Texas ranks in the top 10 states with promising digital economies. Photo via Getty Images

A new report from California-based software firm Tipalti ranks Texas in the top 10 for states with the best digital economy outlooks.

Based on findings from Indeed.com, the U.S. Census Bureau, The Computing Technology Industry Association, and BroadbanNow, the study looks at which states and countries are best prepared for future and continued shifts towards a more digitized world.

Texas was ranked ninth overall, with a score of 8.4 out of 10 for Tipalti’s digital economy score. The report based this score on a few criteria. Here’s what it found.

Texas was found to have had:

  • 86.23 “digital jobs” per every 100,000 posted
  • A 425.9 MBps download speed
  • 2,634.01 tech employees per every 100,000 employees
  • An economic impact of $142.8 billion economic impact from the tech sector
  • 39,299 tech firms in the state
  • A $91,885 median tech occupation wage

Comparatively, Virginia, which ranked first with a 10 out of 10 score, had:

  • 125.09 “digital jobs” per every 100,000 posted
  • A 505.6 MBps download speed
  • 4,047.26 tech employees per every 100,000 employees
  • An economic impact of $57.8 from the tech sector
  • 20,600 tech firms in the state
  • A $105,412 median tech occupation wage

Of the states in the top 10, Texas had the second-highest tech sector economic impact, falling only behind California with an impact of $515.6 billion. California also had the highest number of tech firms in the country with a total of 54,303.

Vermont was reported to have embraced remote working the most, with 63.05 remote jobs posted per 100,000 residents. Maryland had the highest average download speeds of 506.7 Mbps. And tech workers in Washington were reported to earn the highest median tech occupation wage of $124,653.

The United States did not rank on Tipalti's list of countries with the most promising digital economies. The city-state, which could "dominate the digital landscape in the near future," according to the report, had $193.93 billion in total tech exports in 2020.

On a late-2022 report, Houston and Texas also ranked high among regions to launch a startup. Houston ranked as ninth, falling just behind Dallas at No. 8, on a list from the 42Floors real estate website of the top spots for new entrepreneurs. Around that same time, Job search platform Lensa also ranked Texas as the best state to launch a startup.
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Gow Media's media platform launches to report on Houston energy transition news

it's go time

Houston's newest media platform has officially gone live.

EnergyCapitalHTX.com, originally announced in March, is now up and running. Houston-based Gow Media, a multi-platform media company and the parent company of InnovationMap, CultureMap, SportsMap, and ESPN Radio 97.5FM and 92.5FM, launched the site tonight at an event at Gow Media's office.

“We are excited to roll out our new outlet, EnergyCapitalHTX.com. We have been very impressed by Houston’s efforts to lead the global transition of energy and to address the 'dual challenge' of meeting the world’s growing demand for energy while at the same time reducing carbon emissions,” says David Gow, CEO of Gow Media.

“On our new site, we plan to provide informative, unbiased coverage of the Houston-based initiatives, spanning big corporations and startups," he continues. "We hope that a site dedicated to the transition will bring visibility to the city’s substantive progress and to the path forward.”

The site will cover Houston's energy transition ecosystem — the people, companies, capital sources, and numerous initiatives in Houston. Lindsey Ferrell serves as the inaugural editor of the site.

The site’s inaugural sponsor is HETI, which launched in 2021. Led by Executive Director Jane Stricker, HETI was founded to drive economic growth in the Houston area within the energy transition toward a lower carbon future.

“We are excited to support Gow Media with the launch EnergyCapitalHTX.com,” Stricker says in an earlier news release. "There is so much innovative and exciting activity in our ecosystem. Houston is the Energy Capital of the World, and this platform will amplify the energy leadership that is already happening here.”

Houston wealth management adviser weighs in on benefit options as key for small business success

guest column

While Small Business Appreciation month has come to an end, my work in aiding small businesses achieve financial success is continuous.

In 2009, I began my career as a financial adviser recently co-founded Volante Integrated Planning, a Houston-based office of Northwestern Mutual focused on comprehensive financial planning and helping clients achieve financial freedom.

After years of working with business owners, and as a small business owner myself, I have learned the importance of offering benefits that help attract and retain talent, foster improved work habits and provide a foundation for growth. According to the annual SHRM employee benefit survey, health-related benefits and retirement plans were ranked the two most important benefits for employees. Whether you are a new small business owner or an established one, it is important to be aware of the benefit options available to you and the considerations that go into mapping out a benefits strategy.

1. Retirement plan options

The most common retirement plans available to small business owners are 401(k), simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA and savings incentive match plan for employees (SIMPLE) IRA. The SEP IRA and SIMPLE IRA provide employers the ability to save on a pre-tax basis. While there are some required contributions on behalf of any full-time employees, the SEP and SIMPLE IRA’s are often recommended for the self-employed or businesses with part-time or contract employees. The 401(k) also provides employers with a pre-tax savings opportunity and the ability to save on a Roth basis. Because a 401(k) requires additional administration and ongoing requirements, it is often a valuable tool for business owners who have more full-time employees.

2. Health care benefit options

According to the Affordable Care Act, companies with fewer than 50 employees are not required to provide health insurance. However, offering a competitive health insurance benefits package is an increasingly important strategy to help boost both new employee acquisition and retention. Following the global pandemic, health benefits have become increasingly important. According to a study by McKinsey & Company, 51 percent of employers now offer health care benefits to attract new employees with dental, vision, and short-term disability as the most important for job-seekers.

Not only are these benefits of importance to employees, they provide protection for business owners by ensuring good health and protection from illness-related lost productivity. Some health care benefits available to small business owners include health reimbursement accounts, where you make contributions to an account that can be used by employees to pay for individual health insurance policies acquired on their own. Consider hiring a broker, benefits consultant or financial adviser to help compare your options.

3. Life and disability insurance options

As a small business owner, you have a duty to your family, employees and business partners. It is often the unexpected that can derail the success of a business. To that extent, taking the steps to ensure you and your business are protected if you are unable to work is important. Disability insurance is a versatile product that can be used to protect you, as the owner, and your employees against loss of income due to the inability to work. Additionally, disability overhead coverage and disability buy-out insurance can protect the business and any business partners from an owner’s disability, ensuring that the business can still run smoothly. Life insurance is also important, and often required if seeking a business-related loan, to provide income replacement for your family and any business partners in the event of an owner’s death.

4. Get creative with your benefit options

The small business world is ever changing, which is why it is essential — and sometimes difficult — to keep up with benefit options. I encourage small business owners to get creative with their benefit options by exploring a professional employer organization (PEO) and a multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA). PEO is designed to help small businesses manage their administrative overhead, benefits and compliance duties. Through MEWA, small businesses are able to collaborate on group insurance benefits for a low cost. Lastly, if your family members contribute to your small business, make sure they are on the payroll and eligible for various benefits. This may allow you to increase the benefits your household takes home.

While creating a small business employee benefits plan can be tedious, it will take your small business to the next level. Consult in a CPA, business attorney, and financial adviser to help navigate what benefits are a good fit for you and your small business.

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Jennifer Steil is principal and wealth management adviser at Volante Integrated Planning, a private client group at Northwestern Mutual.