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Posts under ‘Bidness’

Revisiting the Texas-Amazon sales tax deal

The Statesman looks back and concludes it was a pretty good deal all around. In 2012, the state rolled the dice on a controversial deal with e-commerce giant Amazon.com. To end a two-year battle, Texas said it would drop a $269 million sales tax bill due from the Seattle-based company in exchange for an incentive […]

Bridal Extravaganza happily adjusts to a same-sex marriage world

Love is love, and business is business. Vendors in the industry, from florists to caterers, are seeing a bumper crop of same-sex Texas weddings. “I think there’s going to be some pent-up demand, and that’s exciting,” said Laurette Veres, Bridal Extravaganza producer. In Texas, same-sex weddings could generate at least $182 million in total spending […]

Who’s afraid of a little climate change?

We should be in Texas, but we’re not. Texas probably will see a sharp increase in heat-related deaths and coastal storm-related losses in the coming decades if nothing is done to mitigate a changing climate, according to a new study commissioned by a bipartisan group of prominent policymakers and company executives aiming to spawn concern […]

Abbott sides with auto dealers

Sorry, Tesla. Giving a nod to long-established franchised auto dealerships, Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas doesn’t need to carve out a loophole in its laws that would allow Tesla to sell its high-end electric cars directly to consumers. “Texas has a very robust, very open, very effective automobile sector that seems like it’s working quite […]

The wedding industry is rubbing its hands with glee

Nothing like having your market dramatically expanded overnight. Within hours after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in Texas and across the country, local wedding businesses and venues already began getting orders and bookings from same-sex couples. Those in the wedding industry said they expect a surge of gay couples who were hoping to marry […]

Nothing but not-so-good-times ahead

Maybe if everyone chants “This time is different than the 80s!” loudly enough it will have the talismanic effect we all hope it will. For five years, a domestic oil boom has created a bounty of high-paying jobs and a general climate of prosperity here. But as the rest country starts to see signs of […]

Use less, pay more

Ain’t utility deregulation grand? More than 70 percent of electric plans offered in the Houston area contain terms that may penalize customers who don’t use a certain amount of power, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of more than 300 plans available in early January. NRG and other companies with plans that include the fees […]

The LGBT Wedding Expo

I love stories like this. The Houston LGBT Wedding Expo at the Galleria-area JW Marriott, which was hosted by the North Carolina-based Rainbow Wedding Network, showcased venues and companies marketing to the growing number of same-sex couples. With the LGBT community gaining visibility and gay-marriage bans toppling in several states, wedding events and services for […]

No gigafactory for Texas

They’re going to Nevada. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval announced Thursday that Tesla Motors will build a massive battery factory in the state as long as legislators approve tax breaks and other incentives worth up to $1.3 billion over 20 years. Sandoval revealed terms of the deal he negotiated with the electric car maker at a […]

It’s a great time to be a construction worker

For most people, anyway. On a conference call earlier this month, the president of Houston-based developer Camden Property Trust described what it’s like building apartments in markets where construction is booming and skilled workers are in short supply. “It’s a catfight to get subcontractors to fully staff at your jobs,” said D. Keith Oden. He […]

AirBnB in Houston

When people talk about “the sharing economy” for good or ill, the main players that get named tend to be Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB. We’ve heard a lot about the first two in Houston lately, but prior to this Chron story I can’t say I’d heard anything about the latter. Airbnb launched in 2009 as […]

More on the Postal Service as financial service provider

I still think it’s a good idea, and so do a lot of other people. The Postal Banking Consumer Survey [PDF] asked more than 1,600 consumers, many of whom do not have access to traditional banking services, whether or not USPS should enter the banking arena. Most consumers, about 63%, reported that the addition of […]

CFPB makes its presence felt in Texas

Good for them. Texas-based payday lender ACE Cash Express has agreed to pay $10 million to settle allegations by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that it used harassment and other illegal tactics to push borrowers into a cycle of debt. Under the agreement, the company, one of the nation’s largest payday lenders, will pay […]

Good times for the craft brewers

There’s a lot more growth to come for the craft brewing industry. Texas’ smaller craft breweries increased production last year by nearly half and made deeper gains in the overall beer market, suggesting the industry’s growth spurt will continue. “Yes, this is a long-term trend,” said Charles Vallhonrat, executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers […]

It’s not Tesla that’s asking for special treatment

A couple of auto dealers take to the op-ed pages to argue that up is in fact down. The motor vehicle franchise laws in place do not in any way hinder innovation; instead they foster the competition that benefits consumers. One motor vehicle manufacturer, Tesla Motors, has been seeking an exemption from the franchise laws […]

Retail medical clinics

I for one think they’re a good idea. Here’s a prescription for pediatricians fighting to keep easy-to-treat, well-paying patients: Expand after-hours and weekend services to serve desperate parents in search of quick remedies for their kids’ late-night sore throats and upset tummies. Otherwise, parents will continue choosing the closest CVS, Walgreens or H-E-B clinic. With […]

Uber uber alles

Very interesting. Uber rolled out a new service in Manhattan [last] Tuesday that foreshadows the five-year-old company’s plans to become much more than a platform for e-hailing taxi and town car rides. Now, with UberRUSH, the company is piloting a bike and ped-courier service designed to move stuff, rather than people. For at least $15 […]

Regulating Bitcoin in Texas

Bitcoin regulations. We have ’em. Texas will not treat Bitcoin and other virtual currencies as legal money, according to a new memo from the Texas Department of Banking. Yet some companies that deal in Bitcoin transactions could draw state oversight, even if they are based outside of Texas. Texas Banking Commissioner Charles Cooper issued a memo this month […]

Tesla’s stealth visit to San Antonio

May mean something, or it may not. A pair of executives from Tesla Motors Inc., the electric carmaker that’s scouting a location for its planned $5 billion “gigafactory,” secretly met here Wednesday with top city and county officials, a person close to the discussion said. The meeting came less than a week after the San […]

No more wobbly tables!

I love this story. A Houston businessman has an idea that could rid the world of having to use drink coasters and napkins to stabilize restaurant tables. Steve Christian, owner of Houston burger institution Christian’s Tailgate Bar and Grill, believes so strongly in his invention that he sold interest in two of his restaurants, spent […]

Craft beer: Still good for your economy

Yet another study says so. Texas ranks second only to California in the economic impact derived from craft brewing, a report from the Brewers Association says. This burgeoning class of smaller, independently owned craft breweries, along with their distributors, retailers and bar/restaurant workers, added $2.3 billion to the Texas economy in 2012, the report says. […]

One thing Wal-Mart could be good for

They could wreak havoc on payday lenders. Raj Date says that with modern data analysis banks could offer payday loans on much less extortionate terms. Felix Salmon retorts that banks don’t actually want to do business with poor people unless they can scrape them for high fees. Otherwise the costs of dealing with the accounts […]

Amazon fulfills its end of the deal with Texas

Good to see. Nine months after it struck a deal with the state to bring thousands of jobs and invest millions of dollars in Texas, online retail giant Amazon.com on Wednesday unveiled the first steps toward keeping its end of the bargain. Amazon said Wednesday it will build three fulfillment centers in Texas, creating about […]

I’ll continue to demonize the payday lending industry, thanks

Lawrence Meyers, a shill for the payday lending industry, has a sad. [Loren] Steffy claims in his blog post (“Will lawmakers finally rein in paydayl lenders,” chron.com) that PDLs are “inherently predatory,” yet a loan cannot be predatory if choices exist, and a person enters into a transaction via free will, with terms and pricing […]

Amazon comes to Schertz

Hello, Schertz! After about six months of negotiations, this city, the Schertz Economic Development Corp. and Guadalupe County have approved about $7.6 million in direct tax incentives to land a $166 million distribution warehouse for Amazon.com. The 1.26 million-square-foot warehouse, called a fulfillment center, will become the largest facility in Schertz and Guadalupe County, Schertz […]

No smokers need apply

Boy, is this a big can of worms. Methodist Hospital System in Houston this month announcedit will implement a tobacco-free hiring policy on Jan. 1, joining the Texas Medical Center and Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, which have had similar policies since last year and 2010, respectively. The policies are straightforward. Applicants who smoke or chew […]

Amazon wine

You may soon be able to order wine from Amazon.com, depending on where you live. Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -0.88% is planning an online marketplace for wine sales directly to consumers, said executives for several California wineries, marking the Seattle Web giant’s second foray into the business in three years. Amazon hosted a workshop [last week] […]

Janitors win new contract

I’m very glad for them. Janitors who clean some of the largest office buildings in Houston have reached a tentative agreement with six of the city’s largest cleaning companies, a union representative said late Wednesday. The deal is expected to bring an end to a heated labor dispute that began after the janitors’ last contract […]

We better hope Amazon sticks to its deal with Texas

Remember that deal Amazon made with the state to start charging sales tax here and to commit to creating 2,500 jobs in return for having back taxes forgiven? Apparently, there’s not much in the deal to make them regret it if they don’t hold up their end of the bargain. Amazon.com Inc. didn’t risk much […]

Amazon starts collecting sales tax today

We are in a new era. Beginning Sunday, Texans will see state and local sales taxes show up on their taxable Amazon purchases — the result of a deal with the state comptroller’s office that resolved the e-commerce giant’s past tax liabilities with the state in exchange for the sales tax collections, the creation of […]

Wage theft

Any employer that would do this is scum. [Wage theft] reflects a changing economy in which low-wage work has increased, more companies try to cut labor costs to stay afloat in a sour business climate, and fewer workers belong to unions that might protect them. At the same time, budget-cutting state and federal governments do […]

Is the Amazon deal with the state legal?

The Statesman raises a great question about the settlement deal between Amazon and the state of Texas that will get the online retailer to start collecting sales taxes in Texas while forgiving back taxes the state says it owes. But is it legal? Austin lawyer Buck Wood, a tax attorney and a former deputy comptroller […]

Amazon settles up with Texas

Good. Amazon.com will start collecting sales taxes from Texas customers this summer and agreed to make capital investments of $200 million and create 2,500 jobs in the state over the next four years, Comptroller Susan Combs announced this morning. In return, the state will drop its efforts to collect back sales taxes from the company. […]

Our long Amazonian nightmare may finally be over

Negotiations are in progress to get Amazon to pay something like its fair share. Amazon.com is negotiating with the state to start paying Texas sales taxes on online sales and to create some jobs in the state, reviving talks that fell apart at the end of last year’s legislative session, sources involved in the conversations […]