Small Businesses in Texas are Big Players

Texas small business, population 386,000, is big and getting bigger.

On Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 23:45

There’s nothing small time about Texas small business.

Texas Emerging Technology Fund

The Lone Star State has made entrepreneurship a priority, equipping startups with both financial support and technical assistance. In 2005, the state rolled out the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, which has invested more than $234 million with the intention of ushering new technology to the marketplace and creating high-skill jobs.

“TETF is a very competitive, highly sought-after investment fund that basically bridges the gap between tech start-ups and companies that are already in their growth stage,” says Jose Luque, president and CEO of the Austin-based identification technology company, Merkatum, which received a $1 million TETF investment. “This process has been of tremendous value to us,” he says, “not only because of the capital, which has helped us accelerate our growth process, but because the strategic involvement with our investor, TETF, has been very proactive and very positive.”

Other Business Success Stories Include:

WHAM!, a Collin County company, received a $1 million investment for its next generation video applications, which enable high definition consumer video calling. • Mayan Pigments, in El Paso, received a $250,000 TETF investment in 2008. The company is commercializing an eco-friendly manufacturing process and resulting pigments that are not heavy metal-based. • StarVision Technologies Inc., in College Station, develops intelligent optical-based guidance, navigation and surveillance systems.

The company’s SpeedStar product will give domestic aerospace contractors, such as the military and NASA, a way to reduce their dependency on foreign made guidance and navigation products.

Falcon International, in Odessa, received an $850,000 TETF investment. The company produces armor plating for Humvees and other military equipment. Texas’ hands-on approach to small business is generating results. Roughly 386,000 Texas companies, or 98.7 percent of the state’s employers, are classified as small businesses. Texas was second on the 2009 Inc. 500 list for number of fastest-growing private companies. Nearly half of all new jobs in Texas from 2004 to 2005 were created by small companies.

Texas Taxes, Location and Work Make for Productive Business Climate

Small enterprises find a welcoming environment in Texas, not only because of the assistance they receive from the state, but also because of the overall favorable business climate. A wealth of educational resources, an emphasis on fair tax treatment and a strategic location contribute to a climate that nurtures growth.

“It is very compelling to be here, because, not only do we have the technology sector, which is very strong and growing in entrepreneurial initiatives, but we have the government sector and the academic sector that feed on each other and help companies like ours really to generate value,” Luque says. “We must also remember that Texas lies on the border with Mexico, and it’s a great gateway between both countries and Latin America to do business.” T

he network of universities sprawling across the state is a key asset for many research-based businesses. StarVision, a high performance products manufacturer that serves the aerospace and intelligence industries, works closely with Texas A&M University, even counting former faculty members among its staff. Michael Jacox, StarVision president, says the company’s relationship with Texas A&M is the most important factor in its Texas location.

“The advantage to us is that Texas A&M has one of the top aerospace programs in the country, and because of that, we can collaborate with the faculty there and leverage the national recognition that they have to create this company and license key technology,” Jacox says. “We’ve got access to an excellent workforce.”

The company, which was founded in 2003 and now employs 15 staff members, received a TETF investment of $750,000 in 2007. “We also were able to use that as leverage on getting additional contracts from sources outside the state,” Jacox says. “That kind of foresight, in terms of setting aside those dollars, has been unique in Texas.”