this and this." And we'll have roaring debates on issues like whether it's appropriate to change over to private-sector call centers versus public call centers for health and human services.

That's the everyday IT work that goes on. To me, the more intriguing thing is how you make Texas the destination for innovators. I want people from California because the business climate has gotten onerous there. I want folks from the east coast to move to Texas because we have great weather and great live music, and this is a cool place to live.

That, to me, is the real challenge. And one that I think Texas is well placed to compete in. I look at these people as being not unlike professional athletes. They're going to go where the money is, and you need to have a little [George] Steinbrenner in you to compete for them.

They have big egos, they're the best in the world at what they do, and we want them to come here. So we need money, we need prestige, we need all of the recruitment tools that you can use, because these people are being wined and dined, and persuaded to come to particular places today. The good news is, we're at the ground floor of this, we got in the game at the right time with enough money to be competitive. So the $200 million we have in the Emerging Technology Fund is a good balance to start with.


Q: Let's talk a little bit about that. Obviously, you're competing globally. Tell me more about the fund and your vision for what it can do.

A: We know that there will be $2 trillion over the next decade that is created by technology. It will happen somewhere, so how do we get a piece of that? First and foremost, we think it's important to have a fund to be competitive, to close the deals. It's been a proven winner for us in the Texas Enterprise Fund. That's a different concept from the Emerging Technology Fund, because the enterprise fund is for bringing capital improvements in a lot of places. But it's similar in that it's a pool of money you can use to close the deal.

Because of the very specialized nature of what we're dealing with, we've created a peer review board that will recommend how we use the Emerging Technology Fund. We'll make the final decisions, with some very bright, capable men and women giving us advice.

This is a collaborative effort of the federal government, the state government, and in some cases, the counties and cities putting dollars into a deal to get somebody to come to their particular location to create whatever they're going to create. In the old days, economic development was all about getting capital, and that's not to say we still don't do that. I mean, we'll go after a GM or a Toyota or you name it plant to come and build a truck tomorrow. We're going to be out there luring people to build manufacturing in the state. But we also understand that there's this extraordinary amount of money that's going to be developed in the technology world, and it is important for Texas to be on the cutting edge of this.

So having a well funded public school system where employers know there's a steady work force, having higher-education institutions in the state that are on the cutting edge of technology, having our current congressional delegation being able to bring more national science academy dollars and more Department of Defense grants into the state -- all of it works in combination.


Q: Since education is such a key part of creating the well educated work force you need,

Steve Towns  |  Executive Editor