Startups will be critical to Tarrant County’s economic recovery, study finds
By Alex Branch
Startup businesses have a substantial impact on job creation in Tarrant County and could be a key to the recovery from the economic fallout of COVID-19, according to new research funded by The University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC) at Fort Worth.
New companies — defined as businesses zero to 1 year old — created 25,157 jobs in 2018 and more than 25,000 jobs in Tarrant County every year from 2013 to 2018, according to the Fall 2020 Jobs Report released by Sparkyard, a free resource to connect entrepreneurs to resources.
In total, startups created 155,307 new jobs during that same period. For context, that figure represents more than three times as many jobs that the recent Amazon HQ2 relocation were projected to bring to the area.
The report is first-of-its-kind research in Texas and represents a new way to show the impact that new firms have on job creation in our local economy.
“As our economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic, this research shows that additional resources should be provided to encourage more job creation in this important but underappreciated segment of our local economy,” said HSC President Dr. Michael Williams, who has emphasized the need for Fort Worth to develop a more robust and better connected entrepreneurial ecosystem.
HSC created Sparkyard in collaboration with Texas Christian University Neely School of Business and the City of Fort Worth. The research was based on Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) from the US Census Department and tracked unemployment insurance claims by new companies as proxy for job creation.
Among the Tarrant County report’s findings:
- The 25,157 jobs created by new companies in 2018 represented almost 10 percent of all new jobs created.
- Tarrant ranks second in North Texas in job creation by new businesses and fourth among large Texas counties.
- Job creation trends by new businesses largely followed the demographics of Fort Worth, both by age and level of educational attainment, meaning that these new jobs were evenly filled across industry and educational level.
Cameron Cushman, HSC’s Associate Vice President of Innovation Ecosystems, said the study was the first to establish data measuring the impact startups have on job creation in Tarrant County.
“The data clearly shows that innovation and entrepreneurship are crucial to sparking job creation in Tarrant County,” Cushman said. “This is information that policymakers and economic development leaders can use to make decisions about where to allocate resources as we continue to grow and strengthen our local economy. If our local startups are already creating this many jobs each year, many more jobs could be created by new companies if we invested more in resources to support them.”
The 2020 Jobs Report is just the first step in examining startups’ impact on job creation in Tarrant County, Cushman said. To better understand that relationship, the research team is pursuing Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages (QCEW) data from the Texas Workforce Commission for a future study that would offer greater detail. Additional data will provide the opportunity to understand the dynamism that entrepreneurial activity plays in job creation at a much deeper level.
Under Dr. Williams’ leadership, HSC has embarked on an ambitious campaign to invest in entrepreneurship and to develop an innovative mindset for its students, faculty and staff. The university has assumed a leadership role in developing entrepreneurship and connecting innovators in Fort Worth.
Exact Diagnostics, a biotech startup housed at HSC was acquired in August 2019 by a California-headquartered molecular diagnostic quality control manufacturer for a reported $60 million. CAGE Bio Inc., a clinical-stage biotech company focused on developing dermatology, inflammation and immunology products, recently expanded to HSC from its initial home in Silicon Valley.HSC also teamed with Fort Worth venture capital firm Bios Partners to create an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program to assist HSC with technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. A HSC podcast, Innovate Fort Worth, hosted by Cushman and featuring interviews with North Texas innovators, has featured more than 20 entrepreneurs and received 3,500 unique downloads.
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