Monday AM March 19th, 2007

Free job fair at Wyndham Greenspoint Hotel seeks health professionals...New Ace hardware outlet in Spring given to Oregon man in contest...Renaissance Houston Hotel to be sold...

ADVANCE Newsmagazines is hosting a free Job Fair & Career Event today at the Wyndham Greenspoint Hotel to bring nursing and allied health professionals together with regional facilities that are hiring. Attendees can log 4.5 hours of free continuing education on various healthcare topics.

The proprietor of the new Ace Hardware store opening in Spring on June 29th won the store in the company's Dream Ace contest. Retired Oregon National Guardsman Gower Talley won the $1 million store on Spring Cypress Road, including opening stock inventory, fixtures, d?cor and technology to operate the store. Talley will receive new retailer training and support from Ace.

Crescent Real Estate Equities has agreed to sell several resorts and hotels to Walton TCC Hotel Investors V for $550 million, according to the Houston Business Journal. Fort Worth-based Crescent is selling all of its resort and hotel assets to focus on office real estate. The deal, slated to close in the second quarter, includes the Renaissance Houston Hotel and the Omni Austin Hotel.

Continental Airlines says it supports the recent "open skies" deal between the United States and the European Union, which is expected to give airlines on both sides of the Atlantic greater freedom to choose their trans-Atlantic routes. That could lead to more competition and lower fares on some routes. The deal may give Continental a chance to land in London's Heathrow Airport, as well as Gatwick Airport. The pact would change rules that allow only British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines and American Airlines to fly between the U.S. and Heathrow. The European Parliamentξlast Wednesday urged member countries to adopt the agreement, which will be voted on by EU lawmakersξthis week.

Customers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport will be able to use the Harris County Toll Road Authority's EZ Tag for on-airport parking beginning March 30th. The airports will designate EZ Tag lanes for automated payment. EZ Tag patrons wanting to use the service can opt in by emailing The credit card associated with the EZ account, and not the EZ account balance, will be charged for all parking fees. EZ accounts charged to a debit card are not eligible for the airport parking service.

The 2007 Rice Business Plan Competition, for the first time, welcomes a panel of Houston area high school students at its three-day event this week. Teens will judge the Elevator Pitch Competition, where each of the 36 teams will have 60 seconds to present an overview of their company. Lamar High School and the High School for Visual and Performing Arts have joined this year's event through their Business Magnet and Business Professionals programs. The competition begins Thursday, hosted by the Rice Alliance, which has assisted in the launch of over 180 new technology companies since 1999. More than $300,000 in cash and prizes are being announced at the awards banquet on Saturday at the Hilton Americas.

Brazil's state-run Petrobras plans to begin exporting ethanol to the United States this year. The U.S. charges a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on imports of Brazilian ethanol, made from sugar. The tariff protects U.S. corn growers. Shell Brasil has been exporting ethanol to the U.S. Petrobras begins constructing a $750 million ethanol pipeline in August.

Houston-based Spectra Energy has won approval from federal regulators for a pipeline to a proposed offshore liquified natural gas terminal in Massachusetts. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a 16.4-mile line into Massachusetts from a floating LNG terminal proposed by The Woodlands-based Excelerate Energy.

Dallas-based Signature Hospital Corporation has gotten the go-ahead from West Virginia state regulators to buy St. Joseph's Hospital in from LifePointe Hospitals. Brentwood, Tennessee-based LifePointe and Signature had announced the deal in September. West Virginia's Health Care Authority approved the deal for the 325-bed Parkersburg, West Virginia, hospital. Signature President and CEO Charles R. Miller says the company looks forward to building a strong partnership with St. Joseph's. Signature also owns Pampa Regional Medical Center in Pampa, Texas and Gulf Coast Medical Center in Wharton, Texas.

Thousands of former Cingular Wireless customers in California will soon get a refund for canceling their service because they had trouble making and receiving calls. The company reached a settlement with the California Public Utilities Commission that will have them dishing out $18.5 million. It ends a lengthy battle revolving around Cingular's treatment of dissatisfied subscribers from January 2000 through April 2002. The traffic on Cingular's network nearly doubled during that period, straining the system until the company completed extensive upgrades. Cingular recently became AT&T Mobility after San Antonio-based AT&T bought out Atlanta-based BellSouth. That included BellSouth's stake in Cingular, which it owned jointly with AT&T. About 115,000 unhappy ex-customers will receive average refund checks of $160. The refunds include interest. Cingular says it expects to issue the refunds within 60 days.

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