The emergence of Rick Perry as a credible candidate to be the Republican nominee for president has provoked a burst of interest in “the Texas model.”

Between the low in 2003 to the peak in 2007, total nonfarm employment in the U.S. grew by about 6 percent. From 2007 through 2010, that figure fell about 6 percent, leaving a net gain over the period of basically zero.

In Texas, pre-recession job growth was 11 percent and losses during the recession have been about 1 percent, leaving a net gain of approximately 10 percent, nearly 1 million new jobs.

This track record has enabled the Texas governor to claim that his policies of low taxes and streamlined regulations applied to the nation as a whole make him the candidate the country needs. These facts make a pretty good platform, but if his claim is true, why haven’t all businesses packed up all their idle cash and headed for the Lone Star State?

The answer, of course, (besides the boost provided by a vast pool of low-wage workers, enormous military contracts, a booming oil and gas industry and a world-class research university) is that taxes and regulations are not the only determinants of business location.

Businesses, after all, are run by people. And lots of people like where they live now, and, given their druthers, would prefer to stay put.

This is not to say that taxes and regulation are not important — Maine desperately needs serious, systematic and comprehensive tax reform and to take a careful look at the effects of current regulations. It is to say that taxes and regulation are not determining factors. In a world increasingly open to locational choice — both for businesses and for workers — quality of life is an important factor.

Quality of life has long been an appealing idea for Maine — the way life should be and all that. Some say that such romantic wishful thinking is merely a diversion from the cold, hard economic facts. But important economic facts are not just cold and hard.

An executive at one of the semiconductor manufacturers in South Portland once told me that the first question asked by new engineers assigned to the plant from away is always, “Where are the best schools?” An industrial location consultant told me that one of the questions he is frequently asked is, “Where is the nearest hospital, and how good is it?”

These and other comments I have heard over the years tell me that businesses looking to expand consider not just the lowest costs (though these are important) but the overall quality of the community, the standard of living — meaning both the hard facts like median income and temperature levels and the less easily measured qualities such as general openness and opportunities for civic engagement.

Two facts recently jumped out at me signaling Maine’s attractiveness in this regard. The first was the news that Sports Business Daily recently ranked Maine as the fifth-best minor league market in the nation. The other is the finding from the New England Foundation for the Arts CultureCount database that Maine has more nonprofit arts and cultural organizations per 100,000 population than any other New England state except Vermont.

Whether it’s eating a hot dog and watching a Sea Dogs game or enjoying a bean supper for the local library or historic society, Maine has lots of ways to be engaged in community, to live a good life outside of work.

However much we may be part of Red Sox nation and however lifelike Paul Pierce may appear on a big-screen TV, these virtual experiences can’t compare with cheering the Red Claws shoulder to shoulder with 3,000 other fans in a packed gym.

Attending a blockbuster showing of Monet at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is fine if you can endure the traffic, but sailing Passamaquoddy Bay, then stepping off your boat into a 19th-century seaport to view the works of 40 artists from Maine and New Brunswick in a beautifully restored historic brick building is a rare experience.

Yes, Texas may have created more jobs over the last decade, but when you leave work, would you rather step into a landscape by John Marin or a novel by Cormac McCarthy?

Charles Lawton is senior economist for Planning Decisions, a public policy research firm. He can be reached at:

[email protected]