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The Official Publication of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas

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Issue No. 92
April 2012

Texas EDGE
Online Research Service Provides Valuable Economic Development Tool

October 2007

When Texas counties are called upon to make presentations – whether it is bidding for an upcoming conference, marketing the county as a tourism hot spot, or luring a multimillion dollar corporation – the first step is to gather data, and lots of it. Charts, spreadsheets, bar graphs, pie graphs, line graphs, and analysis upon analysis are all used to communicate the county’s strengths and capabilities.

Collecting, culling, and arranging these facts and figures can be a time-consuming process, calling for countless queries, e-mail requests, phone calls, and follow-up.

In other instances, counties may have one seemingly simple question which, in reality, can only be answered after a great deal of research.

Consider the following two question-and-answer exchanges. These queries were sent to analysts at Texas EDGE, a new, cost-free service launched in August by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Mike Hatley, vice president of Economic Development Midland Development Corporation
Question: Who actually pays for/supports the Midland Development Corporation?

Texas EDGE
Don Hoyte, Ph.D., Regional Fiscal Analysis
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Answer: From our data, it is estimated that 57.4 percent of all sales subject to sales tax in the city of Midland come from retail trade. To me, that means you could make the leap that 57.4 percent of the sales taxes supporting Midland Development Corporation (MDC) come from consumers with the rest coming from businesses.

From our economic model, we can estimate that 91.5 percent of consumer sales in the Council of Governments (COG) region come from consumers living within the COG region. So that means that 52.5 percent (or 91.5 percent of 57.4 percent) of the sales taxes that support the MDC come from consumers living within the COG region.

Carol Mills, executive director, Belton Economic Development Corporation
Question: What would be the economic impact of the expansion of “Company A” on the Central Texas Council of Government Region (including Bell County) and on the whole state of Texas from 2007 to 2015?

Texas EDGE
Don Hoyte, Ph.D., Regional Fiscal Analysis
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Answer (summary): Approximately 14 jobs would be added to the Central Texas economy in 2007 due largely to construction activity. The gain would only be 4.6 jobs in 2008 since the construction period would have ended and the three permanent jobs added at “COMPANY NAME” would be the driving change at that time. The build up in jobs would continue in 2009 and 2010. Ultimately by 2015, the 10 additional jobs at “COMPANY NAME” would add a total of 17.4 jobs to the region.

From the state's perspective, the gains would be more. A total of 28.3 jobs would be added to the Texas economy in 2007. By 2015, the total state gain would be 34.2 jobs.


Texas EDGE

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has defined Texas EDGE as an online research service designed to help local governments and economic development organizations analyze facts and figures. Available at www.window.state.tx.us/texasedge/, this expanded research service provides governments, developers and businesses across the state with data and analysis useful in revenue planning, financial analysis, economic forecasting, site location decisions and other issues affecting trade and industry growth.

“Community leaders need a range of valuable information to help make plans for future growth, and the Comptroller’s office offers a comprehensive system for thorough data and analysis at a convenient point of access readily available to the public,” Combs said. “The wide variety of information gathered by our staff of researchers, analysts and economists will aid decision makers in directly impacting the future state economy.”

Communities often need detailed information regarding work force statistics, transportation, education, supply chains, tax rates and more. Texas EDGE — an acronym for Economic Data for Growth and Expansion — presents a tool for compiling free, in-depth economic information and analysis. Texas EDGE can also provide economic analysis of specific geographic areas impacted by natural disasters, demographic shifts and tax policies.

“In regards to fiscal analysis, our staff can provide regional economic modeling to analyze how increased employment or other changes can impact an economy,” Combs said. “We also inform economic and work force development professionals about trends in various regional industries and occupations to ensure today’s workers have jobs tomorrow. Using current reports, projections and demographics in a selected region, we can filter and organize results using multiple criteria such as number and percent change of jobs, education level, earnings and more.”

Texas EDGE features a variety of tools, some of which allow users to run customized reports. Community leaders can request a tailored analysis from the Comptroller’s office to obtain county- level employment data or multi-county reports. Local governments and development organizations can also request regional economic model reports analyzing the effect of business locations and other economic changes in specific areas. The Comptroller’s office has access to several different models for economic forecasting and policy analysis.

“Communities across Texas – big and small – need detailed information and analysis to more efficiently plan for an increasing population and industry expansion,” said Carlton Schwab, president and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Council. “Texas EDGE will now offer that high level of customization and specialization without limited public accessibility. This service combines data from various economic sectors, rather than having to integrate data from different products and services.”

Furthermore, governments and businesses can request overviews of economic data for any Texas county, ask for detailed demographic and/or work force analyses of specific Texas areas, request maps showing public infrastructure, and collect information on local tax rates, collections and tax options available for any area.

“We’re putting vital information to use while enabling local governments and businesses to make important decisions regarding economic development,” Combs said. “With Texas EDGE, you’re not required to know a complicated system, and you don’t have to master special analysis tools. Our staff can show community leaders how to find the information they need quickly, or we can offer a customized report and do the research for you.”

Julie Anderson