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Texas again ranks as top state for best business climate | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-06-25 12:58:00

(The Center Square) – Texas keeps ranking first – from job creation to economic expansion to best business climate every year. This month and year was no different.

Texas was recognized as the Best Business Climate in the U.S. in 2023 for the second consecutive year by Business Facilities magazine in its 20th Annual Rankings Report.

“This year's recognition of Texas is underpinned by sustained economic development activity throughout the entire state. From the Gulf Coast to the Panhandle, and from east to west, communities large and small are attracting a diverse range of companies,” Business Facilities Editorial Director Anne Cosgrove said. “Advanced manufacturing, professional services, and data centers are among the business types locating in the state in 2023 and into 2024. The teamwork between the Texas Economic Development Corporation (TxEDC), the Office of Governor Abbott, and communities throughout the state are propelling long-term economic growth for business and residents.”

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The magazine evaluated “more than 60 factors pertinent to site selection teams for business relocation and expansion investments,” and the rankings serve “as a valuable resource for corporate site selectors and site selection consultants,” it says.

The Best Business Climate ranking also considers economic development activity, including capital investment and job creation announcements and implementation, as well as each state's economic strength, regulatory and tax climate, infrastructure, and workforce availability.

It notes that Texas welcomed more than 1,200 expansion and relocation projects in 2023, which are expected to create nearly $60 billion in capital investment and more than 35,000 jobs. Last year, through April 2024, 24 companies relocated to Texas choosing it for their corporate headquarters. Texas also led the U.S. last year in having the most foreign direct investment, with $20.3 billion in capital investment across 235 projects, it notes.

In response, Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Texas continues to lead the nation as the Best Business Climate. When businesses succeed, Texans succeed. That is why we are outpacing the nation in job growth and expanding in both existing and emerging industries. Texas offers unmatched business advantages – a welcoming business climate, no corporate or personal income tax, a highly skilled and diverse workforce, easy access to global markets, robust infrastructure, and a reasonable regulatory environment.

Texas, as the eighth-largest economy in the world, broke many records and ranked first in many categories last year, The Center Square reported. Its economy grew at a faster rate than the national rate, its real GDP growth rate was 5.7% compared to the 2.5% national rate. In the third quarter of 2023, Texas's real GDP was $2.5 trillion, with a growth rate of 7.7%. Every month, Texas continues to break its previous jobs records and leads the U.S. in job growth, The Center Square reported.

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“With a skilled and diverse workforce, easy access to global markets, reasonable regulations, and an exceptional quality of life, we are focused on remaining the best state for business in the nation,” Adriana Cruz, executive director of Texas Economic Development & Tourism, said.

TEDT also notes that among state rankings, in 2023, Texas ranked first for having the best business climate, first for semiconductor production, second in food processing, second in cyber security, and third in aerospace and defense. In metro rankings last year, Austin ranked first for life sciences growth, Georgetown was the fastest growing city with a population of over 50,000, Baytown had the second-best industrial park and Bowie County the third best in the country. The top five corporate headquarters in the country were in Dallas/Irving/Plano, TEDT notes.

Major new multibillion dollar projects are underway, according to TEDT, including NextDecade Corp. investing $8 billion in Brownsville, Sempra Infrastructure investing $13 billion in Port Arthur, Chevron Phillips investing $8.5 billion in Orange, ExxonMobil investing $2 billion in Beaumont, and Graphic Packaging International Investing $1 billion in Waco.

The latest manufacturing announcement also came last week with Toyota Texas saying it was expanding its operation in the San Antonio area. Its latest investment of $531 million will construct a new 500,000-square-foot production facility and create more than 400 new jobs.

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The Center Square

Patrick to CenterPoint: ‘A freight train is coming, you better be prepared’ | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-07-15 11:50:00

(The Center Square) – Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a warning to CenterPoint Energy, the largest utility provider in the Houston area.

Patrick, who leads the Texas Senate, did so as more than one million people in the Houston area are still without power one week after Hurricane Beryl made landfall. Nearly three million were without power in the immediate aftermath, with power restoration taking nearly a week for most residents.

“I know everyone at CenterPoint who's in an air-conditioned office is watching,” Patrick said at a Sunday conference alongside Gov. Greg Abbott. “A freight train is coming. You better be prepared. Whether you're at the top, or any part of management who oversaw this response or preparation, everybody's job should be on the line. We will not, and cannot, tolerate this.”

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CenterPoint “totally failed in preparation and in response and they have lost respect from the city of Houston and the surrounding areas that they service,” Patrick added.

He said the immediate need was to restore power for people who are “suffering out … in 100-degree heat that have not had power, and won't have it, for another day or two or more.”

But a reckoning is coming, he said, after the state legislature holds hearings in August, following up on warnings he issued last week, The Center Square reported.

“Does CenterPoint still look at Houston as a priority of their business?” Patrick said would be one of his first questions at the hearings. “They're a different company than they used to be. Is it all about the bottom line … and not about human life?” he asked.

Patrick was referring to concerns Abbott raised about allegations that CenterPoint was “penny pinching and cutting corners in ways that slowed the recovery process.” The allegations will be investigated, Abbott said, adding, “We must know if CenterPoint is protecting Texans or was it protecting its own pocketbook.”

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Patrick said CenterPoint not delivering electricity can lead to people dying, adding that CenterPoint was “not prepared. They did not think this was going to be a serious storm. They didn't think it was going to hit Houston, it's obvious by their preparation.

“CenterPoint has to understand, as does every utility company on the coast, that anytime there's a tropical storm in the Gulf, whether it's predicted to be a hurricane or not, you have to prepare as if it's going to be the worst storm to hit Houston where the biggest population is or any area they cover.

“The state of Texas has to pray for the best and prepare for the worst. CenterPoint did not prepare for even the least. That's why we are here. This is not tolerable.”

In addition to listing extensive failures and demands he made of CenterPoint, Abbott expressed concern for linemen's safety who are working to restore power and being attacked by enraged Houstonians.

There are linemen “across this area who are being physically threatened, sometimes attacked by people on the streets, endangering their lives and discouraging them from even going out into the field and getting the power back on,” Abbott said.

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“There is no reason why anybody here should ever be threatening the life of anybody else. If you're angry about the lack of power, you're taking it out on the wrong person. If you're wanting to get the power back on, your actions that intimidate or threaten the linemen or whoever is trying to get the power back on, you're not speeding up the process of getting the power back on, you're slowing that process down.”

Patrick said there was one attack by gunfire on Thursday, one attack on Friday and another on Saturday.

He said the legislature would be looking at increasing the penalties for crimes committed against energy workers and “ratchet it up.” He said some of linemen who came “from states all over the country, they turned around and went home. Who's going to come to Texas and help you if you are shooting at them? That must stop.

“There will always be idiots. There will always be people who've had too much to drink and people have had too much anger for whatever reason. There is no excuse no matter how much you've been sweltering in the heat for criminal behavior and to attack someone who is trying to help you.”

He said the legislature “is going to stop that” and perpetrators “are going to face a long time in in jail if you ever do that.”

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Abbott said if CenterPoint doesn't comply with his demands, the state may have “to reconsider the territorial region that CenterPoint … is … mismanaging. … It's time to reevaluate whether or not CenterPoint should have such a large territory.”

Patrick said CenterPoint “better respond” or the Senate would be “looking at the territory you represent now.”

On Monday, CenterPoint said it had “restored power to more than 2 million customers and expect to reach approximately 98% restoration by the end of the day on Wednesday, July 17. We are repositioning crews and equipment to address areas with significant structural damage to restore those without power.”

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The Center Square

Texas Democrats condemn assassination attempt of Trump as ‘political violence’ | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-07-14 14:44:00

(The Center Square) – Republican and Democratic leaders in Texas are condemning the assassination attempt of former President Donald Trump.

While Republicans have referred to it as an assassination attempt and used it as a rallying cry to support Trump's reelection bid for president, members of Texas' Democratic congressional delegation have described it as “political violence” and most don't mention President Joe Biden in their remarks.

One congressional Democrat appeared to blame Trump for the shooting and a Democratic state senator used the shooting as an opportunity to advance his anti-gun position.

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The Democratic Party of Texas had yet to issue a statement as of 2 p.m. Central on Sunday, but nearly all Democrats in Texas' congressional delegation condemned the attack Saturday night.

None described what happened as an assassination attempt. Nearly all expressed concern for the wellbeing of Trump, his family, and those attending the rally.

U.S. Reps. Jasmine Crockett of Dallas, Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, Veronica Escobar of El Paso, Sylvia Garcia of Houston, Vicente Gonzalez of Brownsville and Lizzie Fletcher of Houston issued separate statements condemning the act of “political violence.” They said, “political violence in all forms must be condemned,” “has no place in our country,” is “absolutely unacceptable,” is “never acceptable” is “never the answer” and “has no place in our country.”

U.S. Rep. Greg Casar of San Antonio agreed with a statement of Biden's expressing concern for Trump's wellbeing and said, “political violence – against Trump or anyone else – has no place in our politics or our country.”

U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee of Houston, said, “The violence that occurred today at a political rally is deeply disturbing and goes counter to everything the United States represents as the world's oldest democracy. Political violence has no place in the United States. This incident should be a catalyst for renewing our commitment to not allow violence to infect the political life of our nation.”

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U.S. Rep. Al Green of Houston called for unity. Referring to the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., he said, “Dr. King was right, we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools. My thoughts and prayers are with you @realDonaldTrump, the family of the life lost as well as those who were injured.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin appeared to blame Trump for Saturday's attack. He said, “Violence begets violence, whether directed at Trump or inspired by him. I strongly condemn all acts of violence and hope that with quick law-enforcement action, all are safe at the Trump rally and he has suffered no lasting damage. In America, we must make our voices heard by ballots, not bullets.”

Doggett was the first Democratic member of Congress to call for Biden to step down and not run for reelection.

Commentors on X, formerly known as Twitter, criticized Doggett's statement, saying, “it was a trash statement by a coward” and Doggett is a “horrible human being.” Others said his comment was “horrendous,” “ghoulish,” “disgusting,” and called on him to “resign in shame.”

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth appears to be the only Democrat in the Texas congressional delegation who did not issue a statement.

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One state senator used the shooting as an opportunity to express his support for gun control.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, said, “Guns have no place at political rallies. Or in elementary schools. Or churches. Or grocery stores. It's time to stop this madness America.”

While the majority of Democratic state senators don't appear to have issued a statement, state Sen. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, did, expressing concern for Trump and those at the rally. He also condemned the shooting as “political violence,” saying, “there is no place for [it] in our democracy.”

The chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, has yet to issue a statement. The caucus' first vice-chair, state Rep. Gene Wu, has yet to issue a statement but on the day of the shooting shared a social media post referring to Trump as “convict, a rapist and a cheater.”

General Counsel for the caucus, state Rep. Gina Hinojosa, expressed concern for Trump and condemned political violence. She said, “I hope Donald Trump is ok and the shooter is caught and anyone responsible is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We forfeit our democracy before the election even happens if we don't condemn violence and do what is in our power to keep violence out of our politics.”

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The Center Square

Forecast, polls show Trump, Cruz leading in November | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Bethany Blankley | contributor – 2024-07-12 11:35:00

(The Center Square) – A new forecast and poll show that former President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are ahead of their opponents in their respective races in November.

Latino's also favor Trump in Texas, with border security a top issue, according to a new poll out of Houston.

A new Decision Desk HQ and The Hill model predicts that Trump has a 56% chance of winning the presidency.

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Trump “has matched his best odds of winning the 2024 presidential race since” Decision Desk HQ and the Hill launched its forecast in May. Among its model's eight predicted toss-ups, Trump is slightly favored to win in the wing states of Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Despite his widely criticized presidential debate performance two weeks ago and ongoing misstatements, including referring to Trump as his vice president at a conference Thursday night, President Joe Biden maintains a slight edge over Trump in Michigan, Minnesota and Maine.

Biden won each of these eight states in 2020. Trump would need to win four of them to gain the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Biden remains defiant that he is not stepping down after a growing number of Democrats, elected officials and news editorial boards have called for him to do so, citing his declining cognitive abilities. Since the first presidential debate this year, when Biden lost his train of thought and couldn't complete sentences, “Trends in our key battleground averages have all moved in Trump's direction over the last two weeks,” the forecast says.

It also notes that Trump already has 235 electoral votes to Biden's 226 in states that heavily favor either candidate.

In Texas, a new University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs poll has Trump leading Biden by 9 points, with 49% of Texas likely voters polled saying they plan on voting for Trump and 40% for Joe Biden.

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The poll is evenly divided along party lines with each side saying they will vote for their party's candidate.

More Texas likely voters hold a favorable view of Trump (50%) than of Biden (44%) and more hold an unfavorable view of Biden (55%) than of Trump (49%).

Notably, 45% of Texas Latino likely voters intend to vote for Trump, compared to 41% for Biden, according to the poll.

The top issue for Trump voters in Texas is border security (72%), followed by the economy (55%) and inflation (52%). The majority of Biden voters say “the future of U.S. democracy” is the most important issue (43%), followed by abortion (38%) and climate change (32%).

The findings are consistent with a recent The Center Square Voters' Voice Poll, conducted in conjunction with Noble Predictive Insights, which found that 84% of Trump voters would vote for him in November even if he was convicted of a felony before the election. The poll was conducted before he was found guilty of 34 felony counts in the New York City hush money case. Multiple polls conducted after the verdict show that Trump continues to lead Biden, The Center Square has reported.

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In Texas' U.S. Senate election, incumbent Cruz is leading his Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, by 47.6% to 41.5%, according to the Decision Desk HQ and The Hill forecast.

Cruz is leading Allred by three points, according to Hobby's latest poll, which states its findings are weighted with “an oversample of Black Texans,” who overwhelmingly vote Democrat. The poll's forecast is significantly tighter than that of a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll, which has Cruz leading by 11 points. A Remington Research Group poll also has Cruz leading by 10 points.

The findings were published as fundraising for the Texas Senate race broke records in the second quarter of 2024. Cruz reported $12.6 million raised compared to Allred's $10.5 million, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

Allred raised slightly more than former U.S. Rep. Robert (Beto) O'Rourke's record $10.4 million in the second quarter six years ago when he ran against Cruz and lost.

“The 2024 Texas Senate race is a test of the state's shifting political landscape,” Decision Desk HQ and The Hill state. “Analysts expected the Republican incumbent Ted Cruz to be a slight favorite but the Democratic candidate Colin Allred to be close behind and within striking distance. Texas's rapidly growing and increasingly diverse electorate presents challenges and opportunities for the candidates. The ability to mobilize key constituencies and appeal to a broad range of voters will be crucial factors in determining the outcome of this race.”

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