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May 2009


by Editorial Staff

Brief Bytes

Texas Racks Up Four Energy Star Awards

Four major Texas cities appeared on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of the top 25 cities with the most Energy Star qualified buildings in 2008.

Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio were among the 25 metropolitan areas on the list. Houston was third on the list with a total of 145 buildings and a cost savings of $70.6 million. Dallas ranked fifth with 126 buildings; Austin, 13th with 77 buildings; while San Antonio ranked 16th with 56 buildings.

“Texas is big into Energy Star and it has certainly helped with creating jobs and increasing energy awareness,” says Patrick Kelly, the Region Six liaison for the EPA’s Climate Protection Program office.

Texas’ Energy Star certified and labeled buildings had total savings of $130.7 million.

To learn more about energy conservation funding and incentives in Texas, visit the State Energy Conservation Office at www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us.

(Toree Roy)

UT Vice Provost Says Education Needs To Be Work Force Relevant

Courses that provide students with quantitative and scientific skills that directly articulate with work force training programs need to be made more widely available in Texas, says Harrison Keller, University of Texas vice provost for higher education and research.

“I think the Comptroller is exactly right calling for a new strategic vision in the way we approach these issues,” Keller says. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve been focused to adding rigor to our curriculum. Where we need to go is how we have rigorous courses that are relevant to student’s interest.

“We’ve been focused on traditional math and science course options,” Keller says. “What’s been notably missing are courses that focus on skills that are relevant to our work force needs.”

Visit www.t2summit.org to watch video of Harrison Keller discussing education and the Texas work force.

(Gerard MacCrossan)

Texas Still The Best for Business

With unemployment rates rising across the nation, CEOs still rate Texas as the best place to do business.

Texas maintained its top spot on Chief Executive magazine’s annual ranking for the fourth year in a row. The magazine’s “Best and Worst States” survey asked 543 CEOs to evaluate their states on a broad range of issues, including proximity to resources, regulation, tax policies, education, quality of living and infrastructure. CEOs were also asked to grade each state based on taxation and regulation, work force quality and living environment.

Texas earned first place rankings for its transportation and economy. The state’s access to capital and its technology and innovation also earned praise in the survey.

Following Texas as the best states to do business were North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. For the fourth year in a row, California and New York ranked as the worst and second worst states to do business. Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts followed as the worst states for business.

For more information or to read the complete survey, visit Chief Executive magazine at www.chiefexecutive.net.

(Karen Hudgins)

Texas Tourism Stays Strong

The state’s hotel occupancy tax is expected to grow by just 1.9 percent in the 2010-2011 biennium and may decline in fiscal 2009, but Texas remains a popular destination even in a sluggish economy.

According to the Comptroller’s office, at the end of February 2009, $173 million in hotel occupancy taxes had been collected, ahead of the $169 million collected in the same period ending in February 2008.

Texas destinations and their host cities often offer incentives to travelers, including free meals, accommodations and gas cards.

“With summer travel coming, you’ll see a whole different type of packaging coming out with more family-oriented offers,” says Julie Chase, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism (EDT).

Orders for the printed Texas State Travel Guide also have increased by almost 60 percent through February 2009. International orders for the guide have increased by more than 260 percent.

Travel package listings and more information on Texas destinations are available on the EDT’s Web site at www.traveltex.com.

(Clint Shields)

Welcome to Texas - Population Growing

Urban Populations Boomed in 2008

The Austin-Round Rock area was the nation’s second-fastest growing metro area between 2007 and 2008, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Austin-Round Rock population rose by an estimated 3.8 percent between July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2008, reaching a total of about 1.7 million. The Austin area ranked second behind Raleigh-Cary, N.C., which grew by 4.3 percent.

In terms of numeric growth, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston ranked first and second nationally in 2008, adding 147,000 and 130,000 residents, respectively.

The Census Bureau also reported that Texas led the nation in terms of county population growth between 2007 and 2008, with 19 of the 100 fastest-growing counties, more than any other state.

For more information, visit the U.S. Census Bureau.

(Bruce Wright)

Texas Home to a Quarter of the U.S. Mexican-Origin Population

Texas is one of just two U.S. states in which persons of Mexican origin make up more than a quarter of the total population, a recent Census Bureau report notes.

In 2007, Texas had 7.28 million residents of Mexican origin, a total second only to California’s 10.97 million. Texas’ Mexican-origin population accounted for 24.9 percent of the U.S. total.

For more information, visit the U.S. Census Bureau’s Web site at www.census.gov.

(Bruce Wright)

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