Our film and music industries, our emerging video game and interactive media companies and our travel industry all represent communities that have to be creative, adaptable and innovative if they want to continue succeeding.
Luckily, Texas is chock full of innovative and creative people, qualities that reflect our state's character and pioneer origins. From the initial oil strikes of the early 20th century through the heart of the space race against the Soviet Union, Texas, time and again, has been home to cutting-edge ideas - ideas paired with a "can-do" attitude that, I believe, is unmatched anywhere else.
If something hasn't been done, it's only because a Texan hasn't tried it yet.
The reason why is simple: we've created a fertile climate where innovators are free to create and nurture their ideas, and we keep government out of the way.
The results have been overwhelming, almost difficult to believe, especially if you're from California.
I don't mean to pick on California. I like California, but they make it so easy.
We've led the nation in exports for 10 straight years. We've been the job creation epicenter for a decade, and we're consistently the top destination for people moving in search of the American Dream.
Some might call all of this, "Texas swagger."
I just call it the facts, and the facts have been piling up in Texas' favor for quite a while now.
Don't just take my word for it.
A couple of weeks ago, CEO Magazine named Texas the country's "Best State for Business" for the eighth consecutive year.
That particular honor is based on a survey of CEOs from across the nation.
Those CEOs were asked, taking into account taxes, regulatory climate, quality of life and quality of workforce, which state is best? And for almost a full decade, those CEOs have answered "Texas" every time.
That publication is far from being alone in its praise of the Lone Star State.
Texas has received accolades from media outlets like USA Today, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Site Selection Magazine.
More importantly than bringing in good press, we've been bringing in jobs.
As we stand here today, Texas has regained all the jobs lost in the recent recession, and we're building on that success, with the private sector adding more than 300,000 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012.
That's more private sector jobs added than any other state.
Our unemployment rate is well below the national average, even as we continue to attract job-seekers from all across the United States.
Again, this isn't bragging, it's just the facts.
Job-seekers and job creators are coming to Texas.
They're coming here because they know we've made the Lone Star State the best place for job creation in the country.
We've made a place where employers know they're safe to invest in their business and watch it grow.
We've made a place where they won't be hindered by exorbitant taxes, wrapped up in bureaucratic red tape or find themselves at the mercy of predatory attorneys, seeking to make steady money off extensive, drawn-out court cases.
We've made a place with a world-class workforce that's capable of fulfilling whatever needs an employer has, whether they're producing a life-saving vaccine, working an assembly line or coding a successful video game.
We've created an economic environment that has consistently drawn major employers to our state and convinced many others to expand their presence here.
One company you might have heard of, Apple, is more than doubling its presence in Central Texas, adding 3,600 new jobs to its Austin campus.
Other cutting-edge companies like eBay, Facebook and Electronic Arts have also taken root here in Texas and clearly like what they see.
These visionary companies choose Texas because they know that innovation is fueled by freedom, and here in Texas, we'll continue to work hard to foster an environment that protects those freedoms.
Now, not only is our state full of opportunity and talented people, it's also pretty photogenic.
That's why Texas has been a player in the movie industry dating back to its earliest days, from "Wings," the first film to ever win the Oscar for best picture to more recent productions like "The Lying Game" and TNT's upcoming "Dallas" reboot, which premieres in June.
How wrong would it have been for "Dallas" to be shot anywhere else in the world?
J.R. and Bobby Ewing in Vancouver? I don't think so.
Producers choose Texas because of our beautiful scenery and legacy of great films, but they also get the benefit of an experienced and well-regarded crew base throughout the state.
Our goal is to have the best writers, set designers, directors, grips and gaffers here and ready to work in Texas, so we are one of the first states that people think of when they begin their next production.
More than just having the prettiest locations, we want producers to leave money on the table in other states and come here because the best crews, resources and opportunities are in Texas.
We've made progress toward that goal.
Over the last few years, we've demonstrated that when given an incentive program, Texas can compete against other states that spend more freely.
That's important because it's an investment that pays huge dividends.
A 2011 UT study indicated that for every dollar we spend in our Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, we generate almost $19 in private sector economic activity.
Now, I'm an Animal Science major from Texas A&M, but even I can tell that's a pretty good return on an investment.
While we continue to play a significant, and I hope a growing role in the more established forms of media, we'll continue to encourage development in newer media enterprises, including video games.
I've long maintained that Texas is the perfect place for video gamers because, much like the video gaming culture, our state is built upon the foundation of competition.
It's that spirit of competition that drives us, as a state to constantly improve ourselves to make it harder for our rivals to beat us.
Game developers want to be part of our economic success as much as any other industry.
Texas currently has at least 167 game development companies in the state, employing nearly 4,800 Texans.
That ranks us second [to California] in the nation in computer and video game employment.
And going back to that spirit of competition, you can bet we'll work to climb to the top of that list too with plenty of growth possible in emerging clusters in Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth
To meet the demand from that growth, 24 Texas colleges and universities are currently offering video game design and development programs.
The Guildhall at SMU, as an example, is already acclaimed worldwide for its program, and development programs are also springing up at Baylor and UT-Austin.
And Texas A&M's Department of Visualization, or "VizLab," is rapidly developing a solid reputation in the video game community, too.
Thanks to all of these efforts, video game companies will have a solid pool of qualified programmers ready to work for them.
Video gaming is no small industry, either generating an estimated $25 billion in annual revenue.
With the ongoing explosion of social gaming and mobile gaming that number will continue to rise.
Our Moving Image Industry Incentive Program also plays a key role in attracting more of that business our way as we've begun increasing the amount of grants we'll award to draw more developers to Texas.
Texas has a young, talented, and savvy population that understands the gaming culture and wants to be a part of it.
That's good for them, it's good for the industry, and it's great for Texas.
Now, while Texas looks good on the big screen, and you can enjoy the benefits of our talented developers while playing "Words with Friends," there are some people who might even want to experience our state in person.
That's where the talented men and women involved in our ever-expanding tourism industry come in.
Travel is big business in Texas, and it's getting bigger.
Preliminary numbers show travel in Texas in 2011 topped the previous year by about five percent, with more than 208 million people visiting Texas destinations from within the United States alone, and total travel spending coming in at an estimated $63.4 billion.
That's the highest amount of travel spending we've ever recorded.
While numbers on international travelers haven't been released yet, the nation as a whole welcomed 62 million international visitors last year, and we expect a good many of those people made their way to the Lone Star State once or twice.
To give you an idea what kind of numbers we get from international visitors in 2010 about 7.4 million international travelers visited Texas spending $4.3 billion.
So you can see why we like to keep our state as warm and welcoming as we can...to visitors from all around the globe.
For that, we are all indebted to the hard-working men and women who make travel in Texas the rich and rewarding experience it is, well as those who work in my office's Economic Development and Tourism division for spreading the word.
Texas recoups $7 in tax revenue from visitors for every dollar we spend on advertising.
Of course, advertising only gets us so far, without the hotels, cruise ships, museums and attractions to make a visit to Texas comfortable and worthwhile, we'd be left with a lot of pretty scenery and nobody to share it with.
Once again, I thank you all for having me here today.
These are exciting times to be in exciting industries like yours, and I believe that through your continued dedication, your hard work, and your innovative spirit, Texas will continue to be at the forefront in your respective industries.
By working together, we can help Texas continue to be the best place in the world to live, work, raise a family and grow your business.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great State of Texas.