Yesterday I had a great phone call with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. If you had not heard, Texas is booming. Like President Barack Obama, Perry inherited an economy from President George W. Bush, but has somehow been able to do more with it than Obama has done.
Texas was just named the No. 1 state for business by CEO magazine. While the U.S. lost 2.1 million private sector jobs over the last five years, Texas created 494,000 private sector jobs.
Over the last 10 years, Texas created 33 percent of the net new jobs nationwide. Texas has been the top exporting state in the nation for 11 straight years.
Texas is ranked No. 1 on CNBC’s 2012 Top States for Business list. Raytheon and other corporations are leaving states like California to set up shop or expand in Texas. In fact, Texas has booming biomedical, technological and manufacturing fields.
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The oil and gas Texas has been replaced by the dot com Texas. It also has invested in local flexibility for schools, a STEM program to build magnet schools focused on science, technology, engineering and math -- often with private companies helping sponsor the schools -- and worked to produce an educated workforce.
Gov. Perry tells me he thinks Texas is thriving because the state focuses on low taxes, low regulation, good education and a government willing to stand aside. Businesses compete with each other. The small business in Texas has a real chance to become a big business. Likewise, the state has no income tax, which companies like.
The results speak for themselves. Georgia could learn a lot from Texas. Much of our government has shifted in party identification, but not in thinking. We nibble at the tax code and regulation, but the state government listens mostly to the needs of big business. Our Chamber of Commerce is a who’s who of lobbyists for major corporations and other representatives directly from those major corporations.
What we find more and more in Washington and in Georgia is that the interests and needs of the major corporations are often at odds with small to mid-sized businesses and individuals.
The Legislature in Georgia has continued slow progress toward more innovation and reform of the state, but it is not enough. We have abundant resources in Georgia, great small businesses, and a good many major corporations.
Outside the Atlanta area, such as here in Middle Georgia, we also have lots of water thanks to long-term planning. Unfortunately for Middle Georgia, much of the major business innovation has come from distribution centers. While they create jobs, they often do not create many high paying or high skilled jobs.
When next we have a SPLOST, a few years from now, we should have a plan in place to develop infrastructure to bring in more technical jobs and innovation. Expanding the runway at the airport would be a start. Continuing great programs at the technical colleges training students for engineering jobs is also key.
But there is one other area we really should work on -- training new leaders. Leadership Macon is a terrific program; I was part of. It is time we start seeing graduates of that program step up for local office.
Looking at those ready to run for the new consolidated government, I cannot help but wonder where the fresh faces are with fresh ideas. Our community relies on the tried and true. But the tried and true has not been working for us. It is time for fresh faces and fresh voices to innovate out of the status quo.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.