs more than 16,400 people in San Antonio. Something for Everyone "Texas has become the Third Coast," says John F. Crawford, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas. "We're drawing big companies because we have a strong economy, recreational opportunities, geography and culture. Bounce that off of what's happening in California, New York and Illinois, and you can't compare our taxation and regulation issues. It's a no-brainer why companies are looking at Texas as a relocation spot. From quality of life to work and play, Texas is head and shoulders above other places. We have a positive check in each one of those boxes."