BY COREY PAUL
Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos met with local government leaders as part of a tour of the state focused on issues like economic development, workforce training and internationaltrade. Cascos described the trip as primarily a listening session for him for his first trip to Odessa and an opportunity to promote economic development and the state.
“The focus of my visit to all the regions is to get to know the people, to get to know the regions, just listen.” Cascos said. “Part of my role is to sell Texas, internationally, nationally, south of the border, north of the border. And you can’t sell something unless you know what you are selling.”
Cascos said cities that want to attract businesses need to focus on factors including infrastructure such as roads, quality education and hospitals in addition to business friendly tax policies and governmental stability.
Local leaders who talked about education and workforce training included ECISD Superintendent Tom Crowe, UTPB President David Watts and Willie Taylor, the CEO of the Permian Basin Workforce Development Board.
Other speakers included Texas Transportation Commission Chair Tryon Lewis and District 81 Rep. Brooks Landgraf.
Cascos and local officials also touted the City of Odessa’s Mexico Initiative, run by the Hispanic Chamber, that is aimed at increasing business ties between the city and Chihuahua, Mexico.
“The economic future of Odessa, the diversity that you must engage to avoid the pitfalls of oil prices, is south,” Cascos said. “And I think there are initiatives and efforts being done today to, obviously to better that relationship with your southern neighbor. That’s what we have to do. We have to continue that. But do it in a way that you can explain why is it that you are doing this.”
Mexico Initiative Chair Raymond Chavez, who is also the chair-elect of the Hispanic chamber, said the goal Friday was “nothing decisive” “What we wanted to know with the Mexico Initiative is what the state wants,” Chavez said.
Cascos stressed that trade with Mexico is important and in-line with the Texas governor’s priorities and that Cascos would assist if he could throughmeans like phone calls on the city’s behalf or traveling with city officials to convince businesses to move here.
Mayor David Turner said the city would receive a garbage truck manufactured in Mexico in the coming weeks under a deal borne out of the effort that the mayor said would savetaxpayers money. The mayor said major companies in Chihuahua can provide important supplies to Permian Basin businesses and create new businesses in the future.
“One of the reasons we wanted to partner with Mexico is to expand our economy,” Turner said. “Economic developmentis the best way to increase our tax base without costing our taxpayers more money. But this is the only we wanted to do that, because we are going to protect Odessa businesses but enhance them to hopefully be more competitive in the marketplace than some of our surrounding communities.”