The Texas economy is one of the most robust in the world. Wildly profitable companies and ingenious entrepreneurs call this state home, and what happens here influences businesses around the nation. Here’s a slice of the profits, losses, big deals, and backroom decisions happening across Texas this week.
Cuban Judicial Crisis
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is back in federal court this month, hoping to get an insider-trading lawsuit against him thrown out. Businessweek reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission has “accused him of making illegal trades in shares of Internet search company Mamma.com Inc. in June 2004 based on inside information from its then-chief executive officer.
The suit, first filed in 2008, was dismissed in 2009 and then reinstated on appeal a year later. Cuban filed his most recent protest last July.
The Bottom Line: The SEC isn’t the only organization reaching into Cuban’s pockets. Earlier this month, the NBA fined the Mavs owner $50,000 for complaining about NBA referees on Twitter. In the tweet, Cuban said he’s “tried for 13 yrs to fix the officiating in this league and I have failed miserably.” While that may not seem like a very steep penalty for a billionaire, The Dallas Morning News estimates that Cuban has been fined about $2 million by the league in his 13 years with the team, “mostly as a result of comments about officiating.”
Port of the Solution
Despite ongoing labor concerns, the Port of Houston is expected to prosper in the next few years. According to a new Greater Houston Port Bureau report presented this week, the region “should expect to see $35 billion spent in capital and maintenance investments and an additional 111,000 construction jobs” from 2012 through 2015, the Houston Business Journal reports.
The bureau surveyed 132 companies located along the channel, many of which indicated that they are “planning on investing heavily in improvements.”
The Bottom Line: Among the companies looking to expand are Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, which plans to “invest $170 million to grow its terminal network and alleviate congestion,” and Targa Resources Partners LP, which will spend $25 million on a new property that will help it ramp up exports, according to the HBJ.
The Right to Booze
Restaurant owners (and drinkers) in Irving are raising their glasses this week after city leaders voted Thursday to ease decades-old restrictions on alcohol sales. Under the previous ordinance, alcohol could account for no more than 40 percent of a restaurant’s annual sales, but following this week’s vote, that cap increases to 50 percent for most of the city, The Dallas Morning News reports. In the city’s urban core, the limit was increased even more, to 70 percent.
The Bottom Line: Many restaurant owners and developers believed the old restrictions were bad for business and curbed their ability to draw new visitors and residents to the area. However, some Irving homeowners are worried that increasing alcohol sales “would flood the city with bars, prostitutes, drunken drivers and murders.”
Winners of the Week: Austin Job Seekers
Austin’s strong job market received yet another national recognition this week, taking the top spot on the “Best Cities for Job Seekers” list compiled by the finance website NerdWallet.com. The capital city earned its No. 1 ranking because it recorded a faster population growth and lower unemployment rate than any of the 25 other cities on the list, thanks in part to plentiful “jobs in the burgeoning tech industry.”
Loser of the Week: MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is among several research organizations that could be affected by a new proposal that would “phase out more than 600 chimpanzees from federally funded research,” the Houston Business Journal reports. The Houston-based healthcare provider operates the Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research in Bastrop, which houses 167 primates.
The center, which is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, would have to give up all but 50 of its chimps within the next three years, according to the HBJ. The announcement comes on the heels of an NIH report that “came to the conclusion that most current medical research on chimps is no longer necessary.”