Texas Continues to Thrive During Recession

It’s hard to put a finger on a single reason, but as the Atlantic Monthly notes in this article, “Maybe it’s the lack of a state income or capital gains tax. Or the dearth of union workers. Or the plentiful labor supply on the border of Mexico, or the lower wages, or the stable and lean regulations. There’s something about Texas that makes it the most popular place for business to do its business…” I’d say that all of these factors play into Texas’ success. It would be great if New Mexico’s political leaders took a closer look for themselves.

Another report from Business Week finds that Houston is the American city with “the best mix of job openings, pay, and affordability.” Houston, of course, is unique among large US cities that lack zoning laws. Is this — along with the attributes like a lack of an income tax and less unionization — the factor that makes Houston’s economy so strong? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that the City of Albuquerque has a long way to go before it becomes a business-friendly place.

The following letter of mine on this topic was printed recently in the Business Outlook section of the Albuquerque Journal:

Mayor Berry should be applauded for his Administration’s efforts to streamline the business permitting and setup process. His statement that “business people don’t make money and jobs wandering through a government maze” is spot-on.

But, perhaps the fact that new programs are necessary to assist entrepreneurs and small-business owners with these processes is a sign that the City has too many rules and regulations in the first place? As the Mayor moves forward in his efforts to make Albuquerque a more business-friendly place, he and City Council should take it upon themselves to carefully analyze this maze of rules and regulations to determine whether they are absolutely necessary and cost-effective or whether certain ones should be scrapped entirely.

Among the most extensive and costly regulations are zoning and land-use planning which must be placed on the table for major changes. Notably, Houston, a city that does not have zoning regulations, has the highest level of entrepreneurial activity out of the 15 largest U.S. cities, this according to the latest Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity.

While helping guide businesses through Albuquerque’s thicket of regulations will undoubtedly help, more dramatic reforms will spur job creation and economic growth in the Duke City.

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