McALLEN, RGV – Because of a scathing state audit that found incentives funding was being given to corporations that did not even apply for it, legislators are looking to overhaul if not abolish the Texas Enterprise Fund.
If the TEF, which is run by the Governor’s Office, survives it needs to be restructured in such a way that more money is allocated outside of The Triangle, a state House panel was told on Tuesday.
The Triangle is the name given to the region of the Texas between Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Most of the TEF funding awarded to corporations and institutions went on projects inside The Triangle.
“There’s more to Texas than the triangle,” testified Keith Patridge, president and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation.
“I look at it from a business perspective. That is my background. I know that when we are sitting here as a state with lots of assets that are sitting on the ground and they are not being utilized, why we would go in and give incentives to someone to go in and locate in The Triangle where we have to add capacity to our roads, sewer, water, create air problems?”
Patridge was testifying before the House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock. Its hearing was held at the McAllen Convention Center. The focus was how to get more produce inspectors stationed on international ports of entry with the goal of getting truck traffic flowing across the international bridges at a much faster rate.
State Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, asked Patridge to comment on the TEF. Patridge joked that the panel may not want to hear his full commentary.
“I think that is something where we really need to take a hard look at it. Maybe we should incentivize those companies to locate in an area where we don’t have to invest in infrastructure,” Patridge added.
Springer liked what he heard from Patridge.
“I agree with you. That was some of the comments I made (in a previous hearing). I am glad we both share the same thoughts because while I’m on the northern border and you are on the southern border we both have understand there is more to the state than The Triangle,” Springer said.
It is not the case that some TEF funding does find its way to projects outside of The Triangle. Recently, the Governor’s Office awarded millions of dollars to SpaceX to ensure a commercial rocket launch facility is being in Texas and not Florida, Georgia or Puerto Rico. The result was that SpaceX agreed to build on Boca Chica beach near Brownsville. The project is widely regarded as being a “game changer” for the Rio Grande Valley, something that could spur more Fortune 500 companies to consider relocating in the region.