Some people like to say this is the time of year when creative folks converge on Texas. I say, they're here all the time.
Granted, the numbers increase a bit for SXSW, Austin's annual technology, film and music conference. But historically, Texas has always been home to people with innovative spirits and unique talents. It's where the cutting edge comes together with what we call "good old-fashioned common sense" to make something extraordinary.
This is, after all, the place where Texas Instruments created the integrated circuit in the 1950s. This is the place where Ray Price revolutionized how people thought of country music. And this is the place where Robert Rodriguez elevated guerrilla filmmaking to a modern art form.
We've always been home to people who are willing to try new things, adopt new approaches, and carve new niches.
That's a tradition that's thriving as never before.
In fact, our state's creative culture is flourishing in an economic climate that's been ranked No. 1 in the nation for nine years in a row in an annual survey of CEOs.
Visionary companies like Facebook, Electronic Arts and Apple have picked Texas for expansions. Last year, Austin was selected as just the second city in the country to receive Google Fiber service, and AT&T has made Austin one of the first places to get its own GigaPower network.
Our latest creative surge is the result of a convergence of brain power and opportunity - the same combination that helped California's "Silicon Valley."
Texas is home to some of the greatest universities in the world, including UT-Austin, Texas A&M and Rice University - all tier-1 research schools. Those schools are home to both game-changing research and visionary students, a potent mix that has already been making great strides in biotech, communications and energy.
Throw in an economic climate that maximizes any venture's chances for success, and you have the perfect place to make strides in whatever next-generation industry you choose.
Our low-tax environment and reasonable cost of living also means more people have more money to pursue their passions, and that includes the arts.
Austin isn't the Live Music Capital of the World for nothing, and other cities across the state are steadily evolving into major hubs of a variety of fine arts. Dallas-Fort Worth is home to an array of world-class galleries. San Antonio is a bastion of state history and fine music. And Houston has a thriving theater district that is surpassed only by New York City in terms of theater seats.
That helps attract, and keep, the best and brightest in all fields, both those who produce the art and those who simply enjoy it.
Statewide, from those who prepare the stage to those who play the strings, the Texas music industry employs more than 140,000 Texans.
We're also home to a burgeoning film scene that hosts a variety of major films and television shows. The Oscar winning-film "There Will Be Blood" was principally shot in Texas, and, just last month, the NBC series "Revolution" shot scenes on the Texas Capitol grounds.
As a whole, major TV productions in Texas - those expected to spend $3.5 million or more - are up 400 percent over the past six months.
That's helping train and develop an energetic and capable corps of filmmakers, actors and technicians, vital elements of an infrastructure that will keep our state competitive for these kinds of projects - especially those fleeing the oppressive taxes, high costs and crippling regulations in states like California.
The video game industry already employs more than 5,000 people in Texas, and is also showing strong signs of further growth. Since last fall, the number of major video games being produced in our state has increased 50 percent.
It all comes down to freedom: the freedom to create, the freedom to explore and the freedom to put more of your resources into producing the best possible final product, whether that's a film, a song or video game.
This is an exciting time in Texas, and I encourage all of you to enjoy yourself during SXSW and - for those from out of state - take time to see why the Lone Star State is the best place to do business of any kind.