Corporate relocations to Texas have dominated headlines for years. In 2022 alone, the DFW area saw over a dozen major corporate relocations.
Ed Curtis, CEO of YTexas, has served as an ambassador to several major corporations getting acclimated to the state.
A native of New York, Curtis first took a road trip out to Texas in 1993 and immediately decided that he would move to the Lone Star State. The move was prompted by the friendliness he did not often see in New York.
In an exclusive interview, Curtis told The Dallas Express, “100% it was the people that made me decide to move.”
“Back then, I had a really strong New York accent, and people would say, ‘You’re a Yankee,’ but then they would immediately welcome me with their hospitality,” he said.
Curtis got his start in banking and began helping people looking to move to Texas with financing. It was around that time he got interested in economic development.
He joined the Texas Economic Development Corporation, known for its slogan, “Go Big in Texas.” He learned firsthand how former Governor Rick Perry sold business leaders on Texas.
“Rick Perry was the best at shaking hands and having a beer with people and telling them how great it was doing business in Texas,” Curtis said. “And people were interested.”
“Many people would say, ‘I would love to move to Texas, but we are from New York. How could we get acclimated?'” Curtis explained. “That gave me the idea of starting something to help them once they get here.”
Curtis counted Toyota, Topgolf, and Kubota, which all relocated to the state in the last decade, as some of his first clients. Curtis focuses on companies’ lifecycle of needs over a five-year period after relocation.
“We have evolved into a resource where we help companies get connected with the right people, get good press, expand their network, and meet legislators,” he said.
Curtis said 2013 was the beginning of the wave. It started slowly, initially in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and expanded eventually to Austin with the tech industry.
“Smaller tech companies started to move to Austin, leading up to the big one, Tesla. Where Austin was just Dell, now you are seeing others move, like Oracle, Tesla, Google, Facebook, and Samsung,” he explained.
“Then Covid hit, and it hockey-sticked. Everybody in the world moved here.”
YTexas tracks corporate relocations and said 2021 was a record year with 62.
Last year saw 27 corporate relocations to Texas, with 17 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Curtis said manufacturing, biotech, and automotive are notable industries coming in droves.
“In Texas, we’re builders. A lot of the off-shoring and near-shoring resurgence that’s happening through Mexico and the gulf is benefitting Texas greatly,” Curtis said.
“Amazon is building a facility up the I-35 corridor because they see all this activity, and there’s plenty of land to build these big fulfillment centers. People like Elon Musk are drooling because he comes out here [and] is naming a city.”
Curtis asked rhetorically, “Who can move into a major market and rename a city like Starbase?”
Texas’ reputation as a business-friendly state certainly doesn’t hurt. CEO Magazine named it the Best State for Business for the 18th straight year in 2022.
“A lot of people in the aerospace industry say the thing that stands out — that makes their lives easier — is that the regulatory environment (in Texas) doesn’t prevent us from doing the things we wanted to do,” Curtis explained. “They are not strapped with regulations that prevent them from innovating.”
He said the announcement of Fortune 500 company Caterpillar moving to Irving last year indicates more to come.
“To get Caterpillar out of Chicago with all its infrastructure development there … it says a lot,” Curtis noted.
Still, as reported by The Dallas Express, despite the large number of companies setting up shop in DFW, many choose places outside Dallas itself, as the city’s outdated regulations and backlogged permitting process have hindered its development in recent years.
YTexas hosted its first summit last year on the field at AT&T Stadium. It will host its second annual YTexas Summit at the stadium on October 6 and has invited any new company with something to showcase.
Curtis explained that the influx of financial companies moving to the state leads him to believe that Texas could eventually challenge New York as an economic hub for the country.
“If you look at Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, they are expanding greatly here. Schwab is already in Texas, and Chase is employing more people in Texas than they are in New York.”
Curtis opined, “Ten years from now, we might be the financial center in the U.S. We may not take over New York, but we might be a close second.”
The rate of relocations may not be growing like it was; it is likely leveling off, Curtis said. Given the high clip relocations had already been sustaining, this is still nothing to scoff at.
“It’s a place that has had a long reputation of being that pioneering place,” Curtis observed. “If you had an idea or wanted to change the world, Texas was the place to give you the freedom to do that.”
“Because we are in this innovation economy, that again bodes well for Texas,” said the man who has helped industry leaders adjust to their new locations in the Lone Star State. “It’s a place you can go and change an industry.”