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June/July 2010 – Web Exclusive

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Super Bowl Brings
Super Bucks

North Texas has circled Feb. 6, 2011 on its calendar as it prepares for Super Bowl XLV — and its estimated $612 million in economic activity.

“Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant Counties represent the largest metropolitan area to host the Super Bowl in 17 years,” says North Texas Host Committee President & CEO Bill Lively. “The sheer size of the stadium and the region, and the Host Committee’s yearlong slate of events, are new elements in the Super Bowl equation that are driving economic growth.”

According to a study from Marketing Information Masters Inc., a total of 147,000 out-of-state visitors and 584,000 in-state, out-of-market visitors could visit the area during Super Bowl week.

More information on Superbowl XLV and its economic impact is available online.

(Tracey Lamphere)

Texas Apartment Rentals Gaining Ground

The Texas apartment rental market seems to be gaining strength. San Antonio-area apartment rental rates increased by 1.5 percent between the first quarters of 2009 and 2010, the third-fastest increase in the U.S., according to Reis Inc., a real estate research firm. Austin ranked seventh over the same period.

In April, ALN Apartment Data listed Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas and Amarillo among the nation’s fastest-improving markets. Austin ranked first among 23 markets surveyed, with a 2.5 annual increase in occupancy rates that boosted total occupancy to 89.7 percent. Fort Worth saw a 1.8 percent increase in overall occupancy in the first three months of 2010, and a $4-to-$6 rise in average rental rates.

Despite an overflowing apartment market, with more than new 9,000 units under construction, the Dallas area also has seen improvements. Occupancy rates increased by 1 percent in early 2010, while average rental rates increased by $8 to $9.

(Tracey Lamphere)

Big Bend Gets Stimulus Boost

Big Bend National Park will get a $10.5 million facelift, thanks to federal stimulus funding.

The funds will be used to maintain the park’s 123 miles of paved roads, rehabilitate historic officers’ quarters and repair infrastructure damaged by flooding.

Big Bend’s share is part of $129 million made available to 30 high-priority National Park Service projects. Other stimulus funding awards to Texas parks include $103,000 for rehabilitation of sewer, septic and potable water systems at Mission Espada in San Antonio; $208,000 for removal of debris along the shoreline of Amistad National Recreational Area; $309,000 for trail rehabilitation and upgrades to the Guadalupe Mountains Park Visitors Center; and $46,000 for preservation of a historic brick oven at Fort Davis National Historic Site.

For a complete listing of national park stimulus projects by state, visit the Department of the Interior Recovery Investments.

(Karen Hudgins)

Fast Track to an M.D.

In an effort to chip away at a national shortage of physicians, Texas Tech Health Science Center (TTUHSC) has launched the first three-year medical degree approved by the nationally recognized accrediting authority for medical education.

The new Family Medicine Accelerated Track (FMAT) program will let primary-care students at the TTUHSC School of Medicine complete their degree in three years, at half the cost of the standard four-year program.

“There are not enough doctors going into primary care,” says Dr. Michael Ragain, Braddock chair of the TTUHSC Department of Family and Community Medicine.

The high cost of medical school and resulting debt are challenging for many medical students, Ragain says, leading many to pursue the higher salaries typically earned by specialists.

Texas Tech’s new program shortens medical school by one year and aims to cut debts incurred for medical school almost in half.

“They are paying for three years of medical school vs. four,” Ragain says. “We also have scholarship support. It’s very close to a half-price medical education.”

Texas Tech’s FMAT curriculum cuts one year of study by spreading course-work throughout the summers and cutting elective requirements. The TTUHSC School of Medicine will begin accepting students from the incoming class this summer. The program plans to enroll 10 to 12 students a year. Interest in the program is high, Ragain says.

More information on Texas Tech’s FMAT program is available online.

(Karen Hudgins)

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