in Houston, Texas
Six-figure government-produced jobs: Texas' tech fund at $206K per job, federal stimulus came in at $300K
Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012, 02:02PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
stack of cash

The state’s Emerging Technology Fund has since 2006 invested 169 million taxpayer dollars in companies that have created 820 jobs, an expenditure of $206,097 per job.

The only thing that surprises us about the Dallas Morning News story today here at Texas Watchdog is the relative thrift of this particular government misadventure in capitalism.

When the federal government took a crack at job creation, with a little something called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Watchdog determined the cost to create a single job in Texas at almost $300,000.

Always thinking big, the feds poured $862 billion into the stimulus. Quite often, Watchdog discovered, millions of taxpayer dollars were spent here in Texas to create no jobs at all. Like the $23.1 million stimulus grants at the Texas Departments of Agriculture and Aging and Disability Services.

The Texas Department of Rural Affairs created a single job while it spent $4.4 million. The National Guard squeezed out one property upkeep position for $2.2 million.

The stimulus brain trust had its own, much larger, emerging technology fund, betting $535 million on a would-be solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra, and $118 million on a would-be car battery manufacturer, Ener1.

Both have provided jobs in an area not part of either business plan: bankruptcy law.

According to a report called for by the Texas Legislature, things aren’t nearly as dire for the Emerging Technology Fund, in spite of the meager job creation.

If you include the money the fund gives in matching awards for university research and researcher recruitment the job creation total increases to 1,883, the Morning News story says. The tech fund helped save 686 jobs in Texas.

The fund spurred an additional $592.3 million in outside private and other funding for startup companies in Texas, the report says.

Taxpayers have seen their $169 million portfolio grow to $174 million, or an average increase of less than half a percent a year since the fund was created.

Naturally, the assessment of the fund’s success cleaves along political lines. Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said the increase in the portfolio’s value was “another indicator of the fund’s success.”

Craig McDonald, executive director of Texans for Public Justice, a liberal good government advocacy group, was perhaps being unfair to Perry by singling him out, given the record of his high-rolling federal counterparts.

“The governor,” McDonald said, “is not a very good venture capitalist.”
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of money by flickr user 401K, used via a Creative Commons license.
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