Wednesday PM September 27th, 2006

Seven-eleven drops Citgo as gasoline supplier... Governor announces $30 million public-private investment to lure top nanotechnology researchers to Texas...HTC showcases client and graduate companies...

Seven-eleven is dropping Venezuela-backed Citgo as its gasoline supplier after more than 20 years. That comes as part of a previously announced plan by the convenience store operator to launch its own brand of fuel. Seven-eleven officials said today that the company's decision was partly motivated by politics. Citgo Petroleum is a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state-run oil company. Seven-eleven is worried that anti-American comments made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez might prompt motorists to fill-up elsewhere. Chavez has called President George W. Bush the devil and an alcoholic. The U.S. government has warned that Chavez is a destabilizing force in Latin America. A 7-11 spokeswoman said Chavez's position and statements over the past year or so didn't tempt us to stay with Citgo.'' Instead, 7-11 will now purchase fuel from several distributors. The 7-11 spokeswoman said the decision to sell its own brand was based on many factors. A Citgo spokesman declined to comment on whether Chavez's comments had a bearing on 7-11's change in suppliers. He said the break was a mutual agreement of the two companies.''

At least 22 workers required medical attention after an explosion at a plant in Baytown. Federal authorities will help investigate the cause of Tuesday's accident at a Bayer unit. Officials say the workers were treated for breathing problems and burns--and released. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports an apparent boiler explosion damaged some pipes on top of other equipment that contained ammonia.

A tower launch party is underway on Almeda Road this afternoon to celebrate the initial phase of vertical construction for Mosaic on Hermann Park--a 792-unit twin tower condominium. The tower will be the largest residential high-rise built in Houston to date. The Mosaic will sit directly across from Hermann Park near the golf course. The complex will be close to the Museum District, Houston Zoo, Rice University, Texas Medical Center and walking proximity to light rail.

Governor Rick Perry announced a $30 million public-private investment today to help lure a handful of top nanotechnology researchers to Texas. Speaking at the Nanotx'06 nanotechnology conference in Dallas, Perry said the goal is to attract seven or eight of the world's leading scientists and their research teams to work for the new Southwest Academy of Nanoelectronics. Nanotechnology is the science involving the manufacture and manipulation of materials at the molecular or atomic level. The academy was first announced in July, when the University of Texas System regents gave Chancellor Mark Yudof permission to seek grants from the state and industry leaders to help create it. Perry stressed that other fields of nanotechnology ranging from medical applications to micromachines, would be a part of the research, not just nanoelectronics.

The Houston Technology Showcase showcased client and graduate companies today at the Hyatt. The Houston Technology Center's Hilla Barzilai-Abileah says companies approach the business accelerator for business guidance, access to capital and service providers and entrepreneurial education.

"Emerging technology companies can apply to become clients. They go through a screening committee that gives them very, very good feedback, whether they're accepted or not. And if they are accepted, they become clients and they run with us approximately two years, and get a lot of guidance on how to run their business. Lot of coaching and mentoring, and plenty of opportunity for networking and learning within HTC."

Larry Gadeken started BetaBatt, developing a new type of long-life industrial battery that can last from 12 to 20 years. He appreciates the business expertise of HTC.

"I'm a client company with the HTC and they direct me down a path where the business that I don't know—because I'm a physicist by training—so they help me learn the business and being an entrepreneur and keeping on the right path from the business perspective."

HTC is supported by over 300 corporations and organizations, as well as the Greater Houston Partnership, the Texas Medical Center, NASA and the City of Houston.

Shareholders of Univision Communications have approved the proposed sale of the Spanish-language broadcaster to a private investor group for 12.3 billion. The company says the deal was okayed by more than 80 percent of the shares that voted. The transaction includes the assumption of $1.4 billion in debt. The transaction still has to be approved by regulators.

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