Friday, February 7, 2014

Texas Economy Remains Better Than Nation's

Several business and economic releases indicate more growth potential for Texans.

The US Bureau of Labor statistics released another report filled with mixed news. The U3 unemployment rate ticked down to 6.6% and the participation rate increased slightly. However, only 113k new jobs were created, far short of the monthly average required to recover the proportionate number of jobs required to cover the gap created by the 2008-09 recession.

Contrasting the luke-warm national report, Texas is growing economically. For the 12th consecutive year, Texas is ranked the top state for exports (source: US Census Bureau).

(Origin of Movement)

Top 2012 to 2013 Increases
(Millions of Dollars)

State 2012 Total 2013 Total Change
Texas $265,352.0 $279,694.9 $14,342.9
California 161,699.6 168,128.4 6,428.8
Washington 75,524.5 81,938.7 6,414.2
New York 79,188.9 83,994.8 4,805.9
Kentucky 22,092.3 25,285.5 3,193.2

Upon receiving the Census Bureau report, Gov. Rick Perry issued the following remarks:

"Texas continues to set a national example for economic success because of our commitment to the conservative fiscal principles that allow businesses to thrive. The Texas model of low taxes, smart regulations and fair courts continues to drive the state's economy, attracting businesses from around the world and helping the state remain the national epicenter for international trade for 12 consecutive years."

Other Texas Economic News

Texas presents TEFT Grant to DARPA Competitor

The Texas state government announced it has given a $1.5 million Texas Emerging Technologies Fund (TEFT) grant to a joint University of Texas (UT) and Texas A&M University (TAMU) robotics team. The UT and TAMU students belong to Team Valkerie, who designed the R5 robot.

The robot has advanced in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's robotics chalenge competition. The challenge is to design a robot capable of traversing varying terrains and accomplish several tasks considered vital in a variety of scenarios from humanitarian and disaster relief to survival in case of a major nuclear event.

Challenge winners, to be announced in 2015, will win a $2million federal DARPA grant.

DARPA is part of the US Dept. of Defense and operates under the federal defense budget. The US Constitution mandates congress to budget and allocate federal funds for national defense. They are also mandated to govern rules for the issuance of patents and copyrights to protect intellectual properties such as inventions. In addition, the Constitution allows congress to allocate funds to support scientific research and development. Through this competition, DARPA legally fulfills all three.

Concerning the TEFT grant to Team Valkerie, Gov. Perry remarked:

"Texas is home to world-class universities that continue to advance exciting new technologies and groundbreaking research. This investment has the potential to save lives through innovation in robotic technology that could assist in disaster responses around the world."

UT team members were tasked with body control design and software while TAMU team members are responsible for designing software to enable bipedal movement over varying rough terrain conditions.

 Latest TEF Grants Create 615 Jobs

Texas also announced two new Texas Enterprise Fund grants that are expected to generate as many as 615 new jobs, combined.

The grants are going to two digital information technology companies.

Websense is relocating its headquarters from California to Austin, TX. The move will bring over 400 new jobs to Texas and generate over $9million in new capital. Texas is presenting Websense a $4.5million grant to sweeten the deal and facilitate the move to Texas.

Websense produces software and digital information security products. Their products are used by private individuals, businesses, corporations, and government entities. They protect data and systems from cyber-attacks, hacking, and help mitigate accidental "spillage".

Websense CEO John McCormack stated:

"We are expanding our presence into Austin because it represents an energetic, high-technology hub that will further enable us to meet growing demand for our technology and better serve our global customer base.  Our top priority continues to be exceeding customer expectations and protecting organizations from data theft and advanced cyberattacks."

Dropbox, Inc. is expanding its operations in Austin, TX. The increase will generate at least 170 new jobs and $5.5million in new capital. They are tapped to receive a $1.5million TEF grant to assist in the expansion.

For those unfamiliar with Dropbox, they provide digital cloud storage and transfer services. Private individuals use home versions to store data in a cloud for access from multiple devices or locations. Businesses utilize their various business versions of their products to enable off-site storage and access. Both versions of the software allow data to be shared at various levels of access from "read only" to full access. These services enhance production and accessibility in a secure manner for their customers.

Dropbox vice president of business Sujay Jaswa released the following comments:

"We were drawn to Austin because of the talented people and vibrant tech culture, and we're thankful to the Governor's Office for their support as we grow our presence in the area. Our Austin team is excited to build deep Dropbox roots here as we focus upon supporting our business customers and our 200 million users."

On the subject of these two most recent TEF grant announcements, Gov. Perry released the following:

"Texas is the nation's leading example of creating an environment that allows job growth to flourish, innovations to thrive and families and employers to succeed. Paired with our low taxes, smart regulations and fair courts, these TEF investments will help bring hundreds of jobs to Austin, and thanks to our world-class workforce, these employers know Texans are prepared to take on the diverse needs any company may have."