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Introduction

Texas is a unique state. Its enormous size, diverse population and vast natural resources have shaped its economy into the growing, thriving powerhouse it is today. As the second-largest state in the U.S., Texas plays a significant role in the national economy. In fact, if Texas were a nation, it would rank 10th on the list of the world’s largest economies.

Economic growth plays a critical role in the well-being of all Texans by generating jobs and prosperity, providing us with opportunities to obtain a better quality of life. A vibrant economy ensures a successful Texas.

A strong Texas economy is also crucial in maintaining the state’s leadership role in both the nation and the world. Increasing globalization makes it vitally important for Texas to use and extend its competitive advantages, which come from our wide knowledge and skills, our cutting-edge innovation and our legendary entrepreneurial culture.

A vigorous economy gives Texans the opportunity to expand their abilities, performance and potential. And the role of state government is to create an environment in which a healthy economy can flourish.

One of the responsibilities of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is to analyze factors affecting the state’s economy and to use this information in the biennial forecast of state revenue. For this reason, it is vitally important to keep our fingers on the pulse of the state, to detect changes as they occur and to identify trends that will affect the future.

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The Comptroller's Office pays and audits the state's bills, monitors expenditures, operates the treasury, collects and enforces sales taxes, estimates revenue and disseminates vital information about the Texas economy to those who need it.

Texas in Focus: A Statewide View of Opportunities is the first in a series of reports that will be released by this office over the next few years. This volume takes a look at cross-cutting issues affecting the state as a whole. In the 12 volumes to follow – one for each of the Comptroller’s economic regions – we will explore these issues in more detail at the regional level.

The purpose of these reports is twofold. First, it is a way to share information on the forces that are driving change in Texas and to present factors that may pose challenges to the state as a whole, affecting the economy.

Second, decision makers across Texas – state, county and city officials, chambers of commerce, economic development corporations and many others who work tirelessly to drive growth in their regions can use these reports as a tool. They can use this information to stay on top of the important issues facing the state. It can give them an edge as they continue working to keep their local economies thriving, providing greater opportunities and a better quality of life for the people of Texas with each passing year.

The continued success of the Texas economy depends on how our business and community leaders tackle the challenges that confront us and capitalize on the opportunities we have. Many of these challenges facing Texas are not exclusive to any one region; these are issues that affect all regions across the state. The following are brief previews of the cross-cutting issues that will be discussed in this report.

Demographics

A growing economy needs a growing population, and Texas has it! But we are not only growing, we’re changing in many other ways as well. The demographic data are compelling: Texas is becoming older, more diverse and more urban.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure plays a huge role in determining economic viability. Critical challenges in water, energy and transportation face us as we not only try to maintain our current infrastructure but to expand it to meet our growing needs.

Health Care

Health care is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Texas economy. Rising health care costs, however, are among the largest obstacles confronting many Texas businesses. A viable and effective health care system that provides affordable care and greater access to Texans will be “healthy” for the Texas economy as well.

Education

Texas’ most vital resource is the talent and ingenuity of its people. There’s no limit to what we can achieve if we have the education and skills needed to compete in today’s global economy. Starting early in life, our children must receive a good education and the ability to perform the jobs that will drive the economy in the future.

Economic Development

The best way to provide increased opportunities is to ensure economic growth. The outlook for Texas is good, and there are many resources to help businesses grow.

The Texas economy is on the brink of a new era, driven by globalization, demographic changes, environmental concerns and technology. How Texans will meet these challenges is important for continued growth and advancement in years to come.

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