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AUSTIN-Noted Texas economist, Ray Perryman, this week unveils his recommendations to strengthen the state’s economic development muscles. The Waco-based economist calls for some new programs and expanding current ones after conducting what he calls a comprehensive examination of the state’s development policies and procedures.

Perryman, whose firm is called the Perryman Group, will present the report Wednesday to the governing board of the state’s Texas Economic Development agency, but he gave GlobeSt.com an overview. He says most economic development involves the things government does anyway: providing good schools and roads and stable business and legal environments.

“The things we talk about in terms of economic development, incentives and that sort of thing, are 1% of the total activity, but an essential 1%,” Perryman says. “We simply have no choice but to be competitive as a state.” The report points out where Texas is competitive and where it isn’t.

Two of the non-competitive areas are jobs training and incentives that help close deals.Texas has fallen behind other states since it shut down the Smart Jobs program, Perryman says. “That’s an issue we need to address,” he says. Although Texas offers tax credits for research and development and investment, they aren’t competitive with those offered by states with which Texas goes head to head.

In terms of deal-closing incentives, other states have flexible funds to pay for items such as a highway, an exchange a company might want before it says yes to putting a facility there. Perryman’s report proposes such a fund for Texas.

Some of his proposals will need legislative approval and some will cost money, which he acknowledges can be a tough sell to a legislature facing a $5-billion shortfall in its next two-year budget cycle. But he says he didn’t hold back on recommendations that require money. They can be returned to later on when the budget’s in better shape. And, he says, “Some of these things pay off tremendous dividends for the budget as well.”

Perryman’s report is called, “Texas, Our Texas: An Assessment of Economic Development Programs and Prospects in the Lone Star State.” The legislature called for such a report during the last session, but didn’t authorize money for it. Perryman’s firm put it together for the Texas Economic Development at no charge.

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