HOUSTON (KTRK) --Governor Greg Abbott told Eyewitness News the key to long term growth during periods of low energy prices is employment diversification.
The governor spoke with Eyewitness News reporter Tom Abrahams via phone before leaving Davos, Switzerland on his way back to Texas. He was in Davos attending the World Economic Forum where he participated on a panel with executives from the energy industry. He also visited Israel on the trip, during which he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He acknowledged there is international concern over the low price of oil, which is below $30 a barrel and has forced tens of thousands of layoffs in the energy sector.
"Oil is of course is an international commodity," he said. "But this is something that Texans have grown accustomed to in this sense: Every decade in my adult life there's been a downturn in the price of oil and this decade is no different. What we need to do is two things. One is we need to be prepared for challenges like this but two, very importantly, the reason why I went to Israel, the reason why I'm in, why I went to the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland right now is to bring more jobs that have nothing to do whatsoever with regard to the energy sector so that Texans can further diversify our economy so that even if we have a downturn in the price of oil, Texas is still going to have a very robust job base."
The governor said he believes this is a temporary downturn in the price of oil and that companies are positioning themselves to benefit when the demand meets to current supply. He says business trips such as this one are perfect opportunities to help offset the state's dependence on the energy sector.
"It provides us with the opportunity to sit down face to face with leaders, CEOs," said Governor Abbott, "and talk very specific about ways in which they can and will create jobs in the state of Texas, what we need to do to bring them there, what we need to do to further diversify our economy."