Education and business opportunities are helping Texas lead the nation with a positive economic environment. Governor Greg Abbott told a packed Baylor Club audience Thursday afternoon in the Waco Chamber of Commerce's State of the State luncheon.
West Avenue Elementary kindergarteners Kennedi Oliver and Jaceston Evans helped open the luncheon by leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, right after Baylor's VirtuOSO - A Cappella choir sang a stirring version of the National Anthem. The governor also visited briefly with Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain and Board Trustees Stephanie Korteweg, Allen Sykes and Angela Tekell before addressing the crowd.
Abbott said numerous CEOs have told him they bring their companies to Texas because of the state's high quality workforce. The governor praised local academy and dual credit programs like Waco ISD's GWAMA and GWAHCA and those at Texas State Technical College and McLennan Community College for achieving two key objectives: helping students in high school get the training they need, and getting college credits at a low cost that puts them on a fast track to a high paying job.
"Texas wants you to succeed - we need you to succeed," Abbott said, and then added, "because when you succeed, Texas succeeds."
He said the state is ranked #2 in America in having women-owned businesses, and pledged by the time he leaves office that ranking will improve. Abbott also cited data that said 60 percent of those companies have minority owners.
The governor also promised to continue developing individually focused education in high schools, saying, "one size doesn't fit all, and technology provides that tool" to improve those numbers. He hopes in the next legislative session lawmakers will continue focusing on early education advancements and enhance improvements to include higher education as well.
Abbott acknowledged Waco plays a pivotal role in both commerce and transportation in Texas with I-35 cutting through the city, explaining "your needs are our needs for the state." He said the state has promised to spend $70 billion on transportation over the next 10 years, and that includes central Texas.