They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and Portacool CEO Ben Wulf says this mantra certainly rings true from a business perspective. Portacool—a global manufacturer of portable evaporative cooling systems—has called Center, Texas, home for 25 years, a distinction, Wulf says, that has directly contributed to the company’s success. Locating near Dallas just makes sense logistically, he says, since it allows Portacool to reach any U.S. port within two business days. Not only does this expedite shipments to the company’s domestic partners, it also enables Portacool to supply its Dubai- and Barcelona-based distribution centers faster.
Portacool executives are so keen on Texas, in fact, that they’ve “conscientiously decided” to keep all production and distribution in-state, Wulf says. He credits Texas’ pro-business environment as a key reason for this, explaining that the state’s favorable economic policies and low taxes allow Portacool to manufacture goods at home. Plus, he says, Texas’ highly trained workforce ensures production is done efficiently.
Texas Economic Development Corp. CEO Tracye McDaniel also lauds Texas’ workforce, commenting that the state’s 36 public universities and 50 community college districts feed a strong pipeline of talent into the state. “It’s one of the many reasons that companies choose Texas,” McDaniel says, adding that the state boasts the 12th largest economy in the world.
From an infrastructure standpoint, Texas also stands out from the pack. In addition to housing Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport—the fifth-largest cargo airport in the nation—Texas features the highest concentration of public roads and freight railroads in the U.S. “The state’s world-class port infrastructure is another major draw for international companies looking to export goods on a large scale,” McDaniel says, with the Port of Houston seeing the bulk of Texas’ loads.
Port of Houston Authority’s Lisa Ashley attributes the port’s “strategic Gulf Coast location” with this phenomenon. As the largest container port in the region, the Port of Houston connects shippers to markets around the globe—at a reasonable rate, according to Ashley. Along with reduced logistics costs, businesses operating out of the port enjoy streamlined importation and exportation processes, she explains.
And the latter, McDaniel says, is critical to shippers, since Texas has ranked as the nation’s top exporter since 2002. Last year alone, the state exported $289 billion in goods—with Europe and South America among the key import markets. Texas’ recipe for success is simple, McDaniel says: “We offer unbeatable advantages for companies looking to export products overseas—and our strategic geographic position puts companies in an ideal location to distribute goods.”
Also advantageous to businesses is Texas’ regulatory environment. McDaniel reveals that state lawmakers have cut the approval time for new business launches from 90 days to 30 days and have reauthorized the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF). Calling the latter “the largest deal-closing fund of its kind,” McDaniel says the TEF has created significant investment in Texas by offering cash grants to projects that create jobs and pit Texas sites against out-of-state options. So far, the TEF has awarded more than 100 grants totaling $500 million to Texas companies.
McDaniel says other key incentives include the Texas Enterprise Zone Program—which divvies out state sales and use tax refunds for projects in economically distressed areas—and the Texas Skills Development Fund, which finances job training programs for new and existing employees. When it comes to attracting investment and jobs, Texas’ incentives have been among the state’s greatest assets, McDaniel says.
It’s a sentiment shared by Portacool’s Ben Wulf. “The business climate here allows us to optimize our supply chain,” he says, “and we’re proud to say we’re born and bred in Texas. That’s where our products have been made and will continue to be made in the future.”
State of Emergence