State Focus: Texas Diversity

Texas is a magnet for business and individuals for a reason—rather, for many reasons, one of which is the tax climate.


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Texas is a magnet for business and individuals for a reason—rather, for many reasons, one of which is the tax climate.
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State Focus: Texas Diversity

State Focus: Texas Diversity

By Dominique Cantelme
From the September/October 2015 Issue

Texas is the second most populous and second largest state in the U.S. as well as the No. 3 tourist destination. It is a magnet for business and individuals for a reason—rather, for many reasons, one of which is the tax climate.

Texas has one of the lowest tax burdens in the country, with no corporate or individual income tax. This helped rank it No. 10 on the Tax Foundation’s 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index. About seven years ago Texas replaced its franchise tax with a margins tax. Among other benefits, the reformed tax sees businesses rewarded for making good business choices such as employing a Texan, paying for health insurance or investing in a pension plan, and penalized for bad business practices—a win-win for business and individuals.

In 2014 Texas led the nation in job creation with 457,900 new jobs added. That same year it was named the No. 1 exporter in the U.S. for the 13th year in a row, exporting $289 billion of goods. And be it passenger or freight, travel can be accomplished through some of the world’s largest airlines at one of Texas’ 380 airports, by sea or via one of America’s longest highway or railway systems, providing 313,210 miles of public roads and 624 miles of coastline. It’s no wonder Texas has the third largest share of domestic travel revenue with $67.5 billion.

Texas also is home to more than 50 Fortune 500 company headquarters that can utilize the state’s civilian labor force of 13 million people. Employers can have their choice of workers who may have graduated from one of Texas’ 140 higher education institutions or benefitted from a $48 million skills development fund. And when it comes to leisure, the Lone Star State offers these hard workers an abundance of activities for their time off. Residents and visitors can spend time at the Grand Opera in Houston, the Alamo in San Antonio, the Museum of Art in Dallas and more than 90 state parks, or see a college or professional football, baseball, basketball or soccer game. Texas also offers 191,000 miles of rivers and streams, 624 miles of coastline and more than 70 working ranches to explore.

The state motto is “friendship” for a reason. Whether a business is just starting out or looking to expand or relocate, Texas has the tools and people that will help make it happen seamlessly. Incentives and financing, location assistance and workforce development are readily available to help welcome new friends or continue benefitting the old.

FROM THE OLD WEST TO A NEW ECONOMY IN THE LONE STAR STATE

Amarillo is one of the last places on earth where the Old West is just minutes away. Situated at the crossroads of America, Amarillo is almost equidistant to both coasts. Centered on the intersection of four major highways, most motorists experience the city simply by driving along Interstate 40, which overlaps the well-known and celebrated historic Route 66 footprint.

Amarillo’s rich history epitomizes the greatness of the West. Once the location of some of the last Native American strongholds, Amarillo flourished as cattlemen and sheepherders from all points of the compass arrived looking for fresh grazing grounds and a place to start a new life. As the railroads stretched across America, Amarillo’s central location contributed to its continued growth from a “Ragtown” tent camp to a bustling city.

Today, Amarillo continues to capitalize on its location and thrives as a growing metro with an economy supported by diverse industries, including heavy manufacturing, aviation and aerospace, transportation and logistics, food technologies, financial services, oil and gas and renewable energy. Bolstered by legendary work ethic and a favorable business environment, Amarillo has become the economic highlight of the High Plains. Nowhere is this successful growth more evident than the CenterPort Business Park located on the eastern edge of Amarillo.

Located in Foreign Trade Zone 252, the CenterPort Business Park is a 440-acre, rail served industrial park ideally suited for distribution-oriented companies and industries with critical logistics needs. Along with Amarillo’s mid-continent location, CenterPort has direct access to Interstate-40 and Interstate-27. Additionally, CenterPort is adjacent to Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, which boasts a 13,500-foot runway. Finally, CenterPort is served by two Burlington Northern Santa Fe mainlines, while Union Pacific also has track rights. Amarillo CenterPort Business Park is owned, controlled and being developed by the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation. Sites are available for projects that fall within the intended use of the overall development and may be provided at no cost or reduced cost depending upon the specifics of the project.

Ben E. Keith Company, CenterPort’s anchor tenant, is a distributor of food service products and premium alcoholic beverages. The company’s foodservice division serves eleven states, while the beverage division provides products to 61 Texas counties. From their Amarillo center, Ben E. Keith is able to keep supply chain costs manageable by efficiently receiving and shipping products to over 2,000 customers in a five-state area, which provides a great benefit to their customers, thanks to the accesses provided by the CenterPort facility.

In 2015, Gestamp Renewable Industries announced that they had selected Amarillo’s CenterPort facility as their U.S. site to manufacture wind towers to serve the U.S. wind industry. By selecting Amarillo as the host city to this new 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, Gestamp will have excellent access to service and provide end products to its clients located throughout America’s wind corridor by utilizing the interstate and rail assets available at their planned CenterPort facility.

The successful growth of Amarillo isn’t just a matter of location, location, location. The interstate, airport and rail access are key components of the city’s economic success but they aren’t the only assets. With no personal, state or corporate income tax, Amarillo also boasts a pro-business environment supported at the local and state levels. Amarillo is home to some of the most hard-working and productive employees in the state and nation, with the skill set to match. The community continues to grow and exhibit one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation while having a high number of employees that are considered “under-employed.” Employers can operate virtually union-free in Amarillo, and the Amarillo EDC can assist with specific training programs in partnership with area educational institutions for qualified companies.

If you haven’t already visited Amarillo, you’re invited to come by car, by plane, by bus or train to see all they have to offer you and your business. You’ll surely see why so many companies have chosen to grow with this community. For more information, visit www.amarilloedc.com.

ENTREPRENEURS ARE WELCOME IN MARBLE FALLS, TEXAS

If your ideal business location is a thriving, independent community without the hassle of a big city, then look no further than Marble Falls. In spite of easy access to two of Texas’ largest cities, Austin and San Antonio, Marble Falls is neither a suburb nor a bedroom community. The pace may be more relaxed—locals call it “lake time”—but Marble Falls never suffers from a lack of energy.

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The new Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Marble Falls opened in August. (Credit: Marble Falls Economic Development Corp.)

Art lovers will find inspiration with multiple galleries and art studios, as well as Sculpture on Main, a public exhibit of large-scale works from around the world. Outdoor enthusiasts will find vitality with the abundance of recreational opportunities in the Highland Lakes region, from hiking and biking, to camping and spelunking, to an off-road adventure park, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. Animal enthusiasts will find plenty of wildlife roaming freely with a variety of locations to observe the creatures in a natural setting, from a local wildlife refuge to the nearby state parks. Foodies will find satisfaction with dining options ranging from upscale to down-home, from “Rib Friday” to Pie Happy Hour (and even food trailers); beverage connoisseurs will find refreshment with locally made craft beers and award-winning wine from the Hill Country region. Parents will find an environment that is wonderful for raising a family, with safe neighborhoods, reasonable housing costs, an acclaimed ISD and options for private schooling. There are higher education opportunities in Marble Falls as well; in Gateway Park, atop a hill overlooking the lake, is the Frank Fickett Center that houses Texas Tech University and Central Texas College with a range of degree programs.

Recent developments in Marble Falls include the opening of its first hospital, which is located on the south side of town at the intersection of US Highway 281 and State Highway 71. The Baylor Scott & White Medical Center—Marble Falls opened its doors to the public in August and already has been a game-changer for the community. In the hospital’s first month of operation, 30 babies were delivered and nearly 900 total patients were seen. Specialty services available include primary care, cardiology, general surgery, orthopedics, podiatry, ophthalmology, gastroenterology and pain management. Total employment at the medical center will soon top 500 workers.

Also currently underway are several retail openings and expansions, robust activity in the healthcare office market and a couple of multifamily projects. Over the past few years, Marble Falls has shown very steady growth in taxable sales, building activity and hotel receipts.

There currently is a wealth of talent, resources and opportunity in Marble Falls, but there is always room for more. Because the community strives to achieve the proper balance between embracing its heritage, maintaining its charm and welcoming innovation, entrepreneurs should find a comfortable, supportive home for taking reasonable risks, making discoveries and fulfilling their potential.

So, whether your business expansion leads to a destination in the historic downtown district, a spot in the newly-expanded Business and Technology Park or onto the campus of the Baylor Scott and White regional medical center that opened in August, you are invited to become a part of the momentum in Marble Falls.

SAN ANTONIO: A RICH HISTORY AND A WEALTH OF OPPORTUNITIES

Home of the historic Alamo and rich Texas history, San Antonio has achieved staying power as one of the most attractive environments for business in the United States because of the wealth of opportunities throughout the area such as an educated workforce and a business friendly climate. San Antonio cultivates a business environment by:

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University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, South Texas Research Facility. (Credit: rvapc.com)

Making historic investments in infrastructure, while remaining one of the more fiscally strong cities of its size in the U.S.; securing voter approval in two bond elections for over $1 billion in investments in infrastructure, roads, libraries and fire between 2010 and 2020; and keeping property taxes low for its citizens. San Antonio was among very few cities in the U.S. that lowered property taxes in 2009.

San Antonio is dedicated to sustaining its major industries, including:

Healthcare and Bioscience. San Antonio is a city of bioscience and health. One out of every six San Antonians is employed in the industry. Local operations represent nationally recognized healthcare facilities, cutting-edge biotech companies, and well-respected global enterprises like Medtronic and Becton Dickinson.

The South Texas Medical Center is the center of an industry that produced more than $29 billion in regional economic impact in 2011 and added more than 40,000 over the last decade. Development of new hospitals, offices, and research facilities will create more than $1 billion in local investment through 2015. Additionally, all medical education and training for the U.S. military occurs in San Antonio. The city is also home to the only Department of Defense Burn Center, two Level 1 trauma centers, and the only Pediatric Trauma Center in South Texas. Combined with the medical students at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the region experiences a constant influx of talent and innovative thinking.

BioMed SA is coordinating the city’s strong push to grow the local industry and turn innovative thinking into viable companies. Globally minded startups like Xenex and Canadian medical device company Innovative Trauma Care have noticed and have chosen to make San Antonio their base of operations.

Aerospace. San Antonio is an industry leader in the aerospace industry with significant expertise in maintenance, repair and overhaul and aerospace research, engineering and testing.

San Antonio’s long-standing aerospace tradition began in 1917 when the US Army Air Corps established Kelly Field as a pilot training site during World War I. Since then, San Antonio has helped train NASA’s astronauts and Felix Baumgartner’s historic stratosphere jump in October 2012. Today, San Antonio is home to several leading aerospace companies including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Standard Aero and Chromalloy. Boeing, an anchor tenant at Port San Antonio, recently announced it will hire approximately 800 new employees at its local facility to handle upgrades on its 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 models.

The aerospace industry provides a $5.4 billion industry impact, employs more than 13,000 workers and provides an average wage of $58,729 per year.

To meet the demands of the aerospace industry, the Alamo Colleges’ Aerospace Academy provides training and education specifically focused on the needs of the aerospace industry. The Academy operates in close cooperation with industry and has created just in time training pipelines with local firms. For more information, visit www.alamo.edu.

Information Technology and Cybersecurity. San Antonio’s open environment attracts bright minds who want to explore ideas in entrepreneurship and technology, develop their talents, and connect to a community of like-minded people. The local IT sector reflects that through its unique emphasis on the complementary pair of Cloud Computing and Cybersecurity.

Local companies have helped pioneer cloud computing with a mindset that reflects the city’s penchant for open collaboration. Local incubators like Geekdom and TechStars Cloud are working with San Antonio’s young and driven IT startups to share ideas, winning business practices, and foster a culture of rewarding entrepreneurship.

The city’s association with the military and with scientific research has helped create a unique combination of resources that includes the second largest concentration of cybersecurity professionals in the U.S and 3 National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Security. Local cybersecurity experts are engaged at places like the National Security Agency’s Texas Cryptology Center and U.S. 24th Air Force Cyber Command, which together employ more than 3,000 workers.

Renewable Energy. San Antonio’s youngest cluster is already positioning itself as an important local player and a magnet for global companies.

In 2010, the City adopted its Mission Verde (Mission Green) initiative to transform the city’s energy practices and make it a hub for sustainable technology and green jobs.

The City is aggressively committed to constructing of the region’s green credentials. In 2011, city-owned utility CPS Energy made a commitment to add 1,500 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2020. As a result of that commitment, it brokered a deal to construct not only the world’s largest solar installation, but also manufacturing facilities, education programs, and R&D activities that will make the city a hub of renewable production and research in North America. Companies from Europe and Asia have already lined up to become part of the local supply chain, bringing jobs, investment, and global expertise. Education programs and research at Alamo Colleges, UTSA, and other local schools are developing the workforce needed by companies at the forefront of the industry.

San Antonio is accessible between the east and west coasts and the Gulf of Mexico; which makes it a prime destination for expansion, relocation or a new business startup. Some of its strategic geographic assets include: Port San Antonio, Joint Base San Antonio and Brooks City Base.

For the last three years, San Antonio was the only U.S. city with more than 1 million people to receive a AAA General Obligation Bond rating by the three leading financial rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, and Moody’s.

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