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Tax Incentives for Businesses in Texas

The state of Texas has the second largest GDP in the United States, and at $1.6 trillion it accounts for nearly 9 percent of the US total. A Forbes report listed the Lone Star state in fourth place along a number of crucial rankings, including Best Place for Business and Best in Business Costs. Other key metrics like business density, start-up activity, and business survival rates are also among the top 5 of all 50 states. More importantly, the state is known for its favorable tax climate, which ranked 10th in the 2016 State Business Tax Climate Index. Overall Texas spends a total of $19b per year on incentive schemes, of which $743 million are devoted to corporate rebates or reduction programs, such as the ones listed below.

Enterprise Zone Program

This program was created to promote job creation and attract private investment in designated distressed counties. The program offers businesses involved in qualifying projects a sales tax refund whose amount depends on capital investment and the number of jobs created. Total refunds go from $25,000 up to a maximum of $3.75 million.

Texas Enterprise Fund

This Fund was created in 2004 to favor the creation of high paying jobs and to promote Texas as a top destination for business. The incentive involves the award of a cash grant whose specific dollar amount varies depending on scope of the project, but can go anywhere from $194,000 to $50 million. So far, cash grants have been awarded to businesses of all sizes and sectors, from JPMorgan Chase to Tyson Foods, Jamba Juice, and Petco.

Data Center Exemption

Under this incentive scheme, exemptions are applied to use and state sale taxes (which amount to 6.25 percent) for the purchase of cooling and or electrical systems, electricity, hardware, software, peripherals, emergency generators, and any other equipment needed to operate personal property within the building. To qualify, data centers must employ a minimum of 20 people and make an initial capital investment of $200 million. Read more »



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How Much Does Facebook Use Cost The UK Economy?

The UK ranks sixth in the world in terms of its number of Facebook users. Facebook use is widespread across genders and age groups, and approximately 70 per cent of UK citizens have a Facebook account, spending on average 2.5 hours a day using this social network. The total number of active users has been steadily growing and is expected to reach 37.7 million by the end of 2017 and more than 41 million by 2021.

This popular platform is able to generate more than just social interaction, but also economic activity by reducing barriers to commerce and networking activities. However, there is a downside to Facebook use, which is often quantified in terms of productivity losses. So what is the real cost of such large-scale use of this social media platform? This article looks at various types of data to assess the economic impact of Facebook use in the United Kingdom.

Facebook Use and Workplace Productivity

In 2015, a Deloitte study evaluated the economic impact of Facebook use at global level. Researchers found in the UK, Facebook generated $11 billion (nearly £9 billion) and created 154,000 new jobs in areas like marketing, software development, and e-commerce. However, these figures were offset by other statistics that point at the negative impact of social network use. This impact is often quantified by looking at the time spent on social media platforms during what otherwise would be working hours.

Productivity decreases were reported as far back as 2007, three years after the social network was founded. In autumn 2007, the BBC reported on a survey carried out by an employment law firm, which interviewed more than 3,500 British firms and concluded that Facebook use in the workplace resulted in 233 million hours of work lost every month. Read more »



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How To Improve Productivity In The Workplace

Productivity remains a thorny issue in many US workplaces. With the exception of the 1995-2003 period, annual productivity rates have declined by 36 percent since the late 1940′s, going from 2.2 percent to the current rate of 1.4 percent. Some years, productivity rate increases can be as low as 0.8 percent, a figure that has led many to affirm that America has a productivity problem. Low productivity has far-reaching repercussions, going from diminished economic output to a slow increase in living standards. So what can US employers do to improve productivity in the workplace?

In the first place, it is important to understand that productivity growth is closely linked to worker output (whether this output is measured on an hourly basis or otherwise). This means that identifying the reasons behind low employee productivity is a crucial step when it comes to defining a productivity strategy. To that end, business owners should critically assess how their company is performing along the following dimensions:

Resources

Inadequate resources are one of the main causes behind low workplace productivity. When staff lack resources to do their job, their performance is unsatisfactory and their stress levels are high, and these factors will eventually lead to dissatisfaction, frustration, and employee burnout.

It is worth noting that resources can be tangible (equipment, technology) and intangible (training, systems, and procedures). On this note, most modern businesses can benefit from investing in technological resources that automate processes and therefore liberate employees from having to perform redundant and unnecessarily time-consuming tasks.

Training

No matter how many resources you may put at the disposal of your employees, if they lack training their productivity will be severely affected. Adequate training helps staff make efficient use of the resources available, bolsters their confidence, and strengthens their motivation to get the job well done. Read more »



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Top Tips For Launching A Successful Business

Although entrepreneurship is at the heart of the US economy, business fail rates seem to be increasing and are currently 30 percent higher than they were in the late 1970s. There are other figures that confirm this trend: the latest US census shows that the annual business creation / business fail ratio is 400,000 / 470,000; and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only half of all new businesses survive their initial 5 years, whereas the 10-year survival rate is even lower at 33 percent.

In this article we offer seven tips that can help US entrepreneurs launch a successful business.

1. Focus on strategic planning

Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of investing most of their time and resources into planning and running successful operations. However, concentrating all efforts on the day-to-day running of a business often leads to missing the forest for the trees. To avoid that, you should ensure business strategy (whereby mid and long-term goals and action plans are defined) is a top priority and underpins all business operations.

2. Create and nurture an organizational culture

When it comes to achieving long-term business success, a strong organizational culture is as important as strategic planning. Contrary to popular belief, organizational culture is not the exclusive prerogative of large firms, as it also plays a key role in the success of small businesses by permeating every aspect of their operations with motivating values and a compelling mission.

3. Look after existing customers

Although this may seem an obvious suggestion, the truth is that many new businesses tend to focus their efforts on acquiring new clients, and sometimes do so at the expense of existing ones. A 2015 Customer Experience Index revealed that as few as 1 percent of all US companies deliver customer service that is rated as excellent, therefore missing an opportunity to turn existing customers into loyal advocates who generate new leads on their behalf.

4. Build a winning team

To put it simply: your team should be as strong as your overall business plan. Team building should be done in the initial stages of a business operation instead of as an afterthought. Moreover, it should guide the recruiting process to ensure that the personalities and skill set of team members are a perfect match to the company’s organizational culture. Don’t limit yourself to recruiting staff who have the right experience, but also look for those who enthusiastically share your vision and believe in your business concept. Read more »



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Ten Profitable Small Business Ideas for 2017

If you want to start or invest in a small business in the US today, there are literally millions of business ideas to choose from, so it’s a good idea to narrow your choices to a few profitable small business fields. Here is a list of the ten most profitable small business industries in the US, as of late 2016. Investing in or starting a small business in one of these sectors will hopefully give you a fairly high return on investment.

Specialized design: interior, industrial, graphic

The ability to create an attractive design, whether industrial or interior, can lead to a profitable career. Some specialized education may be required. Graphic and interior designers are in demand by other small businesses to help enhance and strengthen their image.  Industrial designers are sought out to improve the design, if not the function, of products. In today’s visually driven world, specialized design is among the most profitable small businesses.

Net profit margin: 11%

Consulting: technical, business, career

If you are an expert in your field and know how to help others succeed, consider a career as a consultant. Consulting services are always in demand, as every other kind of business needs advice and mentorship from time to time. Find or develop a niche and you have a nice profitable business that requires little overhead.

Net profit margin: 12%

Office administration and virtual assistant

Providing office and administrative assistance to other small companies is a niche small business that requires specialized knowledge, but not much overhead. These services are essential for most business owners. Offering the day to day paperwork management and record keeping, whether on site or at your own location, can be a profitable arrangement for both parties.

Net profit margin: 13% Read more »



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Holiday Season Preparations for Small Business Owners in the US

The holidays are approaching; is your small business ready for the Christmas season? As a business owner, you have much to consider during the holiday season. For some businesses, December is time to slow down and wrap up the end of the year; for other companies, the month of December puts the business under very high pressure to meet customer expectations and reach sales goals. Whichever type of business yours is, here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare your business for the holiday season.

Start Early

Long before the holiday season begins, you should be thinking of the concrete and specific steps you will need to take to prepare for the holidays. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Will you need to hire more staff for production?
  • More staff for packaging and shipping?
  • Will you need to downsize your staff?
  • Will you need to increase overtime hours?
  • Will you be giving gifts to clients? To employees?
  • Will you be hosting holiday events for clients or employees?

Some of these answers will indicate that your business needs to begin preparing for Christmas as early as June or July, while other answers will have you planning as late as the week of Christmas. Make lists, itemize, step by step, the things you need to do to prepare. A successful holiday season is often reliant on successful planning. Read more »



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What Businesses in the UK Need To Know About Preparing For Christmas

Christmas is a busy time of the year, and particularly so for business owners. This article covers a few important considerations that will help you plan ahead and make this time of the year less stressful and much more enjoyable -just as it should be.

Christmas 2016: Important dates to keep in mind
This year, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, with the 27th substituting as a Bank holiday. New Years Day falls on a Sunday, with Monday the 2nd of January substituting as the bank holiday.

Other important dates to keep in mind are the Post Office’s recommended last posting dates. Letters and / or packages sent via 1st class mail within the UK should be posted by Wednesday the 21st of December if they are to arrive before Christmas Day. Items send via 2nd class mail should be posted by Tuesday the 20th December. The last posting dates for international mail or packages vary depending on the country of destination. Bear in mind that some destinations have a last posting date as early as 4th December. Read more »



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Regeneration Projects: Northern Ireland, Wales & Scotland

Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast are all continuing to see significant investment in regeneration projects. Projects range from the redevelopment of city centre brownfield sites to massive waterfront regeneration projects that will span decades. Thanks to new investments in renewing the urban landscape of these regional economic centres, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from new employment and business opportunities in a number of sectors.

Scotland

Outside of London, Glasgow is the most important financial hub in the United Kingdom. It is also a top shopping destination and has seen an investment of over £6 billion since 2011 in infrastructure, offices, hotels, leisure, education, health, housing and retail according to the Regeneration Investment Organisation (RIO). With a gross development value of £2.7 billion, the Clyde Gateway in Glasgow is one of Scotland’s flagship regeneration projects. In addition to adding modern commercial and industrial spaces, the project features new leisure and residential development. Read more »



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Regeneration Projects: Southern England

London is the South of England’s largest and most important economic driver. The international financial hub is also a major European and global business destination. In the coming years, several regeneration projects will continue to reinforce the capital’s position as an economic powerhouse.

New Covent Garden Market

One such project is the New Covent Garden Market. In addition to developing up to 2,800 new homes, the £2 billion project will redevelop an estimated 115,000 square feet of commercial space. Construction on New Covent Garden began in 1971 and it opened in 1974 as the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market in the UK. Forty years later, the site is now being developed to provide a better experience for businesses and visitors. Once complete, the redeveloped New Covent Garden Market will serve as a gateway to Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea and the project will help transform the area as an exciting place to do business and live. Nearby developments include the new Embassy of the United States and the redevelopment of Battersea Power Generation. For more information go to brand.newcoventgardenmarket.com.

Silvertown

In East London, the Silvertown regeneration project at the Royal Docks area has the potential to add more than four million square feet of commercial spaces. The site could also see the addition of almost 3,000 new homes. Silverton is planned as a multi-phase project and the 25-hectare (62-acre) site has the potential development cost of £3.5 billion. It is already connected to leading commercial developments such as London City Airport and the Excel Centre and will be a five minute walk from the Custom House Crossrail station, which is scheduled to open in 2018. Silvertown includes Millennium Mills, a new home for 150 innovative businesses with flexible workspaces. For more information go to www.silvertownlondon.com. Read more »



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Top Cities to Start a Business: Tulsa, Oklahoma

For much of the twentieth century, Tulsa was known as the Oil Capital of the World. The city played an important role in the American oil industry until the decline of the industry led to a more diversified economy. Today, Tulsa’s economy is based on a number of sectors including energy, finance, aviation, telecommunications and technology. The city sits on the banks of the Arkansas River in the Green Country region at the foot of the Ozark Mountains. A major regional hub for art and culture, Tulsa is home to 403,505 people and is the second largest city in Oklahoma.

When looking at good locations to start a business, a number of factors come into play. These include access to resources such as financing and talent. Other factors include labor costs, standard of living, and affordability of office spaces. Tulsa benefits from many of these factors, making it one of the best places to do business in the country. In 2016, Tulsa ranked ninth in WalletHub’s annual ranking of the best large cities to start a business in the United States. The same study ranked the city fourth in terms of business costs, recognizing the city’s relatively low start-up, operating and labor costs. The city was also ranked among the top 50 cities by BusinessWeek in 2012.

Business and Infrastructure in Tulsa

Tulsa benefits from excellent infrastructure that supports new and established businesses alike. The Tulsa Port of Catoosa sits at the head of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. It is the most inland river port in the United States and provides access to international waterways, making it a vital connection to global markets. Tulsa International Airport also connects the area with major markets across the U.S., including Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Houston and other cities. Tulsa is also home to the University of Tulsa and Oral Roberts University, two top colleges that offer businesses a strong skilled talent and other resources. Approximately 67,540 college students live within 50 miles of Tulsa, which also has branches of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. Read more »



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