- Business leaders favor more state investment in schools, infrastructure
- Push for ‘bathroom bill’ hurting state’s efforts to attract, keep talent
- Washington’s failure to resolve immigration affecting their companies
Leading Chambers of Commerce in Texas unveiled a poll today of its members, finding that most say the state’s economy is headed in the right direction but more must be done to shore up education, transportation, infrastructure and workforce development.
The joint survey also showed that most of the chambers’ members believe the debate over a transgender bathroom bill has hurt Texas’ efforts to attract and keep talent. And, many say, Washington’s inability to resolve immigration is negatively affecting their businesses.
The survey – by chambers in Arlington, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio – provides a timely outlook on business trends in Texas. Its release comes as primary voters begin deciding local, legislative, statewide and congressional races.
“The statewide results of this survey validate what we hear from our business leaders in Dallas,” said Dale Petroskey, president and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber. “They want low taxes and reasonable regulations, and they also want investment in our children’s education, and in infrastructure to keep pace with our strong, growing economy.”
“Infrastructure, education and workforce development have long been priorities on our legislative agendas,” said Bill Thornton, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. “These findings confirm that those are still well-founded and give us data to help shape our federal and state policy recommendations for addressing these issues.”
“As the survey supported, our members are committed to championing economic and community prosperity,” stated Michael Jacobson, president and CEO of the Arlington Chamber. “Arlington manufacturing, entertainment and health sciences companies have a consistent voice that a world-class education, infrastructure and business environment is required for maintaining our position of economic leadership.”
Among other highlights, the poll of business leaders from across the state found that:
- Chamber members overwhelming say Texas’ economy is on the right track but they have little confidence its public school students are well prepared for post-secondary education and the workforce after graduating high school.
- If budget demands were not a concern, chamber members say, the state should focus its spending on public education, higher education, transportation and workforce development.
- They also rate transportation/infrastructure as a legislative priority and say the state should invest more in that to keep pace with Texas’ growing population and transportation demands.
- More than three quarters say NAFTA has helped Texas businesses overall. And 43 percent say it has boosted their business specifically.
On the so-called bathroom bill, nearly two-thirds of chamber members say the state discussion about that issue has had a negative effect on perceptions of Texas’ ability to attract or retain qualified employees for its businesses. Of those polled, 44 percent say it has had a very negative effect.
The Legislature last year debated but did not pass a bill that would restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans in public facilities. Many of the state’s most recognized companies and business groups opposed the measure.
On immigration, 44 percent of chamber members polled say that federal discussions and actions over immigration are negatively affecting their business. Almost half say it has had no impact and 8 percent say it has been positive.
The survey went beyond an assessment of top business issues, offering solutions by chamber members to keep Texas moving. Among the findings:
- Most support using the state’s Rainy Day Fund to make up for budget shortfalls.
- Most back public-private partnerships and toll roads to improve infrastructure.
- Nearly a third support the state spending more on public education and infrastructure, even if it means a small tax increase on their business.
The chambers sponsoring the survey collectively serve thousands of Texas companies that employ a large portion of the state’s workforce. The chambers have focused largely on economic development, mobility and other policies to benefit state and local economies. They are part of the Metro 8.
The online poll of 454 chamber members was conducted Feb. 9-18 by Research+Data Insights, a national polling firm based in Texas that is part of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, which has offices in Dallas, Austin and Houston.
Dallas Regional Chamber
Andra Bennett House, APR
Vice President Communications
Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce
Vice President, Marketing & Business Development
Arlington Chamber of Commerce
ABOUT THE DALLAS REGIONAL CHAMBER
The Dallas Regional Chamber is the voice of business and the champion of economic growth and development in the Dallas Region. Our mission is to make Dallas the best place in America to live, work, and do business. We work with 1,200 member companies to strengthen our business community by advocating for pro-growth public policy, improving our educational system, attracting the best and brightest workers from around the world, and enhancing the quality of life for all in the Dallas Region. The DRC is a not-for-profit organization comprised of businesses, which represent all facets of the Dallas Regional business community. For more information, please contact the DRC at 214.746.6600 or visit www.dallaschamber.org.
ABOUT THE FORT WORTH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, with 2,000 member businesses, is one of the largest chambers in North Texas. Through its core functions of business attraction and retention, talent development, small business and entrepreneur support, and government advocacy, the Chamber’s mission is to bring the Fort Worth region together to identify issues, solve problems and help align resources resulting in a stronger business climate and greater economic prosperity for all.
ABOUT THE ARLINGTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Arlington Chamber’s mission states “Together, we champion economic and community prosperity.” We focus on four key priorities: 1) growing our members business, 2) fostering economic prosperity, 3) providing a unified voice for business and 3) developing our community’s future. We strive to build upon being the “American Dream City.” For more information, please contact the Arlington Chamber at 817-275-2613 or visit www.arlingtontx.com.