America's Top States for Business 2007

America's Top States For Business -- On The Road In Texas

Before we get to today's destination, a quick note about yesterday in our number three state, Utah. I wrote in this space yesterday that we planned to interview both Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., and his father, industrialist Jon Huntsman, Sr. 

The interview with the elder Huntsman was a little bonus on our Top States tour. His company, Huntsman Corp. is the object of a bidding war between Apollo Management and Basell AF. That he would come on and talk to us in the midst of that meant we had a chance to make some news. As the bidding war intensified, I kept expecting him to cancel, and was amazed that he didn't.

At 11:00a ET Wednesday morning, one hour before “Power Lunch”, our luck ran out. I got a very apologetic phone call from Huntsman's executive assistant. Seems Huntsman had figured that it would be a good idea, just before he headed over to our interview, to let the company lawyers know what he was up to. I think you can figure out what happened from there--Too bad, though, and not just because we might have gained some new information on a $10 billion deal.

Jon Huntsman, 70, is a great American success story. A self-made billionaire, he developed the clamshell container for McDonald's Big Mac. Now, he is selling his company in order to devote his life to cancer research. The Huntsman family is not terribly well known outside Utah, but it should be.

Top States for Business

Now, on to our No. 2 state: Texas. This state--specifically, Houston--became my home away from home for four months in 2006. It was the site of the trial of the late Enron founder Ken Lay and former CEO Jeff Skilling.

It's good to be back in a city that has a strange way of growing on you--and good to be back here for this story instead of a white-collar criminal trial.

The economic fates of Texas and the energy industry are inexorably linked. And that industry is part of how Texas gained a reputation for doing everything big.

We're reporting today from a giant Rowan Companies oil rig that will eventually be deployed in the Middle East.

Wherever you fall in the debate about energy, oil prices, climate change and alternative fuel, it would be a good idea to keep that oil rig in mind from now on. Everything about energy production is big. Massive. The technology and investment required to produce even a single gallon of gasoline is one of the reasons the industry seems so slow to change.

Think about that giant oil rig the next time you get impatient with the pace of change in Big Oil. Or the next time you think that all that talk about our addiction to oil is just a bunch of tree-hugging hype.

See you tomorrow from our No 1. state--America's Top State for Business!

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