The topic of the intersection of technology and policy is one that transcends culture and geographic boundaries. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to attend conferences in DC, Philadelphia and Hamburg, Germany to discuss how decisions made in the public sector affect the private sector’s ability to invest and innovate. Everyone is talking about Texas and as we head into the 85th Legislative session here, I’m thrilled to bring this conversation back home.
Texas cities are growing and thriving due in large part to the state’s pro-business policies. As we like to say, “Texas is Wide Open for Business.” The tech sector is growing because of pro-investment policies and as a result, is a major contributor to our prosperity. Innovators and job creators are relocating their companies in record numbers to tap into our favorable business climate.
Austin is well known as the #1 place in the U.S. to start a company in 2016, a top city for women entrepreneurs, a top city to find a great job, the best city for new entrepreneurs and the fastest growing city in the country. Likewise San Antonio continues to make strong marks with its dedication to growing its entrepreneur ecosystem and the strong community cohesion with groups like Geekdom, CodeUp and TechBloc. They are investing in the future. Dallas ranks #1 in the 2014 Regulatory Climate Index and is home to more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies headquarters, 25 billionaires and more than 50 colleges and universities. Houston is diversifying its oil and gas roots and creating a new tech-based economy. The Houston Technology Center was recently ranked by Forbes’ as one of “Ten Technology Incubators Changing the World.”
As our populations expand and the economic accolades keep rolling in, the use of mobile data also grows exponentially. Pew Research Center Report (2015) found that 75% of U.S. adults use a smartphone regularly and 7% rely exclusively on their smartphone for Internet access. Indeed, mobile connectivity is the underpinning of the innovations that are driving our economy, our opportunities and our quality of life. Our communications infrastructure must keep pace for Texas to remain attractive to investment and job growth.
So what do investments, hearty economies, robust networks and superfast connectivity all have in common: sound public policy. Policy may seem eye-glazing compared to whiz bang technologies like virtual reality, but good policies are at the core high-speed connections and everything those connections make possible. You can’t have the instant-connection experience you want without policies that encourage the major network investments that deliver those experiences. That’s why the legislative session is an exciting time. Every two years, the session is an opportunity to cement our spot at the top by embracing public policies that promote economic growth and investment. We’re on the edge of our seats to see what’s in store for Texas’ future when lawmakers gavel in come January.
Chelsea Collier is Co-Founder of Impact Hub Austin, Founder of Digi.City, a Principal at Intercambio Group, Senior Advisor to Texans for Economic Progress and an Eisenhower Fellow focused on Smart Cities in the US and China.