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November 2009

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Green Partners in Texas

Texas companies and governments ranked high on the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) October ranking of top “Green Power Partners” – organizations that purchase the most power from renewable sources.

Fourth, fifth and sixth on the list, respectively, are Austin-based Whole Foods Market, Round Rock’s Dell Inc. and the city of Houston, which acquire power from wind, solar and biogas sources. The city of Dallas ranked 12th, while Wal-Mart Stores’ Texas and California facilities shared the 15th slot.

Participants in the EPA Green Power Partnership are credited for renewable power purchased from a utility or generated on site, or for the purchase of renewable energy certificates, a tradable commodity that encourages the production of green energy.

(Bruce Wright)

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Texas Hospitals Among America’s Best

A recent U.S. News and World Report ranking of the nation’s best hospitals features several prominent Texas medical institutions.

Most notably, Methodist Hospital in Houston appeared at number 20 on the publication’s Honor Roll, which featured 21 hospitals with high scores in six or more specialties.

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center was ranked as the nation’s best hospital for its specialty.

Read the entire U.S. News and World Report Honor Roll, which includes a list of best hospitals by specialty.

(Michael Castellon)


The October 2009 Fiscal Notes article “Home By Any Other Name” has been revised.

Texas Banks Faring Better than Nation’s

Texas banks continue to fare better than others across the nation, according to a report from Sheshunoff & Co. Investment Banking, an Austin-based financial consulting firm.

The average profitability of Texas banks declined in the second quarter of 2009, to a return on average assets of 0.69 percent, but this was well above the national average of 0.49 percent. Virtually all banks reported lower profitability in the second quarter, due to a special assessment levied by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metropolitan statistical areas were the only Texas cities with bank profitability rankings below the national median.

“We’re feeling the effects of the national recession, but we are faring much better than many parts of the country,” says John Blaylock, associate director of Sheshunoff & Co.

After surviving the financial crisis of the 1980s, Texas banks have gained strength from the state’s diverse economy, Blaylock says, including significant business in energy, health care and agriculture.

“The economy of the state has grown immensely, and the state has benefited from that,” Blaylock says. “We still have the influx of population. We have a fairly diverse economy. Energy is still a very significant part of the economy and it’s doing OK. We have the best medical facilities in the world.”

How will Texas banks fare in the future? The strength and speed of the national recovery and continued stabilization in the credit markets will determine how well Texas banks will perform, according to Blaylock.

Read the report “Texas Banks Exceed National Median in Profitability.”


Texas Counties Tops in Job Growth

The 6 counties are Rockwall, Fort Bend, Williamson, Collin, Hidalgo and Webb.

Six Texas counties appeared on’s list of the nation’s Top 25 counties for job growth between 2000 and 2008.

Rockwall County ranked second nationally, with an 84.9 percent increase in job growth over the eight-year period. The Web site credits population spillover from Dallas and a strong business environment for the county’s boom in opportunities.

Also appearing on the list was Fort Bend County, at number six. Williamson, Collin, Hidalgo and Webb counties also appeared in the survey.

(Michael Castellon)

Texas leads Nation in Housing affordability

Texas leads the nation in housing affordability, according to second-quarter 2009 numbers compiled by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

The Housing Affordability Index reflects the ability of a median-income family to purchase homes in their area. It represents the ratio of median family income to the income needed to qualify for an 80 percent, fixed-rate mortgage on a median-priced home. The higher the ratio, the more affordable housing is.

Texas had a ratio of 1.85 in second-quarter 2009, compared with the nation’s 1.57. Austin had a ratio of 1.84; Dallas, 2.04; Houston, 1.94; and San Antonio had a ratio of 1.83 for the second quarter.

A total of 19,884 existing single-family homes were sold in Texas in August 2009, representing a 12 percent decrease from August 2008, according to data compiled by the Real Estate Center.

The median price dropped by 1 percent to $150,400 during the same period, and the state finished the month with a 7.5-month inventory of existing homes.

(Karen Hudgins)

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