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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

CEOs Bring Their Companies to the Lone Star State and Earn a Texas-Sized Welcome

By Peggy Fikac Published October 2018

From smoothies to smooth advances in tech, companies are coming to Texas with fresh ideas, jobs and a commitment to their new communities.

Firefly Lightning Rocket Engine Test in Briggs, Texas.
Firefly won the 2016 Innovator of the Year Award.  

Their contributions are highlighted in the annual YTexas RēLO Awards, presented by a consortium of chief executive officers who want to make those who relocate feel at home and valued.

The award presentation is just one move by YTexas to help company leaders, their personnel and families make a smooth transition personally and professionally while providing growth opportunities for their businesses.

Other efforts are ongoing, such as opening doors for strategic partnerships and relationships with vendors and suppliers; making connections with state and local government officials; and helping with talent acquisition.

Some initiatives have a particularly personal touch, such as finding internships and providing job mentoring for children and arranging tours of the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room.

“You go find them, we’ll take care of them once they’re here,” says Ed Curtis, YTexas owner and CEO, describing its message to Texas officials who recruit businesses.

Many companies want to feel at home in the Lone Star State.

Texas repeatedly has won the Governor’s Cup awarded by Site Selection magazine to states with the greatest number of new facilities and expansions that meet its criteria for noteworthy impact.

Texas had 594 of these projects in 2017, the largest number among states (Nebraska won the per capita award).

The YTexas RēLO Awards honor standout companies that have moved their headquarters to Texas in the preceding five years, with past winners ranging from a restaurant retailer to manufacturers to information technology specialists.

YTexas focuses on three key elements in recognizing companies:

  • community, defined as a commitment to working with Texas-based vendors and other entities and exercising philanthropy.
  • commerce, a by-the-numbers category that includes elements such as jobs, acquisitions and purchasing.
  • culture, which focuses on the environment the company creates for its employees.

The consortium weights the awards criteria to take into account the accomplishments of companies of varying size. An Ambassador of the Year award goes to a CEO who has demonstrated a commitment to helping companies make the transition to Texas, and YTexas’ “Featured 50” companies earn honors in the categories of Gamechanger, Innovator and Texas All-In.

This year’s Featured 50 were unveiled Sept. 4, and award winners were announced at a late September gala in Dallas. They include OpTic Gaming, winner of the Texas All-In Award; Quantum Materials Corp., Innovator of the Year; Army Futures Command, Gamechanger; and Andreas Schultz, CFO-North America for Ottobock, Ambassador of the Year. The awards demonstrate the breadth of business interests attracted to Texas.

In 2017, global IT services provider NTT DATA Services, which moved from Boston to Plano, received the Gamechanger Award. Aravive Biologics, a company developing cancer-fighting therapies, won the Innovator Award; it came to Houston from San Francisco.

Jamba Juice, which relocated from the San Francisco Bay area to Frisco, won the 2017 Texas All-In Award. Since winning, it has been acquired by Focus Brands.

The Ambassador of the Year recognition for 2017 went to CoreSpace President and CEO Liana Dunlap, highlighting the importance of women executives to YTexas’ work. She moved her company from Los Angeles to Dallas, where the IT hosting provider owns and operates a data center.

“We appreciate the contributions of the women-led businesses that are relocating to Texas, and we look forward to adding more women to our statewide network of CEOs,” Curtis says, noting that the goals of YTexas align with those of the Governor’s Commission for Women as it seeks to develop greater opportunities for women-owned businesses.

Manufacturers also have earned top prizes, with Kubota Tractor Corp. receiving the Gamechanger Award in 2016, and the company then known as Firefly Space Systems winning the 2016 Innovator Award. Both moved from California, with Kubota coming to Grapevine and Firefly to Cedar Park.

Since winning its award, Firefly has gone through bankruptcy and re-emerged as Firefly Aerospace, a development that did nothing to dim its shine in YTexas’ eyes.

“They emerged from bankruptcy, now employ over 140 Texans in high-paying jobs and are fully funded for their rocket development effort. They will be launching their first satellite into orbit next year,” Curtis says, adding that the company’s perseverance is in line with its award. “They showed true Texas grit in the way they overcame significant adversity.”

The awards event is an illustration of the networking promoted by YTexas.

“The economy in Texas is like no other economy, and I think a lot of people that move here don’t realize the vastness of the state. What happens is they move to Dallas, and after six months, they’ll look at each other and say, ‘Why don’t we have an office in Houston? It’s the fourth-largest economy in the country, and it’s only four hours away,’” Curtis says. “YTexas is the conduit that helps them navigate the entire state – and personal connections accelerate that process.” FN

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