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Houston Matters

9 Ways To Make The Texas Economy More Resilient And Equitable

Policy experts from UH and UT-Austin say the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in the Texas economy and offer “A Playbook for Resiliency” to address them.

Waitress Fatima Hernandez, center, talks with Lulu Salcido, right, and Hamid Farzam at El Tiempo Cantina Friday, May 1, 2020, in Houston.
David J. Phillip/AP
Waitress Fatima Hernandez talks with customers at El Tiempo Cantina. The nine-point Playbook for Resiliency calls for access to health care, child care, and family-supporting wages for such positions.


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As Texas businesses continue to reopen in phases, some public policy experts are looking farther into the future. They want to make sure the Lone Star State is better prepared the next time a major crisis like the coronavirus pandemic occurs.

That’s why they’ve created A Playbook for Resiliency — nine steps they think the state needs to take as it rebuilds in order to make it stronger and more equitable.

Kirk Watson, a former State Senator and the new dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, and Steven Pedigo, director of the LBJ Urban Lab at UT-Austin, put together the plan.

Watson told Houston Matters with Craig Cohen the current crisis has revealed that the Texas economy isn’t as strong as we tend to think.

"A harsh light has been shined on us,” he said. “And we now know that our economy is nowhere near as resilient as that — that sense of security — that perceived luxury of affluence made us think."

From UH and UT-Austin

  1. Build partnerships instead of rivalries. Collaboration is essential if Texas is to achieve lasting resiliency. Local leaders have an invaluable view on what is happening on the ground, while the state government offers a broader picture of Texas’s overall needs.
  2. Foster resilience through economic inclusion and diversification. Let’s be innovative in how we grow our export sectors when we begin to reopen the state, while supporting the small and local businesses that bring character, creativity, and authenticity to Texas communities.
  3. Increase healthcare investments for economic development. Texas’s hospitals are not just providers of healthcare and centers of advanced research — they are job creators and have the potential to become important community catalysts.
  4. Lead the energy future. As the world’s leading knowledge and production center for energy, Texas must seize the opportunity to innovate and develop an alternative energy ecosystem for the future.
  5. Protect essential workers to protect Texas’s resiliency and future. They need access to affordable child care, guaranteed health care and family-supporting wages.
  6. Promote the growth of rural communities with state-supported investments. With a renewed focus, Texas’s rural communities can emerge as centers of entrepreneurship, improving the well-being of all Texans.
  7. Invest in the skills of Texans. It’s time to double down on our investments in the skills and pathways that expand economic opportunities for Texans, improving well-being across the board.
  8. Leverage Texas universities as community hubs and accelerators for talent and thought leadership. Texas universities can serve as laboratories for the development of practical solutions to intractable problems.
  9. Advance an infrastructure that supports the orderly growth of metropolitan Texas. As expensive as they are, digital and physical infrastructure projects can help to jumpstart the recovery by putting people to work, while laying the groundwork for a Texas that is more sustainable.