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September 2009

by Editorial Staff

Brief Bytes

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Texas Cities On the Move

Texas was home to four of the nation’s 10 fastest-growing large cities (those with more than 100,000 residents) in the year ending on July 1, 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Texas had the most cities of any state on the list. Round Rock was the second fastest-growing city between 2007 and 2008.

Other Texas cities on the list include McKinney, fifth on the list; Killeen, ranking ninth; and Fort Worth, ranking 10th.

(Michael Castellon)

North Texas Best Place to Live

Two North Texas communities made the top 25 on CNNMoney’s annual list of best places to live in the U.S.

Keller, with a population of 38,100 and an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, ranked seventh. CNNMoney praised the Fort Worth suburb’s home values – which rose by 6 percent in 2008 – and healthy economy. FedEx, Fidelity Investments and travel company Sabre Holdings have major offices there. The Keller Town Center district and abundant park amenities also were noted as assets. These and other factors have helped Keller’s population triple since 1990.

Photo courtesy of the city of Keller

Mansfield, with 44,100 residents, ranked 24th on the list. Touting Mansfield as the “definition of family-friendly,” CNNMoney praised its annual art fair, music festival and holiday parade. It’s also home to the Hawaiian Falls water park and Big League Dreams Sports Park.

Other Texas cities that ranked in the top 100 include Friendswood (32nd), Schertz (39th), Georgetown (45th) and Hewitt (46th).

CNNMoney’s annual list ranks U.S. small towns based on their economies, home values, public schools, unemployment rates, crime rates and amenities that enrich the quality of life.

(Karen Hudgins)

Construction Takes A Hit

Texas construction starts are expected to fall by 21 percent in calendar 2009, according to a recent report by McGraw-Hill Construction.

The 2009 Texas Construction Outlook: Mid-Summer Update estimates that Texas construction starts will fall to $49.8 billion by the end of the year. The projected losses are due to the credit crisis and global recession as well as the winding down of recovery construction prompted by Hurricane Ike, according to the report.

On the other hand, the report indicates that non-building construction — including roads and bridges — will see 12 percent growth for 2009, thanks largely to federal stimulus funding.

To read the latest recovery news, visit A Texas Eye on the Dollars.

(Michael Castellon)

Small Business Loves Texas

The Lone Star State managed to gain small businesses last year despite the recession, according to a July report by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy.

In 2008, the number of self-employed workers in Texas rose nearly 2 percent to 1.1 million, while the number of self-employed workers nationwide fell 2 percent to 15.9 million. The number of small employer firms in Texas rose 1.4 percent to 449,681, while the U.S. count remained flat at 6.1 million.

The 2009 edition of The Small Business Economy: A Report to the President, reviews the economic environment for small businesses in 2008, including federal procurement and the financing marketplace.

The Dallas SBA district office is seeing increased activity in small-business lending, says Liz Klimback, executive director of the North Texas Small Business Center. Dallas SBA has seen a 200 percent increase in lending over the last year, placing it second for SBA lending nationwide, Klimback says. Nationwide SBA lending is up 40 percent over last year.

“With the layoffs and with some of the companies downsizing, we are seeing more and more people interested in starting up a homegrown or home-owned business,” Klimback says. “It’s going to continue. Small businesses are the ones that are creating the jobs.”

In Texas, more businesses opened their doors in 2008 than in the year before, but closings and bankruptcies also rose. The number of new businesses rose by 2 percent in 2008, while closings jumped by 8.4 percent and bankruptcies rose by 26 percent.

(Karen Hudgins)

Texas Cities Among Nation’s Most Undervalued

Houston and Bryan-College Station are among the nation’s 10 most “undervalued” places to live, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The report, “America’s 10 Best Undervalued Places to Live,” points to a relatively healthy real estate market, low taxes and projected job and population growth.

US News, Two of the 10 Best!

The study relies on data from IHS Global Insight’s first-quarter 2009 House Prices in America report, which calculates household income, population density and other data to compare a market’s value.

(Michael Castellon)

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