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Texas: It's All Here

Is this another one of those famous Texas boasts? Maybe. Overstated? You'd be surprised. But the diversity of Texas' industry, population, and culture, coupled with our celebrated "can-do" attitude, makes this statement closer to the truth than you might imagine. Have you ever seen a cowboy sitting on a horse and thought of Texas? Today that cowboy is just as likely to have a global positioning system in his hand, locating cattle with embedded microchips in their ears. Texas is becoming a leader in the 21st century global economy. Texans are just plain proud of their state. And they have a lot to be proud of.



Geography

One thing everyone agrees on is that Texas is big. And in Texas, big means opportunity for growth and the sense of being a part of something special. Second only to Alaska with a land and water area of 267,277 square miles, Texas spans 801 miles from the Panhandle to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. And it's almost the same distance from Houston to El Paso. How big is Texas? If one were to drive around the state borders it would be 2,842 miles before you got back where you started. The state occupies almost 7 percent of the total land and water area of the United States and has a central North American location that puts you within a four-hour flight of any major city in the United States, Mexico and Canada. For those of the mind that Texas is all flatland and desert, it is interesting to note that Texas is one of the top producers of forest products in the nation and our 22 million acres of forests and woodlands represents a total area larger than the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont combined. The Texas landscape is cooled by 11,247 named streams and rivers with a combined length of about 80,000 miles. From the highest mountain of Guadalupe Peak (8,749 feet) to 367 miles of Gulf of Mexico coastline, Texas boasts a diverse and interesting geography.



Texas Demographics

Texas is among the fastest growing states in the United States, by almost any measure. During the 1990s Texas was second only to California as the fastest growing state in the nation in total population. For the first part of this century Texas averaged increases of almost 100,000 persons per quarter. We are second only to Utah in the highest natural birth rates with almost 1,000 new Texans born into the world everyday. Texas offers three metropolitan areas each exceeding a million residents and the cultural diversity that accompanies a state with over 22 million population. The Texas labor force is more than 11 million strong, with 19 metropolitan areas with civilian labor forces exceeding 100,000 workers. With a per capita income of $29,076 per year, Texas represents a vast consumer market of over $675 billion in total personal income.

Texas life has a unique international flavor, joined together by a 1,200 mile border with Mexico. Based on the 2000 Census, Texas has almost 7 million persons of Hispanic heritage. In many ways, Texas and Mexico are bound together by a shared history, a blended culture and a singular future. Governor Rick Perry described this symbiotic relationship between Texans and Mexico by saying, "We live and work each day in a borderless marketplace. Our hopes, aspirations and dreams are borderless as well."



Quality of Life

Texas is quite simply a wonderful place to live, raise a family and do business. The state name comes from an Indian word, Tejas, which means friendly. Texas has hundreds of state and local festivals, from the renowned Wurstfest in New Braunsfels to the State Fair of Texas in Dallas (wwwfestivalsoftexas.com). Texans like to have fun and enjoy life. With two professional baseball teams, two pro football teams, three pro basketball teams and scores of minor league franchises in all sports, Texas has a team for whom everyone can root.

There are 125 state parks, covering the gamut from arid desert to mountains and canyons to sandy dunes and saltwater surf (www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park). And nobody bests Texas for superior hunting and fishing locations. The capital city of Austin was voted in 2003 as number one on the Forbes Magazine Best places for Business and Careers. We do country and cosmopolitan, and we're pretty much at home with both. No wonder folks in this part of the country have been known to say, "if it isn't in Texas, you don't need it!"



Education

Texas might have made it's mark as a place where hard work and toughness conquered the landscape, but it is the quality of our education and our commitment to creating a highly skilled workforce that will lead Texas into the 21st century. The state has 28 universities and 73 community and technical colleges providing higher education opportunities for everyone. Texas led the nation in instituting programs for school accountability and provided the impetus for President George Bush's landmark No Child Left Behind federal school legislation.



Economic Diversity

Texas is not all boots and cowboy hats, even though there are more than twice as many farms in Texas as any other state and two and a half times more farm acreage. Texas is oil and gas, agribusiness, telecommunications and financial services. With a state gross domestic product of $698.5 billion in 2001 Texas would rank as the eight largest country in the world.

During the last decade our economy flourished on high technology manufacturing, telecommunications services and advanced materials. And we have set our sights on becoming one the nation's premier states for biotechnology and life sciences. According to the American Electronics Association (AeA), Texas ranks second nationwide to only California in eight (8) high tech industry segments including Communications Equipment, Computer, Peripherals and Semiconductor manufacturing. We're also just behind California in Engineering Services, Telecommunications, Internet Services and Computer Training. Plus, even with a total high tech payroll second only to California, the average wage per high tech worker in Texas is almost $13,500 lower than comparable workers in California. Despite the technology downturn, Texas' increase in high tech exports led the nation for 2002, increasing by $1.2 billion.

Texas has an abundance of sea, highway, air and rail ports and terminals. Moving goods on an international basis through Texas is not a special case, it's a routine part of doing business. The city of Laredo actually moves more freight tonnage in a year than the port of New York. Exports of just under a $100 billion in 2003 made Texas the number one exporting state in the nation. The state's largest export market continues to be its NAFTA trading partners Mexico and Canada, which accounted for approximately 55 percent of total state exports during 2003. Asian and Pacific Rim countries account for approximately 35 percent of the state's total exports.

Make no mistake, Texas is not just ranches and cowboys, oil rigs and refineries, or saw mills and highways. Texas is a leading player in the global high tech economy. It is a land where folks make their own luck by combining a commitment to preparation with a boundless entrepreneurial spirit. Some people refer to Texas as a place of opportunity. That's a fact. But Texas is more than a big spot on the national map, more than an international marketplace, more than a home to millions of hardworking people. As Governor Perry reminds us, "whether you were born here or found the right path that led you here, it makes no difference. The Texas Dream is a condition of the heart and a state of mind."