THE BLOG
07/11/2014 12:10 pm ET Updated Sep 10, 2014

America's Lands of Opportunity

Each day, 110 new residents call Austin, Texas, home.

It's no secret that Austin has become one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the U.S. -- the city boasted 50,000 technology jobs in 2012 -- but it's also attracting entrepreneurs and young people in many other fields.

The people flocking to Austin -- and cities like it -- ultimately are answering a simple question: Where will it be easiest to live my life and pursue my dreams the way I want to?

For more and more Americans, the answer to that question is in the heart of Texas. Austin's population explosion has been made possible by a state government that promotes innovation instead of regulation, a community that engenders a culture of fresh ideas and a cost of living that can't be found in most other major U.S. cities. Texas has no personal or corporate income tax, and doesn't bog down entrepreneurs and small businesses with excessive red tape.

That's what drew Chicago native Sara Travis, one of the young innovators who fled to Austin to pursue her dreams.

Sara never thought she'd end up in Texas. When she decided to build her own business, Sara knew that she'd get her start in her hometown.

She founded The Brew Hub, a mobile coffee-vending business that sells iced coffees and teas, in 2013. For more than a year, Sara petitioned the city of Chicago to give her a permit so she could legally operate her popular business throughout Chicago neighborhoods.

But city bureaucrats just took her in circles, and eventually Sara had to make a tough decision: continue operating illegally without hopes of legitimately growing The Brew Hub, or move.

In 2014, she and her business shipped off to Austin.

"In Austin, I was sitting in a little room filling out paperwork -- we filled it all out, turned it in, gave them some money and we had a permit," she said.

"We can always come home to Chicago, and that's something we want to pursue, but Texas is ready for us."

Sara was fed up with over-regulation, a lack of government transparency and unwelcoming city officials in Chicago -- but setting up shop was much smoother down South.

Sara isn't alone.

Chicago's population has dropped to 1920s levels. Illinois loses one person every 10 minutes to net out-migration, and that's a direct result of the state's unwelcoming approach to people like Sara who want to start a business and make a living.

Austin's lure is similar to the appeal that our country still clings to on a global scale -- a place where you can be free to pursue your ambitions.

Other states hold variations of that same promise, and are drawing in new residents in droves with low costs of living and professional opportunity.

Florida has grown to a population of 19.5 million in 2013 from 16 million in 2010, a jump of 22 percent. Florida recently became the second-most populous state in the U.S., according to Travis Brown, entrepreneur and author of "How Money Walks."

And it's not just retirees setting down roots in Florida. Residents age 65 and older make up only 18.7 percent of the state's population.

Florida boasts the fourth-largest economy in the country and the 21st-largest economy in the world. The state has the second-largest aviation and aerospace industry in the nation, employing more than 80,000 workers. It also has a significant manufacturing base, with more than 316,000 workers in companies such as Coca-Cola and Hitatchi Cable.

Florida has gained $86 billion in adjusted gross income from other states such as New York ($16.8 billion), New Jersey ($10.2 billion) and Illinois ($6.2 billion), Brown said.

Florida's boom in population and income, like Texas', is no coincidence. The state doesn't tax personal income, has a low corporate income tax rate and consistently ranks among the best states in which to do business.

"Florida has cut a record number of regulations and taxes impacting small business with Gov. Rick Scott," Brown said.

Like Florida, Tennessee is another state that offers low taxation and regulation, and is seeing a boom in population as a result.

Tennessee was recently named the third-best state in the country to do business, and was recognized as the top state in the country by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce when it comes to low levels of taxation and regulation.

The Volunteer State has grown to 6.5 million people in 2013, up from 5.7 million in 2010.

That's also due in large part to the state's affordability. Tennessee has the second-lowest cost of living in the United States, bolstered by its lack of a personal income tax.

People respond to policies, regardless of whether they're small business owners trying to get a start or a low-income worker looking for the best place to take the first step in advancing his or her career. When states cut red tape and ease tax burdens, they create economic opportunity.

As Texas, Florida and Tennessee have all proven in recent years, if you build it, they will come.