State of the State 2009 Header

Economic Development

Economic Development

Texas has a strong economy. Numerous accolades tout Texas as the “Best State for Business” and the state best suited to weather the financial turmoil. Our low taxes and predictable regulatory climate attract businesses to Texas, bringing significant capital investment along with new jobs. As we prepare for an economic downturn and its impact on our citizens, all tools to continue our growth should be considered, including implementing additional sales tax holidays.

Texas Enterprise Fund

The Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) is one of the state’s biggest success stories. Since its inception in 2003, the state has closed deals on projects in urban and rural communities across the state, generating over 53,800 jobs and $14 billion in capital investment with $377 million in grants. The TEF gives Texas the competitive edge in attracting new business to the state or assisting existing businesses with substantial expansion.

I recommend $260 million for the Texas Enterprise Fund for the 2010-11 biennium.

Emerging Technology Fund

The Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) brings new ideas and products to the marketplace by supporting innovation and commercialization that will have a long-term profound impact on Texas and enhance the state’s global competitiveness. ETF grants are awarded in three areas, all of which are a collaborative effort with institutions of higher education:

  • Research Superiority Acquisition Awards provide funds for Texas higher education institutions to recruit the best research talent in the world.
  • Commercialization Awards assist companies taking ideas from concept to development to the marketplace.
  • Matching Awards support the creation of public-private partnerships to leverage the unique strengths of universities, federal government grant programs, and industry.

Since it was formed in 2005, the ETF has invested approximately $53 million in 54 early-stage companies, and another 34 early-stage companies are currently moving through the approval process for an additional state investment of $40 million. The ETF has been recognized nationally as the most active early-stage technology venture fund in the country.

In addition to investing in early-stage companies, the ETF has also invested in new commercialization research programs at 16 universities throughout the state, and attracted more than 45 world-class researchers. These programs will compound the investment by developing new technological and scientific discoveries which can be commercialized in the future.

I recommend $203.5 million for the Emerging Technology Fund for the 2010-11 biennium.

Film Incentives

In fiscal year 2008, the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program had a combined economic impact to the state of $102.4 million through five segments of the industry: feature films, television, commercials, sports, and video games. By comparison, in 2008, New Mexico’s feature film and television productions brought its state $242 million, and in 2007, Louisiana’s film and television production generated its economy an estimated $350 million.

I recommend increasing the Texas Film Incentive Program to $60 million for the 2010-11 biennium.

Skills Development Fund

This Skills Development Fund, managed by the Texas Workforce Commission, provides grants for partnerships between public community or technical colleges and employers to provide customized job training in targeted industries and specialized occupations. Employers and employees benefit from custom-training to better support industry demand.

I recommend increasing the Skills Development Fund program to $60 million for the 2010-11 biennium.