Said to be one of the most competitive tools Texas has, the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) is used to recruit new businesses and also assist them with expansions within the state. Since TEF's creation in 2003, it has helped close the deal on projects generating more than 49,000 new jobs and $15.5 billion in capital investment.
Another successful economic development program is the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF). This $200 million initiative, created by the Texas legislature in 2005, helps commercialize university research by taking it from the labs to the marketplace. To date, TETF has allocated $86.9 million in funds to Texas companies and universities.
"Texas is honored to be recognized with the Gold Shovel award as a tribute to the hard work of Texas lawmakers and business leaders to build and maintain our strong economy," said Gov. Rick Perry. "Our state's reasonable regulatory environment, low tax burden, and economic development incentives are powerful tools to attract the businesses and jobs that make our state one of the best places in the nation to live and work. Opening doors of opportunity and success to our citizens has been and always will be a priority in Texas."
Here's a closer look at some of the state's biggest new projects: Total Petrochemical's $2.2 billion expansion of its Port Arthur, Jefferson County, refinery, will add a 50,000-barrel-per-day coker, a desulfurization unit, and a vacuum distillation unit. These improvements will increase the refinery's output of ultra-low-sulfur automotive diesel by three million tons, making it more competitive with operations in Venezuela and Canada.
Eastman Chemical Co. is constructing a $1.6 billion gasification plant in Beaumont. The first 10 years of operation will result in almost $700 million in payroll and more than $200 million in annual sales. Incentives included a tax abatement that reduces Eastman Chemical's tax bill for eight years.
Microsoft has finalized the purchase of a 44-acre site in San Antonio for its new 470,000-square-foot data center. The next-generation facility will drive the company's Windows Live initiative. Microsoft expects to invest nearly $1 billion in the project and hire 100 full-time workers.
Small towns are also on big-corporation radar. Take Alvin, for example - located in Brazoria County south of Houston. This community will be the new location for Shintech's $800 million vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plant. Shintech, the largest PVC producer in the world, will build the plant on a 500-acre site in the Chocolate Bayou area and produce 825,000 tons of VCM annually.