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Federal Government Handouts vs. State, Local and Private Investments


The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently released its 18-month investigation of the sheer waste of taxpayer dollars that was given to Solyndra, which completely and utterly failed just 48 months after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government. After that cash was wasted, Congress wasted more money on three subpoenas, five hearings and a review of over 300,000 documents. They came to the conclusion that it was a bad idea!

I recalled those facts from another Blaze article when writing this for my column. I thought since the left always likes to talk about potential, I might compare half a billion dollars that the federal government gave away and wasted on Solyndra, to a similar amount of money provided by state, local and private sources that looks like a success, and truly has the probability to help the country as a whole.

Texas is the 6th strongest state in biotechnology growth and capacity according to Business Facilities magazine in 2009, as the state has supported biotech business in Houston with $487 million in funds.

  • 300 million in funding to be awarded annually for each of the next 10 years by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Oversight Committee
  • $180 million allocation for research grants from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund
  • $7 million, 5-year Innovator Award from the U.S. Department of Defense Cancer Research Program recently awarded to the University of Texas Health Science Center

That’s great news on the job front and for the overall economy of Houston and Texas. Some of the top paying jobs in the biotech field are Biological Scientists at $43 an hour, Pharmacists at $52 an hour, Chemists at $41, with even the lower end job pay at a respectable $16 for Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians and $17 Medical Transcriptionists.

Large and small business can apply for the grants, though it is a long process with a great deal of effort for just a chance at being selected. In addition to having one of the strongest economies in the United States, Houston provides additional opportunities for small business in the way of office space and start-up help at a number of incubator sites around the region in addition to early-stage technology ventures with education, collaboration and research assistance. Small businesses are connected to biotech specialists at the University of Houston Center for Life Sciences Technology, Texas Medical Center, Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, BioHouston and Houston Technology Center.

You might note the word technology in many of these titles, but again the realist in me has to ask, how does biotech help the average person? Technology transfer.

“Houston has a well-developed infrastructure with a track record of successfully transferring technology developed at area research institutions to the private sector. There are dozens of proven resources that can help your organization leverage the commercial value of research advances”  from the Greater Houston Partnership, houston.org. If you have an idea for a biotech company you would be hard press to find a friendlier more supportive place than Houston to set up shop! Houston's support of this industry spurs the economy and benefits the community, without needing the federal government to pick winners and losers.

The answer to who might benefit the country more is clear. With the funds spread over many different opportunities, particularly as example in the medical and biotech field in Houston, the chances of seeing a return on your  investment is many times more likely than giving a huge check to one green company.

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