COMMITTEE CONSIDERS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN TEXAS
The Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Technologies and Economic Development heard testimony today regarding two state funds for bringing new companies to Texas and for nurturing the high-tech companies that are already here.
The Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) was established by legislation in the 78th Legislature, with an initial appropriation of $295 million, and a further appropriation of $180 million in during the 79th Legislature. Money from this fund can be used for infrastructure development, worker training, business incentives, and other incentives to make Texas more attractive to out-of-state companies.
Aaron Demerson, Director of Economic Development and Tourism for the Governor's office, testified that the TEF has used $316 million since its inception, which will translate to 43,000 new jobs and $9.4 billion in capital investment over the next ten years. In order to use funds from the TEF, the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House must unanimously agree to make any appropriations.
Another key economic development fund, the Texas Emerging Technologies Fund (TETF) was created with a $200 million dollar appropriation in the 79th Legislature. Its goal, characterized by TETF Advisory Board Chairman David Spencer, is to grow high-tech businesses already in Texas, contrasting with the mandate of the TEF to 'hunt' for new industries to bring to the state.
TETF brings together private industry, state universities, and state government to help develop Texas' high-tech industry. TETF has spent $17 million in its first year, with $13 million going to emerging technology businesses, and almost $4.5 million to state research universities.
Spencer said that it is necessary to continue to fund emerging technology in Texas to create new jobs and new revenue in the state in the face of a changing industry market. "If we can build a lasting, systemic infrastructure around the state," he said, "where each region can not just hunt the big animals, but plant seeds that turn into viable, fast-growing companies with high-paying jobs, that's the real gift the TETF brings to the state."