North Texas Daily

Denton sees growth in technology companies

Denton sees growth in technology companies

Denton sees growth in technology companies
November 20
08:37 2013

Javier Navarro / Staff Writer

The city of Denton has seen an increase in the number of technology-based companies in recent years. Part of the reason for the growth has to do with the college students in the city.

The Progressive Policy Institute identified America’s top 25 high-tech hotspots several weeks ago, where Denton County ranked number six.

Denton city council member Kevin Roden said the city itself has become an attractive spot for tech-based companies because of the city’s creative culture. He said Denton is the type of city tech companies are looking for to start-up in and students are the driving force of creativity.

“If you think about it, we have 48,000 college students coming in through Denton from UNT or [Texas Women’s University], so we’ve got people ready to go,” Roden said. “Students just add creativity and fresh ideas every year because you’re constantly bringing in new folks. It’s like a stream coming in and it’s new water every year.”

The city has a variety of tech-based companies including creative tech firms such as social media firms, film tech and music tech companies, Roden said. He also said education tech companies are common in the city.

John Kuruvilla, professor and associate dean of research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering, said the college is one of the fastest growing at UNT and offers one of the best disciplines in the technology field.

Kuruvilla also said the growing number of tech jobs available in Denton is one of the reasons why some students decide to stay after graduation.

“Undergraduate students are coming into an accredited engineering program, so they’re using that and leveraging that to go forward into the job market,” Kuruvilla said. “The job market is robust, so almost every one of our graduates coming out to the job market is working for the energy sector, the tech sector or working for the software sector.”

Alumni of the College of Engineering are also getting jobs in national tech companies such as Microsoft and Dell, Kuruvilla said.

Roden said while the growth of the tech industry in the city is exciting, the city doesn’t have a plan to capitalize on these opportunities in the future, which is something he’s trying to change.

“If you look at our strategic plan for economic development, it includes a number of areas – things we’ve really worked hard to get,” Roden said. “But this tech field is not on the target list, because it was created 10 years ago. I’m arguing that we need to update this, and we need to figure out the leverage that we have.”

Aimee Bissett, director of Denton economic development, said the city is looking for ways to promote the city as a high-tech spot so more companies are aware of what the city has to offer.

“We’re looking at providing free Wi-Fi in our entire central business district and exploring new technologies that help businesses navigate our development processes,” Bissett said.

Mike Christian started a video game development company five years ago called Jovian Minds. He said the company develops games for mobile platforms and consoles.

Jovian Minds was originally located in Lewisville, but moved to Denton about two years ago, Christian said.

“There’s a lot of creativity here, and there’s something always going on of a creative nature here,” Christian said. “It just has a really good vibe and just The Square itself is very unique, it’s not like a cookie-cutter template of other towns.”

He also said the company is self-funded and only has seven people working, but he said with the tech industry growing, he’s excited about the direction the company and the city is going.

“We’re really excited to see the emerging community. It’s fun to be what I consider to be the beginning of Denton being a technological powerhouse,” Christian said. “It’s always nice to be a part of something that’s big. I really don’t see many other communities probably even in the state that’s anywhere near [Denton’s] level.”

Feature photo: CEO and director of Art at Jovian Minds Joey Bryant works on an animated elf for their next tablet and iPhone based game. He spends anywhere between one week to two months to create video game artwork. Photo by Fey Sandoval / Staff Photographer 

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