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(Following is a transcript of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s remarks on Thursday at a 12:30 p.m. news conference at which he announced the intention of J. Skinner Bakeryof Omaha, Neb., to expand into Paris. The news conference was in the former Sara Lee facility into which J. Skinner Modern Artisan Bakery plans to move into.)
Paris mayor Dr. AJ Hashmi: Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me the greatest pleasure to introduce to you today, someone who continues to impress me for his persistent work toward creation of new jobs for the state of Texas. Please join me in welcoming the governor of Texas, the Hon. Rick Perry.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry: Thank you. Mr. Mayor, it is an honor to be here, and I love coming to Paris and have been doing it for some time. I know there are lots of wonderful men and women who have come through Paris, Texas, that y’all have developed over the course of the years. I am completely and absolutely biased, though, when I make the statement that the finest product that Paris has ever developed was Coach Stallings. (applause). When I tell folks that I am biased, there’s a lot of reasons for that. One of them is I’m a fighting Texas Aggie, and I was just making the comment that it’s always good to be an Aggie, but right now it’s just real fun to be an Aggie. Go Johnny, go!
Anyway, this is a day of celebration. I was visiting with the mayor, just thinking about Paris has been up and down economically over the course of the years, and when some of the major employers were making decisions about whether they wanted to be here, and we were all working together — whether it was in my Agriculture Commissioner days or subsequent to that — but I just want to say to the Skinner family and to the corporation, thank you all.
Some of you here are as old as I am, and the bulk of you are not, but you’ll remember Skinner Raisin Bran that this company back through the years developed, and that was one of the great products in that line. They don’t own that product line anymore, but it brings back great memories. And now, to have them come into Paris – this is the right facility for Paris, and they’re making the right call to bring this facility back to life.
I want to say thanks just to the people of Paris for continually working and creating the work force that a company like Skinner would … you know, they could be anywhere in the country, they could be anywhere in the world, and they chose Lamar County because they understand the workforce here is the real underlying strength.
For the people who are going to be employed here, this is a great day – people who are going to be able to take care of their family better because the Skinners believe in this community, they believe in this facility.
On top of Campbell Soup announcing they’re going to be making an expansion here, I’ve got to say that Paris and the State of Texas are on quite a roll economically from the news that’s coming in. Other states may feel we’re getting more than our fair share of good economic news, and I tell people, you know what, you make your good news.
You are part of that through the years as we were working on the economic plan for the State of Texas. And the fact is, today’s announcement is the result of a lot of hard work – hard work from our friends over at James Skinner, and officials right here at the local level, and hard work from Texans across the state who have made that phrase ‘Made in Texas’ a worldwide mark now. (applause).
When you hear ‘Made in Texas,’ you think about some of the projects that have moved into this state over the last decade. Caterpillar comes to mind. Every Caterpillar engine made in the world is made in Seguin, Texas. They opened a 1.1 million square foot facility to develop all of the excavators for John Deere. Those are global companies that have global impact. And this project is one that is going to have global impact. And that hard work put us in position to be able to close this deal.
The Texas Enterprise Fund has now been in place for nearly 10 years, some $487 million, and the result has been $17.4 billion of capital investment in this state. We’re now somewhere over 66,000 jobs directly attributable to that enterprise fund. I would suggest that were that deal-closing fund not in place, we would not have been the recipient of a lot of those major properties that came to the state of Texas that are funding Christmases in Texas today. There are people who are going to have a better Christmas because of decisions that our friends in Austin, Texas, made over the last decade.
We have made a commitment to conservative principles over the last decade as well that are the foundation of this economy. We don’t spend all the money. We have that balanced budget every two years. I would suggest and defend strongly that those decisions-makers in Austin have made good and thoughtful decisions. And listen, it’s not just me, it’s the men and women like the folks at James Skinner who have to wake up every day and face the impact of taxes and regulations and competition, who make decisions about where they’re going to locate or to relocate or to expand. For the eighth year in a row, CEO magazine has chosen Texas as the No. 1 state in the nation to do business, and we’re working real hard to make it nine in a row. (applause).
Coach Stallings told me he was talking to a group of foreign investors about coming into the United States and investments, and Foreign Direct Investment magazine this last year chose Texas as the No. 1 state in the nation for foreign investment . Coach and I agree that it’s having those types of relationships with countries that may not know as much about America — may even be considered to be not our friends in some circles — but the fact is the way they get to be our friends is we do business with them. We are fair with them, and they need to be fair with us. In the global economy, that is the type of reputation that the State of Texas is building globally, where companies will come and invest in this state because they know that there’s still freedom in America, they know there is a place they can come invest their capital, find that skilled workforce, have a good return on their investment. And that’s what we’ve worked very hard to do over the last decade.
It all starts with having a job-friendly climate. I was in California Friday. It’s a beautiful place to visit, but I wasn’t out there for the beautiful weather. I was out there to talk to business men and women about relocating out of San Diego and Southern California . That’s a beautiful part of the world, but the fact is they’re raising their taxes and making it almost impossible for businesses to stay in California. Well, I want them to know there’s a place they can keep more of what they work for. That place is Texas, and it’s that kind of competition that will make America strong.
It didn’t happen by accident. Over the course of the last 12 years, we’ve put into place a tax policy, regulatory policy, legal policy – we passed the most sweeping tort reform in the nation. I bet if you talk to the Skinner Company, that one of the reasons they’re looking to relocate here is they know they’re protected from frivolous lawsuits. When we passed that “loser pay” protection in 2011, they pay attention. It makes a difference to companies that they’re able to invest into their company or to make better profits instead of spending those dollars defending frivolous lawsuits at the courthouse.
We have set out to create a Texas where people know that they can find the skilled workforce for the technical jobs that are required at a plant like this, that the workforce is going to be available. And Pam (Anglin, president of Paris Junior College), what y’all are doing at Paris Junior College is part of it. I will suggest to you that they came here is what you all are doing – the nimbleness, the flexibility of your being able to address the job needs — whether it is in Skinner, whether it is Campbell Soup, or whether it is some other company that your economic development professionals are talking to.
We have truly dedicated ourselves to cultivating this workforce in this state, and it’s made a real difference, I think, in the course of the last decade.
I want to say to all of you, thank you for allowing all of us to come. Merry Christmas. I hope all of you have a wonderful and happy holiday, and an announcement like this gives us reason to truly be thankful.