When it comes to business expansion and recruitment, Arizona and Texas are two of the most successful and competitive states in the country.
Both have emerged from the pandemic era with more jobs than before it started. With low tax rates and friendly business climates, both continue to be top targets for companies moving from states with higher tax rates, like California.
While they compete for business, they compete for talent, too.
And Texas business leaders snared some talent from Arizona a little over a year ago when they recruited Glenn Hamer. Hamer had a 14-year run as CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry before accepting a job leading the Texas Association of Business, a similar group there.
Under his leadership, the Arizona chamber became the state’s most powerful business advocacy group, scoring a host of public policy wins that, among other things, cut the state’s corporate income tax rate, lowered commercial property tax assessment ratios and increased capital investment in Arizona.
Those achievements strengthened Arizona’s business climate and positioned it to compete with competitors like Texas, which has an advantage in the sheer size of its economy.
“Texas hosts about 50 Fortune 500 companies and attracts more. The economy is massive and diversified. At about $2 trillion, it’s ranked as the ninth largest in the world among countries,” Hamer says. “Texas is also far and away the largest export state. I really look at the state as a country in terms of the output here.”
Despite the size differences, there are common traits in both states that give them high appeal as well as a competitive edge. “Arizona and Texas feel like cousins. We’re both border states. We’re both growing fast. We’re both well-governed,” Hamer says.
Hamer did significant work to keep the tax structure low in Arizona and that’s a priority for him in Texas, as well. “We are working on tax policies that will keep Texas in the lead for major capital projects and workforce issues around the clock. Given that Texas is the energy capital of the world, this area is also critical for us. It’s more important than ever that the U.S. takes an all-of-the-above strategy to power our economy and keep the free world brimming with energy. Then, Texas can lead the way as the country’s leading producer of natural gas, oil, wind and hydrogen and now also as a powerhouse for electric car production with Tesla.”
One of the prime lures common to both states is they both have a welcoming attitude. “Arizona is a welcoming state. It’s very easy for someone new to fit right in. Something like 70% of adults moved in from somewhere else. As a guy who moved to Arizona after growing up in New York, I couldn’t believe how friendly the people were to me.”
Hamer has discovered a similar attitude in the Longhorn state. “Texas is just as welcoming but comes with a twist: roots. Something like 80% of Texans remain in Texas. We have people at TAB who are sixth and seventh generation, and that’s not uncommon. These roots mean that while you’re coming into a warm, great place, there are a few more controls on the speed of joining the big kids’ table, so to speak.”
Part of the welcoming environment is establishing a network of relationships, which is key to any leader.
Hamer had a long list of mentors whom he credits for his success in Arizona, including a handful of well-known leaders from the private sector: Steve Twist, Michael Bidwill, Reg Ballantyne, Pat Barnes and the late Doug Yonko; and the public sector: Sen. Jon Kyl, Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson.
With one year now under his belt now in Texas, he’s assembling his network there and has spent a lot of time traveling throughout the state hearing from leaders.
“When you take on a new job, you need to work extra hard and listen to all the people who will talk to you about the organization. You need to understand what people like and what they want to improve,” he says. “You learn by listening, asking the right questions, and making clear that their words will be respected and incorporated into how you approach your job.”
Hamer quickly adapted to Arizona’s lifestyle and it looks like he’s doing the same thing in Texas. “You also need to embrace the culture,” he says. “For me, that meant getting a pair of Lucchese boots, eating lots of BBQ, and beginning to learn the Texas two-step.”
Hamer was quick on his feet in Arizona, and it looks like that’s working for him in Texas, too.
Arizona vs. Texas
- Small businesses: 610,000 ventures
- 99.5% of business market
- 1.1 million employees
- 43% of state workforce
- Top industries: real estate and rental and leasing; and professional, scientific and technical services
- Small businesses: 3 million ventures
- 99.8% of business market
- 4.9 million workers
- 45% of state workforce
- Top industries: construction; and professional, scientific and technical services
Source: Small Business Administration
Don Henninger, executive director of Scottsdale Coalition of Today & Tomorrow (SCOTT), spent more than 30 years in the newspaper business in the Valley with The Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette, where he served in numerous roles, including managing editor, and at the Phoenix Business Journal, where he was publisher for 14 years. SCOTT is a nonprofit group of business and civic leaders who work to educate and advocate for issues important to the city’s economic health and quality of life.