A range of local and state incentives are available to qualifying companies in the Houston area to support new, expanding and relocating companies.
State of Texas Incentives
•The Texas Enterprise Fund was established to provide financial resources to help strengthen the state’s economy. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House must unanimously agree to support the use of the Texas Enterprise Fund for each specific project. Projects that are considered must demonstrate a project’s worthiness, maximize the benefit to the State of Texas and realize a significant rate of return of the public dollars being used for the project. Significant job creation and capital investment, above average wages generated, financial strength of the applicant, applicant’s business history, analysis of the relevant business sector, and financial support from the local community and private sector will all be significant factors in approving the use of the Enterprise Fund.
•The Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) was created to provide Texas with an unparalleled advantage in the research, development and commercialization of emerging technologies. The program works through partnerships between the state, institutions of higher education and private industry and is dedicated to three areas: Regional Centers of Innovation and Commercialization; matching grant funds for R&D projects that accelerate commercialization and that have demonstrated an ability to receive or have received federal grants or non-state grants; and assisting Texas public universities in attracting highly renowned research teams from universities and institutions in other states.
•The Skills Development Fund was created to train employees through customized job training programs provided by the state’s community colleges. This fund is administered by the Texas Workforce Commission, is application driven and competitively based. The grants are provided to community colleges and technical schools as part of a partnership with companies and labor unions to provide training not currently available in the region. Average training grants per trainee are $1,000.
•The Texas Enterprise Zone Program allows local communities to partner with the State of Texas to promote job creation and capital investment in economically distressed areas. Companies may qualify for refunds of state sales tax paid on eligible items used at the qualified business site. The total amount of any refund is predicated on the investment amount and number of jobs created/retained at the qualified business site. In order to qualify, companies must commit that at least 25% of their new employees will meet economically disadvantaged or enterprise zone residence requirements – if the company is locating or expanding into one of the state’s Enterprise Zones. If the company is not locating into one of the Enterprise Zones, then they must commit that at least 35% of their new employees will meet economically disadvantaged or enterprise zone residence requirements.
•Machinery and equipment that is used in the manufacturing, processing, fabricating or repairing of tangible personal property for ultimate sale, are exempt from state and local sales tax. This Manufacturing Sales Tax Exemption is also applicable for natural gas and electricity consumed by companies that use more than 50 percent of their utilities in the manufacturing, processing or fabricating of products for resale.
•Tax-Exempt Industrial Revenue Bonds are designed to provide tax-exempt financing to finance land and depreciable property for eligible industrial or manufacturing projects. The maximum bond amount is $20 million (which can include certain capital and administrative costs). These bond issues must receive a reservation under the State’s volume limitation (“volume cap”) managed by the Texas Bond Review Board.
•The Texas Product Development Fund provides financing to aid in the development, production and commercialization of new or improved products within the state. Products appropriate for the fund are inventions, devices, techniques or processes that have advanced beyond the theoretical stage and are ready for immediate commercial application. Preference for funding will be given to the state’s defined industry clusters within emerging technology fields, including: semiconductors; nanotechnology; biotechnology and biomedicine; renewable energy; agriculture and aerospace. Businesses with unencumbered assets that are available to collateralize loans are suited for further consideration of this fund.
•The Texas Small Business Fund provides financing to foster and stimulate the development of small and medium sized businesses in Texas. Special funding preferences will be given to emerging technologies including: semiconductors, nanotechnology, biotechnology and biomedicine, renewable energy and aerospace. Additional preference will apply to applicants that have acquired other sources of financing, have formed companies in Texas and are receiving assistance from designated state small business development centers or through the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR).
•Pollution Control Property Tax Abatements are available to companies with facilities, devices and equipment used to control air, water or land pollution. Companies wishing to apply for tax relief for their efforts in controlling pollution can apply for a tax credit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
•The Texas Economic Development Act is a mechanism for school districts to offer temporary property tax limits to companies undertaking a large-scale capital investment project in the community. Under current law, only the following project categories are eligible: manufacturing; research and development; clean coal projects; advanced clean energy projects; renewable energy electric generation; and nuclear electric power generation.
•Inventory that has been detained in the state for 175 days or less for the purpose of assembly, storage, manufacturing, processing or fabricating may be eligible for Freeport Tax Exemption. Freeport eligible inventory includes goods, wares, merchandise, ores, and certain aircraft and aircraft parts. Taxing jurisdictions in the state of Texas may choose to exempt eligible inventory from the ad valorem property tax. The City of Houston, Montgomery County and several school districts in the region offer this exemption.
•Property Tax Abatements are available from some of the cities and counties in the region. A property tax abatement can reduce the total tax liability of a company for up to 10 years. A minimum investment of $1 million in abatable real property and the creation of 25 new jobs is required to be eligible for a tax abatement by the City of Houston and Harris County.
•The City of Houston Brownfield Redevelopment Program functions to facilitate the identification, assessment, cleanup and re-use of environmentally contaminated properties within the City of Houston. The program focuses on projects that result in urban revitalization by restoring environmentally contaminated land and generating new employment opportunities to benefit the local community. Currently, the program has 30 sites enrolled, 14 projects have been completed and 16 sites are in various stages of development.
•Locating in Houston’s Foreign Trade Zone allows companies dealing in foreign trade to delay payment of U.S. Custom’s import duties until their goods and merchandise actually enter U.S. commerce. Foreign trade zones (FTZs) are sites in or near a U.S. Customs port of entry where import and export merchandise is generally considered to be in international trade. Goods can be brought into a zone without formal Customs entry or without incurring Customs duties or excise taxes unless and until they are imported into the United States.
•The Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) was designed to help small manufacturing companies remain competitive in the ever changing global marketplace. The TMAC Center provides technical assistance at a discounted rate for process improvements, environmental regulations upgrades, changes in the technology and the marketplace.
Houston Angel Network
There are many organizations and firms active in early-stage financing, including the Houston Angel Network.
•The Houston Angel Network is a non-profit organization that provides its members a forum in which to efficiently evaluate promising early-stage investment opportunities.
•Its membership consists of active and SEC-accredited angel investors who share the goal of making informed, collaborative investments in promising early stage Texas-based companies.
•HAN was founded in late 2001 and is the largest and most active angel network in Texas: Since inception, the members have invested more than $27 million in 54 deals.
Venture Capital Firms
There are a number of venture capital firms active in Houston.
Venture Capital Firms
DFJ Mercury1 Greenway Plaza, Suite 860, Houston, TX 77046713-715-6820
Essex Woodlands Health Ventures21 Waterway Ave, Suite 225,
The Woodlands, TX 77380281-364-1555
Houston Angel Network*Contact:
PTV Sciences1000 Main, Suite 3250,
Houston, TX 77002713-209-7555
SMH Private Equity Group600 Travis, Suite 3100,
Houston, TX 77025713-224-3100
Sternhill Partners777 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 250,
Houston, TX 77056713-622-2727
Texas Ventures1800 W. Loop South, Suite 475, Houston, TX 77027713-599-1300
*Greater Houston Partnership