We're No. 1

Texas ranks as top state for female entrepreneurs

The Lone Star State provides ample opportunities as well as a booming business economy for female entrepreneurs, a new report found. Pexels

Texas is known for being a land of opportunity, but a recent study evaluated how those business opportunities translated to benefitting female entrepreneurs. Turns out, starting a business as a woman in the Lone Star State is a pretty good idea.

Fit Small Business ranked all 50 states based on the business opportunities for women. In the January 8 report, Texas came in No. 1 — up from No. 8 last year. Ohio, Minnesota, Washington, and Alabama rounded out the top five, respectively.

Each state was evaluated by four equally weighted factors: its general business climate and opportunity, the number of female-owned businesses, economic and financial health, and safety and well-being for women.

Texas ranked strongest in its economic and financial health, for which it ranked No. 3 overall, followed by the number of female-owned businesses, for which it ranked No. 5. Texas' general business climate was ranked No. 8 in the study. Where the state stands to improve is in its safety and well-being for women. Texas ranked No. 41 in this category, which factored in cost of living, social support for women, and whether or not the state had a positive environment for women.

"Texas is hands-down one of the nation's top states due to its business-friendly legal and economic climate," the report says. "Put aside having no corporate or income taxes and a high rate of startup growth; startups are flocking to Texas high startup success rate."

American Express' 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report found that women-owned businesses are growing at an impressive rate. The study found that over the past 11 years, the amount of women-owned businesses grew 58 percent — compared to the 12 percent all businesses reportedly increased.

In this study, Texas tied with Utah for second place among the states "where women-owned businesses most increased their economic clout between 2007 and 2018." When the data was broken down into metropolitan areas, Texas had three cities in the top 10: San Antonio at No. 2, Austin at No. 3, and Dallas No. 9.

Graphic courtesy of Fit Small Business

The coffee company announced three Houston-area solar projects. Courtesy of Starbucks

Coffee shop chain Starbucks is plugging into Texas' solar energy industry in a big way.

Two 10-megawatt solar farms in Texas owned by Cypress Creek Renewables LLC are providing enough energy for the equivalent of 360 Starbuck stores, including locations in Houston, Humble, Katy, and Spring. Separately, Starbucks has invested in six other Texas solar farms owned by Cypress Creek, representing 50 megawatts of solar energy; Santa Monica, California-based Cypress Creek is selling that power to other customers.

Three of the eight solar farms in the Texas portfolio are just outside the Houston metro area. One is in the Fort Bend County town of Beasley, while two of the projects are in Wallis and Wharton.

Starbucks already relies on a North Carolina solar farm equipped with 149,000 panels to deliver solar energy equivalent to powering 600 Starbucks stores in North Carolina, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

"Our long-standing commitment to renewable energy supports our greener-retail initiative and demonstrates our aspiration to sustainable coffee, served sustainably," Rebecca Zimmer, Starbucks' director of global environmental impact, says in an April 15 release about its solar investment in Texas. "Now, we are investing in new, renewable energy projects in our store communities, which we know is something our partners and customers can appreciate for their local economy and for the environment."

The solar commitment in Texas aligns with Starbucks' goal of designing, building, and operating 10,000 "greener" company-owned stores around the world by 2025. The Seattle-based retailer expects this initiative — whose features include renewable energy, energy efficiency, and waste reduction — to cut $50 million in utility costs over the next 10 years.

U.S. Bank's community development division teamed up with Starbucks and Cypress Creek on the Texas solar farms. Chris Roetheli, a business development officer at U.S. Bank, says solar tax equity investments like those undertaken by Starbucks are growing in popularity among non-traditional investors.

"Starbucks is taking a unique approach — investing in solar farms regionally to support a specific group of its stores," Roetheli says in the announcement of the solar collaboration. "This is a new concept, and one that I think other companies are watching and may follow. It's an interesting model that allows them to talk specifically about the impact of their investments."

Starbucks' investment comes as Texas' stature in the solar energy sector keeps rising, along with the state's role in the wind energy industry.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, more than 2,900 megawatts of solar capacity are installed in Texas. That's enough energy to power nearly 350,000 homes. Among the states, Texas ranks fifth for the amount of installed solar capacity.

Solar investment in Texas exceeds $4.5 billion, with about 650 solar companies operating statewide, the association says. The solar energy industry employs more than 13,000 full-time and part-time workers in Texas, according to the Texas Solar Power Association.

With more than 4 gigawatts (over 7,000 megawatts) of solar capacity expected to be added in Texas over the next five years, the national solar association reported in 2018 that "Texas is poised to become a nationwide leader in solar energy … ."

As it stands now, though, solar supplies less than 1 percent of Texas' electricity.

A 2018 state-by-state report card for friendliness toward solar power assigned a "C" to Texas, putting it in 34th place among the states.

The report card, released by SolarPowerRocks.com, lauds the backing of big Texas cities like Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio in encouraging residential solar installations.

However, the report card adds, outlying areas in Texas lag their urban counterparts in support of residential solar, "and we'd like lawmakers here to codify more protections and goals for solar adoption, but in the most populous areas, the Lone Star [State] shines."