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June/July 2009

by Editorial Staff

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Texas Cities
Rule Jobs List

Nine of the 20 cities on the Forbes’ “Best Cities to Find Jobs” list are in Texas.

Odessa topped the list of the top 10 small cities and was joined by Longview, Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Laredo and College Station-Bryan. Texas also dominated the big cities list with Austin at No. 1. Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Dallas followed right behind.

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The list of midsized cities included Corpus Christi and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission.

The study is based on job growth in 333 regions across the U.S. The analysis looked not only at job growth in the past year but also at how employment figures have changed since 1996.

Forbes credited the energy industry with contributing to Texas’ success.

(Tracey Lamphere)

Creative Jobs Fuel the Economy

Texas’ creative sector is growing and generating wages up to 80 percent higher than jobs in other industries. Industries such as digital media, music and arts-related tourism generated 675,000 jobs, up 20 percent from five years ago, according a study by the Texas Cultural Trust. By 2016, one in 12 jobs in Texas will likely be in the creative sector.

In Houston, the nonprofit arts sector generated $626.3 million in economic impact, supported 14,115 full-time jobs, and contributed $69.5 million in taxes to local and state government in 2008. Special events also have a large influence on the state’s economy. For example, South By Southwest in 2008 had a direct and indirect economic impact of $103 million on the Austin regional economy.

(Tracey Lamphere)

Texas Films Get a reel Boost

Film projects in Texas are revving up for the summer, as new legislation passed in April strengthened incentives for filmmakers.

House Bill 873 provides incentives for film, television, video and digital interactive media production companies.

The new law lets the state offer filmmakers more competitive incentives, says Bob Hudgins, director of the Texas Film Commission.

“Now we’ve opened it up to the smaller projects, which is really important because we need to support independent filmmakers,” says Hudgins.

The Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program offers cash grants equal to 5 percent of qualified in-state spending on feature films, documentaries, television programs, commercials and video games. Under the previous program, projects had to total $1 million to qualify for the 5 percent grant.

The new legislation opens the grant to projects between $250,000 and $1 million. Films with budgets from $1 million to $5 million will receive a 10 percent cash rebate, while films with budgets of more than $5 million will qualify for a 15 percent rebate.

Austin-based Troublemaker Studios has applied for grants under the new law for its upcoming $7 million film “Machete,” which at press time expected to start shooting in Texas in late July. Warner Brothers’ “The Jetsons” and the TV series “Friday Night Lights” are also set to begin shooting this summer.

Friday Night Lights

For more on what film projects mean to the state economy, read “It’s Action! for Texas Films.”

For more information, visit the Texas Film Commission.

(Karen Hudgins)

Fewer Raptors, Fewer Jobs?

In April, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced budget proposals that would end production of the Air Force’s most advanced fighter, the F-22 Raptor.

Completing units currently in production will give the Air Force a fleet of 187 Raptors by 2012, about 60 fewer than initially planned. About 2,000 of Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth employees work on the Raptor.

At press time, it was unclear what effect the F-22 decision would have on the company’s work force.

The proposed budget also increases orders for another fighter, Lockheed’s F-35 Lightning II, which is assembled in Fort Worth.

(Bruce Wright)

Concurrent Education

Students in Bryan who risk not completing high school have an opportunity to learn real job skills while earning their high school diploma. Bryan Independent School District’s Optional Flexible School Day Program offers academic and technical training options to students who cannot participate in a traditional classroom setting because of life challenges and other circumstances.

Starting last fall, Blinn College began offering introductory and welding courses that the students attended two evenings each week.

“The first pilot class has become three concurrent classes,” says Brian Burk, Blinn’s director of work force education. “This past semester, we were very fortunate almost all classes were at capacity.”

Blinn offers applied technology training in 13 Brazos Valley counties and has evening welding programs using facilities at other high schools, including Hearne and Sealy.

(Gerard MacCrossan)

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