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Texas Business Report: RadioShack Gets Back in the Game

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Proposition Transitions Emissions Permissions to Commission, with Conditions

Permitting for greenhouse gas emissions in Texas is back under the authority of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted it that power on Tuesday. The transition was the result of prolonged negotiations amid “a long, often bitter battle” between Texas and the EPA, which intensified when the state refused to comply with new federal emissions regulations in 2010, “placing some of the nation’s largest refineries in operational limbo,” the Associated Press reports.

The EPA took over the permitting process the following year, and state legislators pushed back in 2013 by passing a law reaffirming the TCEQ’s authority to manage the greenhouse emissions program. The ensuing standoff eventually led to this week’s compromise, which federal regulators will “periodically review.”

The Bottom Line: The agreement requires Texas to “establish appropriate emission thresholds” and give up its efforts to introduce a hearing process and a six-month limit on permit turnaround times, according to the AP. Now that the permitting program is back under state control, the TCEQ will work through a backlog of about eighty permits awaiting approval. 

Schwab This Way

The San Francisco Business Times reported this week that financial broker Charles Schwab intends to move “a significant number” of jobs—as many as 1,000, per some estimates—to Texas and other states from its San Francisco headquarters within three to five years. A company spokesman said the decision was based on “the high cost of doing business and cost of living in the Bay Area, as well as our ability to recruit talent in this highly competitive labor market.”

Schwab, which says its headquarters will remain in San Francisco, is expanding in Texas, Colorado, and other states that offer tax incentives for creating jobs. Last year the firm opened a large new campus in Denver that employs about 2,200 people, sparking rumors that it could someday relocate its HQ to the city.

The Bottom Line: Governor Rick Perry responded positively to the news on social media, tweeting that it “looks like more California jobs coming to Texas.” Several of his constituents were less receptive to another wave of West Coasters, replying to Perry’s tweet with anti-California sentiments including: “I just hope the #CA #Progressives don’t come with the jobs”; “This will change the votes in TX”; and “They ruin one state and take over another.”

The Furr’s Cut is the Deepest

Severe winter weather may have been the last straw for the Plano-based owner of Furr’s Fresh Buffet, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. Buffet Partners LP said in court documents that the ice storms that swept across the state in December caused “a significant loss in guest count and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost profit,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The cafeteria chain had fallen into financial hardship even before the cold snap, “crunched for cash by an effort to overhaul its restaurants,” according to the Journal. In the bankruptcy filing, Buffet Partners admitted to having “already tenuous liquidity and … no available line of credit” in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, which “impacted the company’s ability to finance growth and improvements.” The company’s debt load now stands at more than $40 million.

The Bottom Line: Six Furr’s locations recently closed, but Buffet Partners says the remaining 29 restaurants in Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma will stay open through bankruptcy proceedings, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Winner of the Week: Radio Shack

RadioShack may have posted a net loss of $112 million last quarter, but the Fort Worth-based electronics retailer scored points with TV audiences this week for a Super Bowl ad that spoofs the company’s outdated image. Featuring an all-star cast of eighties C-list icons including Hulk Hogan, Alf, and Erik Estrada, the 30-second spot was The Shack’s first foray into Super Bowl advertising in about a decade, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Forbes declared the commercial—which was produced by Austin ad agency GSD&M—“one of the best Super Bowl ads of 2014,” and the Wall Street Journal followed suit, dubbing it “one of the big winners” of the night. Investors agreed, boosting the 93-year-old company’s stock by as much as seventeen percent Monday morning on the way to a three percent gain by the end of the day.

Loser of the Week: PFP Enterprises

Fort Worth meat processing company PFP Enterprises recalled nearly eight tons of beef this week, warning consumers that the products may have been exposed to E. coli bacteria. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the company failed to finish testing about 15,900 pounds of meat (mostly fajita beef and skirt steak) after preliminary tests indicated possible contamination, according to The Fort Worth Star Telegram. Health officials say the tainted beef carries a “high health risk,” but no cases of food poisoning have been reported thus far. PFP shipped the beef in December to undisclosed restaurants and retailers in Texas, Arizona, Puerto Rico, and Oklahoma.

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