Houston, Aug 13: Texas Governor Gregg Abbott pitched for stronger ties between India and Texas in key sectors such as energy, technology and agriculture saying it is critical for building a bright future. Governor Abbott said that Texas and India aligning economically will be enormously beneficial for both. At the 19th annual gala of the Indo-American Chamber of Greater Houston (IACCGH) on Saturday, Abbott in his keynote address pitched in for the same.

He added that by working together, one can continue to expand economic opportunity and ensure that Texas remains the best place to find a job, start a business and raise a family. Texas, the second largest exporter of goods to India and the fourth largest importer of Indian goods, has become a premier destination for global investment, he said.

“For 19 years, the IACCGH has helped the small business community thrive in Houston and inspired the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, all while fostering stronger ties between Texas and India. Through our continued relationship with the Chamber, the partnership between Texas and India will grow even stronger,” Abbott said.

He further said, “Our shared values like family, faith, commitment to community, entrepreneurship and hard work transcend cultures. It’s those values that make Texas, India and the Indian-American community such natural partners. And by building on this foundation, we can continue to deepen our partnership both culturally and in terms of economic development.”

Highlighting his nine-day India trip to promote Texas as the premier destination for investment, he said that he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and left with more optimism that Texas-India partnership has no limits. He also thanked Mahindra for setting up Mahindra’s North American headquarters in Texas and donating USD 1.5 million for Hurricane Harvey relief last year.

Jindal Steel Works has announced plans to invest USD 500 million into expanding their steel manufacturing in Baytown, Texas, that will garner employment to 500 more Texans. Wipro Limited will set up a new Texas Technology Center in Plano. “I hope JSW will supply all the steel that is needed for the petroleum industry in Texas,” the Abbott said.

Appreciating the IACCGH and Indian-Americans, Abbott said that “working together, we can continue to expand economic opportunity and we want you to succeed, we need you to succeed because when you succeed, Texas succeeds”.

The growth of Texas-India ties was on the agenda at the aptly themed gala ‘Think India, Think Texas, Leverage Houston’ as several Indian companies like Mahindra, JSW, Wipro, Reliance are fast expanding their operations in North America.

“Houston is attracting Indian talent and investments at a rapid pace. The Indian community has also blended extremely well with the rest of the residents and its massive participation in relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey hit the area last year was a demonstration of this,” said Anupam Ray, Consul General of India in Houston. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced his business delegation trip to India in October.

“Trade between Houston and India is now worth USD 8.5 billion and we want to grow it more. We want to make Houston a diverse and inclusive global community that will serve as a shining example for any other city in the US,” he said.

“In 1999, several years after liberalisation, India was still not being taken seriously by business leaders and politicians. That is when we started the IACCGH, with the active support of the Indian Consulate, a partnership that has only grown,” said Jagdip Ahluwalia, IACCGH executive director.

The IACCGH awards were presented by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Ray. Over 700 guests celebrated the gala with sumptuous food, entertainment and the new addition of this gala was “The Texas Song” sung by High School senior Ishya Kachru amidst thunderous applause. Indian and American National Anthems were also played at the event.

Indian-American Aruna Vishwanathan and two American women – Carlecia Wright and Jewel Smith – were awarded ‘Women in Business: Making a Difference Award’. Viswanathan is the Chief Operating Manager at Alphax Decision Sciences, a company that develops enterprise scale predictive, prescriptive artificial intelligence software and cloud infrastructure solutions.

Entrepreneur of the year award was presented to Chitranjan ‘Aku’ Patel, who is a philanthropist and the owner of a leading jewellery store in Houston. Technology giant Wipro was given the Inbound Investment award for its efforts in promoting economic growth in the Greater Houston region.

The IACCGH is a major driver in inbound and outbound business delegations to India that helps in expanding markets, product lines and diversification for businesses. The event supports the Chamber’s activities of promoting business growth, the creation of jobs in Houston and facilitating bilateral trade between Houston and India.

With inputs from PTI.