WalletHub ranks these Texas towns among the best for starting a business. Photo via Getty Images

When it comes to launching a business in Texas, you might want to look into the suburbs that surround the state's major metros.

Personal finance website WalletHub ranked the best and worst small towns to start a business — and the Lone Star State had plenty of suburbs making the top 400 in the list of more than 1,300 towns.

The report found that Georgetown as the best small city in Texas for starting a business. The website classifies a small city as one with a population of 25,000 to 100,000. The Austin suburb appears at No. 70 on the list overall, and No. 1 in Texas. It scored particularly well in the access to resources category (No. 26) and business environment category (No. 31).

To determine the best small cities for startups, WalletHub compared the business-friendly nature of more than 1,300 small cities across the country. Among the factors it examined were average growth in number of businesses, labor costs, and investor access.

Houston suburbs didn't manage to crack the top 200, but four were recognized amongst the rest of the best small busissiness towns:

  • Texas City , No. 202
  • Baytown, No. 267
  • Deer Park, No. 362
  • Conroe, No. 369

Washington, Utah, nabbed the top spot nationally, along with four other Utah cities in the top 10.

“Size matters when choosing a city in which to launch a startup. As many veteran entrepreneurs — and failed startups — understand well, bigger is not always better,” WalletHub says. “A city with a smaller population can offer a greater chance of success, depending on an entrepreneur’s type of business and personal preferences.”

Elsewhere in Texas, other highly ranked small cities in include:

  • Farmers Branch (Dallas-Fort Worth), No. 102
  • Pflugerville lands (Austin), No. 150
  • San Marcos (Austin), No. 181
  • West Odessa, No. 193
  • Leander (Austin), No. 250
  • Kyle (Austin), No. 258
  • Greenville (Dallas-Fort Worth), No. 275
  • Cedar Park (Austin), No. 280
  • Waxahachie (Dallas-Fort Worth), No. 306
  • Huntsville, No. 308
  • Hurst (Dallas-Fort Worth), No. 312
  • Socorro (El Paso), No. 339
  • Sherman, No. 368
  • Seguin (San Antonio), No. 375

Baytown, Port Arthur, and Texas City tied for first place in the U.S. in terms of highest average revenue per business.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

More square footage and cost of internet are two big reasons Texas stands out. Photo by Maskot/Getty Images

Texas punches in as one of best states for working from home, says study

remote possibilites

The meaning of “going to work” is swiftly changing. The Ladders career platform forecasts that one-fourth of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022.

“This change in working arrangements is impossible to overhype. As big as it is, it’s even bigger than people think,” Marc Cenedella, CEO of The Ladders, said in December. “Hiring practices typically move at a glacial pace, but the pandemic turned up the heat so we’re seeing a rapid flood of change in this space. It’s really rather amazing.”

Given the dramatic shift in what it means to go to work, some folks with remote jobs may be wondering where they should live. It turns out that Texas sits at No. 7 on a new list from personal finance website WalletHub of the best states for working from home. So, if you hold a remote job and already call Texas home, you might just want to stay put.

To identify which places are best for working from home, WalletHub compared 12 key metrics for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Those metrics include the cost of internet service and the size of a typical home. “Together, these metrics show how feasible working from home is in terms of cost, comfort, and safety,” WalletHub says.

Here’s how Texas fares in six categories, with a No. 1 position being best and a No. 25 position being average:

  • No. 1 for average square footage of homes.
  • No. 2 for cost of internet service.
  • No. 19 for share of potential telecommuters.
  • No. 25 for average price of electricity.
  • No. 25 for share of population working from home.
  • No. 29 for household internet access.

New Jersey grabs the No. 1 spot on the list, and Alaska ranks last.

“I believe that working from home will need to become a more viable option for many industries, regardless of the pandemic status, as we continue to see increasing fuel prices,” Sean Walker, professor of behavioral management in the College of Business and Global Affairs at the University of Tennessee at Martin, tells WalletHub.

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A new report ranks Texas as a top spot for tech workers. Photo via Getty Images

Texas ranks as top state for tech workers

techy texas

The Houston area can help wave Texas’ newly hoisted flag representing its status as the best state for tech workers.

A new study by IT service automation company SysAid analyzed several factors that affect a state’s desirability for tech workers, such as average internet speed and coverage, number of available tech jobs, and average industry salary compared with the state average. When all the data was tallied, Texas came out on top.

Here are a couple of data points that helped push Texas to the No. 1 position:

  • 31,110 tech jobs are available in the state, demonstrating significant demand for tech workers.
  • The typical tech salary is $103,370, more than double the state’s typical salary of $50,490.

As home to a bevy of tech companies like BMC Software, FlightAware, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HighRadius, and NetIQ, the Houston area certainly contributes to the state’s No. 1 standing. According to a report released in 2021 by the Greater Houston Partnership and Houston Exponential, the more than 8,800 tech-related businesses in the region help generate $28.1 billion in local GDP.

Statewide, the tech sector pumps $142.8 billion into the economy, according to a recent report from CompTIA, a trade group for the tech industry.

Ranked behind Texas in the SysAid study are four states viewed as tech rivals:

  • California, No. 2.
  • New York, No. 3.
  • Virginia, No. 4.
  • Florida, No. 5.

“Jobs in tech and IT are becoming more in demand, with typically high salaries making the jobs desirable and free courses in coding making the industry more accessible. The data reveals that it is easier in some states to work in tech than others, with demand and salaries varying massively between states,” SysAid says. “Texas tops our list as the best state to work in tech, and it is fascinating to see that California, home to Silicon Valley, is not [at the] top.”

The CompTIA report shows nearly 791,000 people work in Texas’ tech sector. Texas ranks first among all the states for the number of tech jobs (10,851) added in 2021 and second for the size of its tech workforce (behind California). Texas also ranks second, behind Florida, for the number of tech businesses (1,807) launched in 2021.

CompTIA projects Texas will rank second this year, behind California, for the number of tech jobs added (21,303).

“Unlike other would-be innovation hubs, [Texas] has been quietly nurturing high-tech industry for decades. If Texas eventually rivals California, the consequences could be momentous, not just for industry, but for U.S. politics,” according to a Bloomberg opinion piece published in 2021.

Looks like they've found their match. Photo courtesy of Stir

New app from Texas-based Match stirs up the dating scene for single parents

LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT SWIPE

The 20 million single parents in the United States now have a dating app to call their own: Dallas-based dating app company Match just launched Stir, a dating app designed to connect single parents who are seeking dates.

“Where mainstream dating apps cater to the general population, single parents can often feel like outliers, and they are oftentimes overlooked on mainstream dating apps,” says Din Thi Bui, vice president of new verticals at Match. “It was important for us to intentionally design an app for the single parent community, and make it easier for them to connect with others without fear of judgment.”

The rollout coincided with National Single Parent Day. Surveys conducted by Match continually show single parents find it tough to date. In part, Match says, that’s because some single parents feel potential partners are turned off when it’s disclosed that they have children.

Bui says the Stir app is available to any single parent interested in dating other single parents, regardless of sexual orientation and other factors. When building their Stir profile, a user can set various dating preferences.

One of the app’s unique features is Stir Time, which enables single parents to more easily coordinate their schedules.

The app can be downloaded from the iOS App Store or Google Play. Upgraded versions are priced at $39.99 for one month, $89.99 for three months, and $119.99 for six months. It’s available in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Matches made on Stir are based on responses to member profile questions related to hobbies, dating preferences, likes, dislikes, parental schedules, and communication preferences.

“Having kids shouldn't be a dealbreaker when dating,” Bui says in a news release. “We’re dedicated to giving single parents a dating experience where they are celebrated and feel like they can be themselves. With that, our hope is that they can truly focus on having a personal life beyond navigating parenthood.”

Match’s other dating apps include Tinder, Hinge, OurTime, and OkCupid.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

The team behind Houston-based IVOX+ will spotlight local and Texas topics. Photo courtesy of IVOX Media

New Houston-based streaming service showcases the best of the Bayou City

IVOX AND CHILL

Fans of Houston and Texas culture and personalities who want to see even more coverage have a new outlet. Local production house IVOX Media has launched IVOX+, a new streaming service available through multiple partner apps and devices.

Boasting original local programming, independent films, classic movies, and music, IVOX+ is available for download for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, as well as Google Play for Android phones and tablets.

For bigger screen options, the service is also available on Roku devices, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, and on Samsung TVs, smart TVs, and other devices. Subscribers pay $5.99 per month for independent movies, short films, original series, and thousands of movie classics and old school TV shows.

“As an independent streaming service created in Texas, IVOX+ speaks directly to Texas culture, music, sports, and filmmaking,” IVOX founder Louie Comella tells CultureMap. “The independent spirit that is uniquely Texas can be found in many of the IVOX+ original programs which highlight Texas brands, businesses, destinations, and people.”

On tap for original local programming are Beerliners, Distillery Arts, and Food Civilization, which feature Yellow Rose Distilling, Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company, 8th Wonder Brewery, Clutch Distilling, and chef Ryan Pera of Coltivare and Agricole Hospitality.

Meanwhile, sports personality Lauren Leal (ESPN 97.5FM, Channel 2 KPRC, CW39, and AT&T Sportsnet), will host Sports with Balls with co-host Jeff Michael.

Other Houston topics and programs include The Art Car Parade, Chinatown, The Mahatma Gandhi District, and The Navigation Esplanade neighborhood in IVOX+ originals Es La Realidad, Stories from Chinatown, and Reel Humans.

Houston filmmakers featured on IVOX+ include Courtney Glaude, Stan Hillard, Jantel Fontenot, and Bob Willems. Musical artists Zak The Tyrant, Dalton D’Rich, Jono Jono, Rxbyn, and Doug Westscott will be featured in the cinematic music series.

Plans for IVOX+ include linear and live channels over the next year for its media brands, including Comedy Show TV, Food Civilization, and IVOX MUSIC, with curated channels from Houston, Las Vegas, and Palm Springs, California.

The streaming service was born from Comella (a commercial film executive producer), who, along with fellow cinematographer Gracie Henley, experienced the challenges faced by independent artists to get their work seen by an audience, a release notes.

“Considering all the streaming platforms available, there’s still no real entry point for independents to get their work actually seen by a global audience,” said Comella in a statement. “The days of meeting a studio executive to get the big break are long gone. IVOX+ was created to support independent filmmakers, and content creators, as well as be a destination for indie movies, short films, and new artists.”

Other Texas topics, according to a press release, include:

Austin

  • Austin City Limits
  • Kyle Park
  • Deep Eddy Vodka
  • The Continental Club
  • SoCo neighborhood

Dallas

  • The Reverend Horton Heat
  • Ricki Derek
  • Lower Greenville neighborhood
  • Jimmy’s Italian Grocery

San Antonio

  • The Blue Star Brewing Co.
  • The Phantom Rockers
  • Rico’s
  • Rebecca Creek Distillery
  • Sam’s Burger Joint
  • Pearl Brewery
  • The BlueStar First Friday event
  • SouthTown

For more information or to stream the service, visit www.IVOXplus.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Conroe is tops in Texas and No. 3 in the nation's list of boomtowns. Photo courtesy of Visit Houston

Hardworking Houston suburb tops list of biggest boomtowns in Texas

growth spurt

The Houston suburb of Conroe has come a long way since Civil War veteran Isaac Conroe planted roots there in October 1881 with the purchase of a tract of land and the establishment of a sawmill.

Fast forward 140 years, and Conroe now reigns as the leading boomtown in Texas. On November 2, personal finance website SmartAsset released a study ranking Conroe as the No. 1 boomtown in the state. Even more impressive: The city ties with Meridian, Idaho, for the No. 3 spot among the nation's top boomtowns. The No. 1 city overall is Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville.

Conroe did not show up among the country's top 50 boomtowns in SmartAsset's 2019 study.

SmartAsset evaluated data for 500 of the largest U.S. cities to come up with its list of the top boomtowns. It looked at growth factors for each city such as five-year population change, average yearly growth in economic output (GDP), five-year change in number of businesses, five-year growth in housing, and August 2021 unemployment rate.

Among the 500 cities, Conroe ranks fifth for the five-year population change (26.03 percent) and fourth for the five-year growth rate in housing (39.69 percent). On SmartAsset's 100-point boomtown scale, Conroe earns a score of 97.59.

As of April 2020, Conroe was home to nearly 90,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Population growth in Conroe is not slowing. The increase continues to be steady. Conroe's median age and educational attainment [are] ideal for businesses looking to locate here," Danielle Scheiner, executive director of the Conroe Economic Development Council, said in April.

Conroe is the only city in the Houston area to make the top 50 on SmartAsset's boomtown list. However, five other Texas cities did break into the top 50:

  • New Braunfels (San Antonio metro area), tied for No. 14 with Concord, North Carolina. Boomtown score: 89.83. New Braunfels appeared at No. 6 in SmartAsset's 2019 boomtown study.
  • Austin, No. 17. Boomtown score: 89.52. Austin appeared at No. 12 in SmartAsset's 2019 boomtown study.
  • Round Rock (Austin metro area), tied for No. 25 with Charleston, South Carolina. Boomtown score: 86.98. Round Rock appeared at No. 10 in SmartAsset's 2019 study.
  • Denton (Dallas-Fort Worth metro area), No. 36. Boomtown score: 83.87. Denton appeared at No. 2 in SmartAsset's 2019 boomtown study.
  • McKinney (Dallas-Fort Worth metro area), No. 39. Boomtown score: 83.59. McKinney appeared at No. 14 in SmartAsset's 2019 boomtown study.

Four Texas cities dropped out of the boomtown ranking from 2019 to 2021: Frisco, which ranked 13th two years ago; College Station, ranked 16th; Flower Mound, ranked 24th; and Allen, ranked 37th.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Following $50M gift,Tilman Fertitta reveals goals for eponymous medical school at University of Houston

Q&A

As Houston’s most high-profile billionaire and owner of the posh 5-star Post Oak Hotel and Houston Rockets, Tilman J. Fertitta has become synonymous with over-the-top opulence and big-time entertainment.

But the CEO of the massive Feritta Entertainment empire’s latest move has nothing to do with penthouses or point guards, but rather a legacy, game-changing appropriation meant to aid his home state’s health.

The longtime UH board member and former chairman and his family have just pledged $50 million to the University of Houston College of Medicine. In turn, the new medical school has been christened the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine.

The projected school, upon completion. Rendering courtesy of University of Houston

This landmark gift aims to address the state’s critical primary care physician shortage, (especially in low-income and underserved communities), as well as attract innovation-focused scholars, UH notes.

Additionally, the grant is meant to further clinical and translational research, with an emphasis on population health, behavioral health, community engagement, and the social determinants of health, according to a press release.

Here is how the Fertitta family gift will be distributed:

  • $10 million funds five endowed chairs for faculty hires who are considered national stars in their fields with a focus on health care innovation. This portion of the gift will be matched one-to-one as part of the University’s “$100 Million Challenge” for chairs and professorships, doubling the endowed principal to $20 million.
  • $10 million establishes an endowed scholarship fund to support endowed graduate research stipends/fellowships for medical students.
  • $10 million will cover start-up costs for the Fertitta Family College of Medicine to enhance research activities including facilities, equipment, program costs and graduate research stipends/fellowships.
  • $20 million will create the Fertitta Dean’s Endowed Fund to support research-enhancing activities.

No stranger to writing big checks, Fertitta donated $20 million to UH Athletics — the largest individual donation ever — in 2016 to transform UH’s basketball arena into the now high-tech Fertitta Center.

CultureMap caught up with the CEO (who just sold his Golden Nugget gaming for $1.6 billion), best-selling author, and Billion Dollar Buyer to discuss his landmark gift.

CultureMap: Congratulations on this legacy grant, which has been a long time coming. What does this gift mean to you, now that it’s finally official?

Tilman Fertitta: This was a vision of our chancellors and, you know, I’m on my third, six-year term and not been the chairman for eight years — and we started working on this, seven, eight years ago.

To be able to be in the beginning and the nucleus, and the idea, and what we wanted, and to get the approval from Austin—to watch it come to fruition, how often does somebody get to do a naming gift at the same time they had a lot to do with the creation of the school? So, it was very special in my heart.

CM: Many know you as the CEO of a hospitality empire, author, and even TV personality. But not many know of your commitment to healthcare.


TF: I think there’s one thing in this world that we definitely should always be treated equally on, and that's that’s equal health care for all. This medical school will serve the whole community.

We’re trying to recruit students who want to be primary physicians who will take care of the community that we live in. It’s just something that was very important to me in my whole family.

CM: Academia, scholarship, and research aside, this could essentially be looked at as seed capital for a fledgling operation. Is that a fair assessment?

TF: I know where you’re going with this and yes, it’s no different than business.

I have the vision to know that being in nearly the third largest city in America and a top 100 university in the United States — as University of Houston is according to U.S. News & World Report — that I know what this is going to be in 50 years. It’s no different than looking at another business that you start and you can have the vision to see how successful it'll be in the years to come.

Being on the ground floor of the University of Houston Medical School and being a part of it from its inception, and to help the seed money that will attract other money, I know that in the years to come what a special nationwide medical school this is going to be — because it’s in one of the great cities of America.

So, to be a part of it today and still be a part of it when I’m not here 50 years from now, maybe even sooner than that [laughs], you know, it’s going to be something very special to always be attached to.

CM: Other Houston medical schools here have distinctions in pivotal research or groundbreaking procedures. Is there a specific direction you’d like UH Med to take, going forward?

TF: Honestly, you know, what I’ve been saying? There’s a significant shortage of primary care physicians, not only in the country, but in the state of Texas. We ranked number 47th in the nation.

What we need in the state of Texas, as well in Houston and everywhere, is primary care physicians to take care of your everyday people—and to see them to know if you need a specialist.

I hope that this medical school looks back and we see that they’re graduating more primary care physicians than any other university in the United States and that's our goal. We’re going to be a med school of the community.

CM: You have zero problem with issuing directives, Tilman. What’s your message to the first graduating class, the one that will initially benefit from this $50 million gold mine?

TF: Go out and take care of the people.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Creative Houston art duo unveils dreamy new tech world in downtown's hottest destination

simulation stimulation

Aclever, Houston-based duo has unveiled a new digital art experience at downtown’s hottest hub. Creative technologist Billy Baccam and multidisciplinary artist Alex Ramos, founders of Input Output Creative Media Lab, have launched “Simulation,” the first artist residency at Post Houston. The show runs through June 30.

The creative team has transformed part of POST Houston's X atrium into a creative media lab. There, Baccam and Ramos have experimented with various kinds of emerging technologies to prototype and develop art experiences.

Mediums in the show include projection mapping, 3D printing, body tracking, camera vision, augmented reality, LEDs, and computer simulation, per a press release.

The “Simulation” layout utilizes the glass wall as an interface for the public to experience the art. Internally, viewers can see an amalgamation of machinery, wires, gizmos, and gadgets similar to the inner workings of a computer.

Externally, viewers can explore and interact with the art through the glass wall via body tracking sensors, augmented reality via QR codes, and just by merely watching. Various books, movies, and other memorabilia have been scattered throughout the space to showcase inspiration on the subject matter of simulations and their influence on culture, a release notes.

“We’re super excited to be able to share the art we have diligently been working on for ‘Simulation,’” the team notes in a statement. “We’ve been able to explore a variety of new mediums such as 3D printing and augmented reality while also getting a chance to dive deeper into our previous works based on projection mapping, interactivity, and computer simulations. As we continue to create, learn, and iterate, the pieces will also evolve to reflect our growth. We thank the public for engaging with our work and bringing about moments of joy and wonder.”

For more information on the duo, visit www.inputoutput.space or @1nput0utput on Instagram.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.