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Agriculture, education and other contributors help Texas fare better than other states coming out of recession

June 9, 2010 at 1:09 a.m.

Statistics on Texas:

One in seven Texans is employed in some form of agriculture.

Agriculture contributes more than $100 billion in economic impact to the state economy.

Texas is the third largest exporter of agricultural products in the nation.

The state's population is about 28 million people but that is expected to grow to about 40 million within a few decades.

Source: Todd Staples, Texas commissioner of agriculture

It's no mistake that Texas fares better than most states coming out of the recession, said Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples on Wednesday.

"For Texas, we are a model that can be looked at throughout the nation today in terms of this economic crisis and how to deal with that," he said.

Staples spoke to about 100 people at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce June luncheon, updating them on the current economic situation.

Texas' fair court system ensures justice, and its stable and predictable regulatory environment provides a level playing field, Staples said. That regulatory environment helps to attract investment.

Agriculture is another reason for the state's success, Staples said. Today, it contributes more than $100 billion in economic impact to the state's economy.

Science and technology help the industry, he said, explaining 96 percent of the world's consumers live outside the United States, so shipping and increased technology are vital.

Finally, education comes into the mix.

We want Texas students to obtain four-year degrees, Staples said, but students mature at different rates. Partnerships between four-year universities, community colleges and high schools all help further that effort.

Education is a major local initiative, said Mark Zafereo, senior director of university advancement for the University of Houston-Victoria. One challenge Victoria faces now is working to make UHV a destination university, he said.

It's reassuring to hear the state is faring well, said Randy Vivian, president of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. He attributed some of the improvement to leadership from people such as Staples.

"He has his pulse on what's going on in the state," Vivian said.

All in all, Texas' success is a combination of several factors and the future looks bright, Staples said.

"We know if we do not abandon those same free-market principles that led us where we are today," he said, "that Texas will continue to be a leader in the Lone Star State and in the nation."



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