by the numbers

Report: Houston sees huge jump in new businesses amid the pandemic

A recent report finds that the rate of new Houston startups has popped up significantly. Photo by Zview/Getty Images

By one measure, Houston could be considered the startup capital of Texas.

A new study by personal finance website LendingTree shows the Houston metro area experienced a 37.4 percent jump in new-business applications from 2019 to 2020. That was the highest growth rate among Texas’ six biggest metro areas and the 20th highest growth rate among the 100 U.S. metro areas with the most new-business applications in 2020.

In 2019, the Houston area racked up 85,998 new-business applications, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited by LendingTree. A year later, the number of applications in the region soared to 118,183. The data measures applications for nine-digit employer identification numbers (EINs), which the IRS uses to track businesses for tax purposes. An EIN is similar to a person’s Social Security number.

“The pandemic has created so much financial chaos for so many people, and that uncertainty surely spurred many Americans to take the plunge,” says Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree.

“Some folks did it out of necessity because of income or job losses,” he adds. “Some folks did it to feel more secure, as the idea of relying on one source of income just didn’t make sense anymore for a lot of people. Others likely did it because they’d wanted to for years but never felt the time was right.”

Across the U.S., the retail sector witnessed the heftiest increase (59.7 percent) in new-business applications from 2019 to 2020.

“So many companies have made it so easy to sell online that people feel good about taking the plunge,” Schulz says. “Setting up an online store is generally simpler, quicker and less expensive than ever, so the barriers to entry that once scared potential entrepreneurs away from opening a new store aren’t the obstacles that they once were.”

Memphis, Tennessee, topped the LendingTree list. The metro area saw a 77.9 rise in new-business applications from 2019 to 2020.

Elsewhere in Texas:

  • Dallas ranked 37th nationally and second in Texas, with a 29 percent increase in new-business applications.
  • San Antonio ranked 62nd nationally and third in Texas, with an 18 percent increase in new-business applications.
  • McAllen ranked 77th nationally and fourth in Texas, with a 13.3 percent increase in new-business applications.
  • Austin ranked 78th nationally and fifth in Texas, with a 13.2 percent increase in new-business applications.
  • El Paso ranked 79th nationally and sixth in Texas, with an 11.9 percent increase in new-business applications.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston scored high marks for food, culture, and diversity. Photo viaIdeasLaboratory.com

At least according to one new report, Houston is not only the Energy Capital of the World but also the livability capital of Texas.

A new study from Best Cities, powered by Resonance Consultancy, puts Houston at No. 11 among the best cities in the U.S. That’s the top showing among the six Texas cities included in the ranking. Houston appeared at No. 17 on last year’s list.

“Educated, diverse and hard-working, Houston is America’s stealthy powerhouse on the rise,” Best Cities proclaims.

Best Cities notes that while Austin grabs much of the best-city attention, “the promise of the Lone Star State drawing Californians and New Yorkers is quietly being fulfilled in Houston.” The website points out that the Houston metro area has gained nearly 300,000 residents in the past year, thanks to both domestic and international migration.

Here are some of the individual rankings that contribute to Houston’s 11th-place finish:

  • No. 4 for restaurants
  • No. 7 for culture
  • No. 8 for foreign-born population

“Houston is a diverse and vibrant metro where individuals can start a family, grow their business, attend world-class institutions and universities, or be immersed in the 145 languages that are spoken by our residents,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says in a news release. “The quality of life we have in Houston is second to none, and the data we receive from placements such as … Best Cities further reaffirm the strength and resiliency that has come to define this great city of ours.”

A few spots behind Houston on the Best Cities list are No. 14 Dallas and No. 15 Austin.

What lifts Dallas to the No. 14 spot? These are some of the factors cited by Best Cities:

  • Location of more than 10,000 corporate headquarters
  • Strong showing (No. 2) in the airport connectivity category
  • Kudos for the soon-to-be-expanded Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center Dallas
  • Home of the country’s sixth largest LGBTQ+ community
  • Presence of the 28-block, 68-acre Dallas Arts District

Austin comes in at No. 15, one notch behind Dallas.

Best Cities praises Austin as “a place that’s incredibly livable. Talk to any entrepreneur leaving Silicon Valley or Seattle and chances are they’ve considered Austin.”

The website points to a number of Austin’s assets, such as:

  • Growing presence of Fortune 500 headquarters
  • Comparatively low unemployment rate
  • Location of the University of Texas’ flagship campus
  • Status as the Live Music Capital of the World
  • Home of the annual SXSW gathering

Two other Texas cities make the Best Cities list: No. 34 San Antonio and No. 94 McAllen.

Best Cities bases its list of the best U.S. cities on Resonance Consultancy’s combination of statistical performance plus qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors. Those figures are grouped into six main categories. This year’s ranking features 100 U.S. cities. To come up with the ranking, Resonance Consultancy assessed all U.S. metro areas with at least 500,000 residents.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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