Like Perry, Abbott says he’ll leave Texas to recruit businesses

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to a group of people

Paighten Harkins

PAUL J. WEBER
Associated Press

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who spent his first months on the job dismantling legacies of Rick Perry, revealed Wednesday he is reviving a famous hallmark of his predecessor: traveling the U.S. and world to recruit businesses to Texas.

Doing so Abbott could raise his national political profile after taking office in January and immediately presiding over the Legislature, which adjourned this week until 2017, after delivering on his orders to cut taxes and boost border security spending.

Abbott wouldn’t reveal his first destinations, but he said he would go only where there’s a deal to make.

“We are not going to go wandering around just hoping that we find gold,” Abbott said.

Perry, who is expected to formally announce a second run for the White House on Thursday, spent years using economic development trips to promote the Texas economy and his own political ambitions. He cast himself as a boardroom deal-closer who kept the “Texas Miracle” economy humming by poaching frustrated companies from overbearing states.

Critics question how much credit Perry’s trips deserve.

One of Perry’s last deals was giving Toyota $40 million in taxpayer funds to leave California in 2014, but executives of the automaker have cited being closer to their manufacturing base in the South as a primary factor for moving.

Abbott will continue to use hundreds of millions of state dollars in the Texas Enterprise Fund, which Perry started, as bait for businesses. But other economic programs founded under Perry haven’t survived, such as a program Abbott scratched that gave $200 million to risky startups.

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