Is Your Company Registered on the State’s Business Directory

by: Michael Mastrangelo

Key Points:

I paid a visit to Michael Phillips of the Texas Department of Commerce this morning to look over some new features of their on-line service. Michael put together a good brief for services that could be valuable resources for Technology companies here in Austin. Julie Chase, Communications Specialist, Susan Tully, Senior Economist for the Trade and International Relations Office, and Jim Albright of the Business Development Office also attended.

Their new system is impressive, and a few features should be noted. You can go to their website and list your company free of charge. You can also load some graphics from your catalog to their On-line Marketplace. So far, about 10,000 Texas businesses are listed, and last month the Marketplace site got 286,000 hits. Potential customers can view your products, product descriptions, and ordering info right at the site. Just as an example, I asked Michael to do a search in the business directory database using the keywords ‘Austin’ and ‘Software’ and quite a few companies are already listed. In other words, you’re missing out on free advertising if you don’t sign up.

I asked Susan Tully if their office could do anything for the shortage of technically skilled workers that some Technology companies are facing here in Austin. She pointed to the ‘Smart Jobs’ section of their website. Companies need to apply for this program of matching grants that can be used for technical training for your current employees. A key feature of this program compared to other government sponsored jobs training programs is that this training is for jobs that already exist, and for skills that the employer identifies as the market demanding.

I posed a hypothetical scenario to the group–suppose a company with no prior experience called up and wanted to start exporting, say software to a foreign country, but had no idea how to get started. What could they do for that company. Michael called up another database that is available on the website free to users–International Trade Information. An alphabetical listing of countries appears, and the user can access current information about exporting to that country. There is also a hotlink to the U.S. Department of Commerce: National Trade Data Bank, which contains a wealth of information, including market research broken down by product category. The nice thing about this is that you would normally have to trudge to a University library, or SBA office to use this service. Here, it is free at your location over the internet.

Another program that may be of interest to Austin Technology companies is the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center. The bottom line on this program is that your company can get a free consultation with one of 63 field engineers on retooling your facility for the next century.

If you are a budding entrepreneur, but just don’t know how to get started setting up a business in Texas, you can call 1-800- 888-0511 for a packet of information that can get you started.

Rather than trying to write a comprehensive article on all of the services that are available through Texas’ Department of Commerce, I thought it might be more efficient to approach this asking the question–if I were a Technology Company here in Austin–Which of the services would be most helpful to me? By all means, check out their website for yourself, and explore it in some detail. Registering your company should be a simple one-step process. Julie Chase said that she would be happy to answer questions via email ([email protected]) The office has a policy of trying to respond to email requests within 24 hours. If you do try to register, or use the site, let me know what you think ([email protected]). Is the process smooth? Is it user-friendly? What improvements do you think are needed.