2014 Archives

Texas v. California: This Ain't Over When Toyota Leaves


The following is from the April 30, 2014, edition of Forbes magazine. Bernard Weinstein, an economist and associate director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, provided expertise for this story.

May 15, 2014

By Dale Buss

About the only things they have in common are severe drought and the blessings of high-tech-industry havens in really cool cities. So, long-simmering tensions between Texas and California are breaking into the open over the poaching of Toyota’s North American headquarters.

The tone has been set at the top by battling governors. Barbs aplenty also are flying across the miles and over the internet between rank-and-file defenders of the deep-blue Pacific Coast way of life and blood red-state denizens of the tumbleweed who have the upper hand in this particular turn of events.

Typical of the vitriol is the back-and-forth between fans of California and Texas in the comment string attached to this contributor’s first story on the move. . .

Meanwhile, typical of the slings and arrows arcing from California to Texas are strong critiques of the general level of learning in Texas by Californians who think their education system is superior.

“A lot of people would rather donate their bodies to science while still alive than move to a place like” Plano, Texas, one commenter wrote. “They probably have laws forbidding smart conversations and whole sentences.”

But Texas’s defenders are quick to rebut that charge. Some note Los Angeles’s own failing public schools. And Texas apparently has been smart enough to absorb the influx of many other huge relocations before Toyota’s.

“Other relocations came amid concerns about qualified workers in Texas,” said Bernard Weinstein, an economic-development expert at Southern Methodist University. “But whether you’re talking about medium-skilled workers or technicians and engineers, it’s not going to be an issue. We have a huge labor pool at all skill levels, and they’re fairly sophisticated technologically.

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem,” Weinstein said. And Plano itself “has a very good public school system. And we have some excellent suburban school systems where, I assume, most of the kids [of Toyota staffers] will be attending. Our good school districts are as good as California’s” even though teachers on average are paid more in California, he said.

Read the full story.

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