This year’s State of the Business Luncheon hosted by the Collin County Business Alliance (CCBA) on 15 May 2023 featured an opening panel moderated by Christopher Wallace, president and CEO of the North Texas Commission. The event convened local leaders to address critical infrastructure, mobility and workforce issues in the region.
After the discussion, Glenn Hegar, State of Texas Comptroller, gave a keynote discussing Texas’ 88th State Legislative session.
The panel guests for this event included:
- Dr. Neil Matkin, District President, Collin College, CCBA Board Member
- Jenna Covington, P.E., Executive Director, General Manager, Municipal Water District
- Duncan Webb, Collin County Commissioner
Neil Matkin On Workforce Developments — 00:05:33 to 00:07:47 and 00:20:25 to 00:23:16
Dr. Matkin explained how Texas House Bill 8 (HB 8), signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on June 9, 2023, will positively impact Collin College's operations and how it receives funding. He mentioned that it is a unique new funding formula for community colleges as it helps them build on outcomes instead of just funding. Also, Collin College provides continuing education, and House Bill 8 helps make this possible due to the state not funding that form of education in the past.
Later, Matkin briefly discussed the great partnerships between his college and regional businesses. He emphasized the importance of meeting with companies to gain insights, which helps Collin College find new ways to expand its workforce pipeline.
Jenna Covington On Water Infrastructure Developments — 00:07:47 to 00:12:14 and 00:23:30 to 00:26:32
Covington emphasized that continued investments in water are a top priority. An $80+ billion investment is needed to meet the state’s water needs. Additionally, aging infrastructure is a primary concern for water infrastructure across the state. The good news is that Senate Bill 28 provides a mechanism to invest in water infrastructure.
Furthermore, Covington also talked about the opening of Bois d’Arc Lake, which is the first new reservoir in Texas in over 30 years, the East Fork Water Reuse Project, and the connected John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, which teaches students how to use water wisely. Lastly, she encouraged everyone to be good water stewards themselves.
Duncan Webb On Mobility Developments — 00:12:14 to 00:20:09 and 00:26:32 to 00:30:37
Webb discussed high-priority projects regarding mobility developments. He noted the two most critical bills people should pay attention to: propositions 1 and 7, passed by voters to allocate additional funds into the state's transportation funding mechanism. They will expire and need an extension. Further statewide mobility developments Webb sees as essential focus points are the fair allocation of tax money from toll roads and the new EV (electric vehicle) legislation.
On a regional (Collin County) level, Webb mentioned developments surrounding the U.S. 380 bypass project, the conversion of the HOV Lane into the Technology Lane, and the ongoing Outer Loop freeway project to open up northwest and central Collin County.
Furthermore, In response to being asked what the region’s most significant challenges are, Webb mentioned funding, ensuring a fair share of allocation, and implementing an effective transit system. Webb also briefly discussed the upcoming bond election.
Glenn Hegar On The State’s Economy
Comptroller Glen Hegar took the stage to give an update on the state’s economy and the historic $33 billion surplus in a keynote speech characterized by positivity and growth. During Hegar’s eight years in office, the state of Texas has grown from the 12th to the 9th largest economy worldwide. Currently, between 1,000 and 1,200 new people call Texas their home daily, a tremendous population growth especially seen in Collin County.
Hegar talked about the trajectory of the state economy of Texas and mentioned that, even though people see Texas as an oil and gas state, its largest sector is now the financial industry. With the manufacturing industry also playing a significant role, Texas has a solid but diverse economy and a healthy business environment where companies want to open and expand, creating more job opportunities.
Texas being an economic powerhouse was even more emphasized by Hegar when he discussed the state’s historical and unprecedented $33 billion cash carry-over balance from one year to the next, presenting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on multiple costly improvements related to issues like water infrastructure and broadband infrastructure at the same time.
Hegar highlighted the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) region as an economic engine by mentioning that if it were a state by itself, it would be the 14th largest state in the nation for take-home pay. From a GDP perspective, DFW alone is roughly $550 billion-plus, which is 30% of the entire GDP of the state of Texas.
Combined with all the other thriving regions in the state, it is clear why Texas is an economic powerhouse that is the 9th largest economy in the world and quickly moving on to becoming the 8th.
The State Of Texas Going Forward
By coming together at this year's CCBA State of the Business Luncheon, local leaders were able to provide critical insights into regional and statewide developments regarding the economy, infrastructure, mobility, and workforce development. Those insights show that even though Texas faces unique and specific challenges, its strong economy, resilience and willpower to tackle issues all contribute to its extraordinary growth and strong position in the national landscape.
Furthermore, governmental leaders in various cities across the state and business and community leaders collaborate closely to ensure continued high levels of development and prosperity now and in the future. And as a local citizen, you also have an important role to play in the growth and prosperity of your state. To learn more about key issues in North Texas and to participate in voting to ensure the right leaders are elected, stay connected with the Collin County Business Alliance at www.collincountybusinessalliance.com