NHA covers an area of more than 1,100 square miles and within our footprint, we have quite a few area Chambers of Commerce. We partnered with some of them to host the State of Business in Texas, an event that featured the Texas Association of Business’, President & CEO, Glenn Hamer for an economic update, and a panel discussion on “The Workforce Development, Training & Education: confronting the war on talent.”

Hamer began the program with a list of facts about the great state of Texas. Our state has the 9th largest economy in the world, ranks as the #1 place for business for the 18th year in a row, and is #1 in the country for economic development activity for 11 years running. We are also the top state for exports and boast more Fortune 500 companies than any other state in the country, 53 to be exact. Still, the number 1 issue around the state is the workforce. Nationwide we have 2 jobs open for every person. “We need a skilled workforce to continue to lead the charge here in Texas,” Hamer urged. 

Next, he spoke on some of the things happening in the 88th legislative session. “We are working very hard on data privacy regulations,” Hamer said. A lot of attention is being paid to creating privacy standards that respect the needs and challenges of small businesses. He also shared that, “we are working hard to make sure there’s no successful effort to pierce the medical and retirement funding.” 

Hamer then stated that 70%-75% of Texans support having property tax incentives for businesses. He insisted, “If we don’t get HB5 Jobs and Securities Act on the books, the businesses like the battery factories and others in the energy sector are going to start going elsewhere.” 

Before ending his address Hamer spoke a little about what is going on with the state federally. “We are going to be more aggressive in the area of immigration and trade.” Regarding immigration, He shared that Texas is working to address the need to increase border security and decrease poisons coming into the county. They’re also working on making sure workable visas are easily issuable, while simultaneously supporting DACA and DREAMERS which comprise about 100,000 of the current workforce. In terms of trade, the state is looking for ways to expand current agreements with Mexico & Canada. 

Following Hamer was a panel of 4 experts poised to discuss workforce development, training & education. The panel included TAB Chairman of the Board, Massey Villarreal who is also President/CEO at PTG, Patricia Cassel, Director of Human Resources at Texas Tissue, Jason Gernand, Human Resources Director at Tenaris, and Deborah Bronner-Westerduin, Career & Technical Education Programs at Klein ISD, with moderator TABCC Foundation Chair Dr. Linda Head who is also Sr. Associate Vice Chancellor, External and Employer Relations at Lone Star College. 

Each panelist spoke about the technical skills and training they need from the emerging workforce to be successful in their respective businesses. Villarreal helped to create the 1st Associate of Science Degree in Cyber Security for the state of Texas which is available at Lone Star College. Bronner-Westerduin shared how the high school CTE programs and dual credit courses offered in Klein better prepare students to enter the workforce with useful skills that employers are desperately looking for. But not every person entering the workforce must have or desires a degree, and still, there is a pathway for them to be successful. Gernand helped wrap up the afternoon panel by mentioning apprenticeship programs his company offers for high school students who aren’t interested in higher education opportunities. With the variety of opportunities offered to those looking to enter workforce, there’s no doubt that Texas can and will continue to lead the nation in economic development.