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:
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:
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.
The Dallas Regional Chamber joined leaders of 25 metropolitan chambers of commerce from Canada, the United States and Mexico in Montreal this week in anticipation of the next round of NAFTA negotiations. The goal of this meeting was to clearly identify the issues surrounding the renewal of NAFTA, to understand the risks for businesses in the event of the current negotiations’ failure, and to send a clear message to the three governments on the importance of an updated agreement and maintaining open access to the entire North American market.
(video courtesy of Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain)
This event brought together the eight largest Canadian metropolitan chambers of commerce as well as ten American and eight Mexican metropolitan chambers of commerce. Collectively, these chambers represent economic zones with a combined GDP of almost $3.5 trillion.
“No state benefits more from the NAFTA relationship than Texas, and no state has contributed more to the overall positive economic condition of the U.S. than Texas,” said Priscilla Camacho, senior vice president for public policy at the Dallas Regional Chamber. “Nearly 1 million Texas jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. Our hope is that the result of the negotiations will be a modernized NAFTA that will further strengthen the economy of Texas and the United States.”
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trade with Canada and Mexico supports nearly 14 million American jobs, and nearly 5 million of these jobs are supported by the increase in trade generated by NAFTA. The United States ran a cumulative trade surplus in manufactured goods with Canada and Mexico of more than $79 billion over the past seven years (2008-2014). For services, the U.S. surplus was $41.8 billion in 2014 alone.
At the end of this meeting, all chambers present signed a joint statement stressing the importance of maintaining the North American Free Trade Agreement for the economies of the three countries and their cities.
You can consult the signatories’ joint statement below.
JOINT DECLARATION OF METROPOLITAN CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE FROM THE UNITED STATES, MEXICO AND CANADA
We, the undersigned representatives of Metropolitan Cities Chambers of Commerce, agree to the following key facts regarding the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA):
Whereas: NAFTA has created major economic ties between Canada, the United States and Mexico, helping to quadruple trade between our three nations since its inception, now reaching $1.5 trillion USD annually.
Whereas: NAFTA has stimulated cross-border investments in the region. Canadian foreign direct investments in the US have risen from less than $40 billion USD to nearly $400 billion USD, and Mexican Foreign direct investment holdings in the United States have also increased by a factor of ten over the same period.
Whereas: 14 million jobs in the United States, 2 million jobs in Canada, and 3 million jobs in Mexico are dependent on trade between the three NAFTA member countries. Of the 14 million American jobs, 5 million are directly related to the growth of NAFTA.
Whereas: Value chains have become integrated through NAFTA, and many products cross our borders multiple times while becoming a finished product. For example, 40% of the content of all US imports from Mexico is produced in the United States. This integration severely increases the cost of breaking a free-trade zone in North America, both at the national and firm level.
Whereas: NAFTA has provided consumers in our metropolitan areas and across our three nations with access to more abundant and affordable products and services, including both high-quality manufactured goods and a wide variety of agricultural products throughout the year.
Whereas: Many of the companies that we represent would be adversely affected by a non-renewal of NAFTA, or a substantial departure from NAFTA’s core principles.
Thus, on the eve of the 6th round of negotiations for the renewal of NAFTA, we the undersigned:
Therefore, we jointly sign this Declaration,
Montreal, January 22nd, 2018
The leaders of the following chambers and boards of trade attended the meeting in Montreal: Albany, Boston, Brampton, Calgary, Chihuahua, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Halifax, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Mérida, Mexico City, Minneapolis, Monterrey, Montreal, Querétaro, San Antonio, St. Louis, Tijuana, Toronto, Vancouver, Veracruz, Winnipeg.
by Dave Moore, Staff Writer
If adversity reveals and builds character, the City of Dallas has character to spare, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told a sold-out crowd of about 730 individuals at his State of the City address, which was hosted by the Dallas Regional Chamber.
Rawlings used his annual address as much to review the events of 2017 as a springboard toward the city’s future. The event occurred on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.
He framed the past through the prism of a book he recently completed; David Brooks’ “The Road to Character.”
“The road to character often involves moments of moral crisis, confrontation and recovery,” Rawlings told the crowd, summarizing Brooks’ work. “When they were in a crucible moment, they suddenly had a greater ability to see their own nature. This really speaks to what we’ve been through as a city over the past 18 months.”
Rawlings recalled issues the city was addressing during his previous State of the City speech:
“Our financial troubles were coming to a head just as our city council was discussing a very important topic… the prospect of an $800 (million) to $1 billion bond election, to start attacking our growing needs of streets and parks and flood control,” Rawlings said. “And it wasn’t as if we didn’t face major battles at the state level. I don’t have to tell this room of business leaders that we were in a war to protect the Dallas, Texas, miracle – fighting the legislature on the Bathroom Bill, Sanctuary Cities legislation and property tax reform.”
Rawlings thanked the Dallas Regional Chamber, VisitDallas, Dallas voters, public servants and others for joining to overcome those challenges. He also used the occasion to recognize that the city has made strides in reducing its childhood poverty rate and its property tax base has increased to an all-time high of $118 billion, among other gains.
“We’ve been given a tremendous hand,” Rawlings said. “The question is, what are we going to do with it?”
The key, he said, will be a great deal of work to be done to increase community involvement and connecting Dallas’ business community to those who need assistance. Toward that end, Rawlings promoted his “Dallas 2030” initiative, which is geared toward individuals living in the city of Dallas.
The 2030 initiative, which hasn’t been completely fleshed out yet, will attempt to better coordinate employment training, and educational and industry initiatives to improve the city’s quality of life and standard of living, he said.
Rawlings paraphrased David Brooks’ “The Road to Character” again in closing: “He [Brooks] says, ‘You do not ask, “What do I want from life?” Ask, “What does life want from me? What do my circumstances ask of me to do?’”
The State of the City event was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas; gold sponsors Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Oncor; and silver sponsors BKD LLP, Boeing and The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated, Inc..
Election Day is Tuesday, November 7, and voters in the Dallas Region will be casting their votes for seven state propositions and countless local propositions.
The city of Dallas in particular has an important opportunity to improve and expand many elements crucial to the city’s quality of life such as streets, parks, police and fire facilities without raising taxes by voting “FOR” City of Dallas Propositions A-J. You can learn more about the City of Dallas bond, and the DRC’s endorsement, by reading our blog post on the issue.
Every vote matters, and it is important for every voice to be heard. We hope that you will remember to vote and encourage your employees, co-workers, friends and family members to do so as well.
With so much information out there about voting and the voting process, we’ve created an easy, one-stop shop of useful information to help guide you through election season.
When is early voting and who is eligible?
Early voting began Monday, October 23, and closes Friday, November 3.
Any registered voter may vote early in person. Polling place hours will vary at each early voting location. To find early voting locations, click here or contact the Early Voting Clerk in your county.
What is on the ballot?
Figuring out what is on the ballot and how you feel about each person or issue can be overwhelming. To learn more about the items on the ballot, and the platforms of parties and candidates, click here.
Where do I go to vote?
Polls are open 7 AM – 7 PM on Election Day, Tuesday, November 7. You may only vote at your assigned precinct on Election Day. Your designated precinct number (Pct. No.) can be found next to your year of birth on your voter registration card. To find your voting location, check here two days before Election Day. Many newspapers will also publish polling locations.
Who is currently representing me?
Visit Who Represents Me for information about the national and state elected officials who represent you.
Our government at every level needs more leaders like Speaker Joe Straus, and we are sorry to learn that he is retiring from the Texas House of Representatives.
Speaker Straus has been a champion of common sense government and a leading voice for pro-growth policies for the Texas business community and for all Texans who live and work here. His has been a distinguished tenure. Speaker Straus has been a true statesman and has shown dignity at every turn in leading a diverse body in a challenging political environment.
The Dallas Regional Chamber will continue to work tirelessly to protect our business climate and ensure our continued economic prosperity, to strengthen our educational system and prepare the workforce of tomorrow, to enhance the quality of life for all Texans, and to attract the best and brightest workers from around the world.
We hope the next Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives will follow Speaker Straus’ lead by promoting legislation that focuses on the issues most critical to achieving those goals. We look forward to working with leadership and the North Texas delegation as we prepare for the 86th Legislative Session.
We welcome your questions and comments. To request more information about area businesses or to share an idea, contact us: