Thursday AM October 11th, 2007

Port of Houston-Wide Job Fair set for today...Public TXU Corporation ownership passes to private investors led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and TPG...Entrepreneurship program at University of Houston's Bauer College of Business ranks second in nation...

The Port of Houston-Wide Job Fair is set for today at the Jimmy Burke Activity Center in Deer Park. Public and private companies along the Houston Ship Channel will interview for positions, as Port of Houston Executive Director Tom Kornegay explains.

"Mainly we're targeting folks that are interested in jobs along the Port of Houston, and we have about 50 companies who are going to have booths at the Jimmy Burke Activity Center in Deer Park on Thursday from 10 o'clock, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. And we're asking people to pre-register. We are working very closely with The Work Source, and they are really helping us put this together, and if anybody needs to contact them, they can call them at 713-472-1608."

Kornegay says the sponsors are hoping to attract job seekers for several types of work.

"The sponsors are Port of Houston Authority, the West Gulf Coast Maritime Association, San Jacinto College and the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region. We're looking for people in all kinds of jobs. We're looking for longshoremen, electricians, instrument men, administrative assistants, even one structural engineering position. So it sort of runs the gamut. I believe the last count we had over 200 jobs that we were looking to fill. They are existing openings."

On-site interviews will be held at the fair. Job seekers are provided resume-building resources and interview skills workshops. A recent study indicates that 393,147 jobs are related to activity at Port of Houston terminals.


More than two million electric customers in Texas will soon pay their monthly bills to a company with new owners, new directors--and more debt. Ownership of TXU Corporation passed from public stockholders to investors led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and TPG, formerly Texas Pacific Group. Federal regulators weeks ago signed off on the $32 billion deal. Shareholders of Dallas-based TXU overwhelmingly approved it last month. The investors plan to borrow $24.5 billion in new debt and refinance old debt to pull off the deal. Consumer advocates say they know who'll pay the bill--ratepayers. A spokesman for the buyers declined comment.


Houston-based engineering firm Bechtel Overseas Power and GE Energy have signed an agreement with TransCanada Corporation to develop the first polygeneration facility in Canada, according to the Houston Business Journal. The plant will use petroleum coke and incorporate carbon capture and storage. The facility in Saskatchewan will produce hydrogen, nitrogen, steam and carbon dioxide for fertilizer production and enhanced oil recovery as it generates about 300 megawatts of electricity. The plant is expected to be online by 2013.


Minutes from the September policy-setting session indicate that Federal Reserve officials thought "the most prudent course of action'' was to cut rates. They slashed rates by one-half percentage point to 4.75 percent, the first such reduction in over four years. The release underscores the concern on the part of Chairman Ben Bernanke and his fellow central bankers surrounding the credit crunch and the worst housing slump in years. The next opportunity to cut rates is at a two-day meeting at the end of the month.


The Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation released its 2008 State Business Tax Climate Index, ranking how business-friendly each state has become. Texas ranks eighth in the Top Ten. The index ranks states based on corporate tax, individual income tax, sales tax, unemployment tax and property tax. Scores are weighted based on the relative importance or impact of the tax to a business. The Tax Foundation has monitored tax federal, state and local tax policy since 1937. The group is best known for its annual calculation of Tax Freedom Day.


A new poll suggests that a growing number of people think the nation's biggest problem is the economy. But the Associated Press-Ipsos survey found that the major concerns of those surveyed remain foreign affairs--including the Iraq war--and domestic issues, including morality. The AP-Ipsos poll gave people an open-ended chance to name the major problem facing the country. Fifteen percent of those surveyed named the economy. That's six percentage points more than did so when the poll asked the question in July. About 42 percent, however, named foreign affairs as the top problem. About 33 percent named domestic issues. The poll involved telephone interviews with 499 adults.


San Antonio-based Valero Energy says it expects to report third-quarter earnings far short of Wall Street estimates. The nation's largest independent oil refiner blames the cost of refined products not keeping pace with rapidly rising crude costs. Valero says its estimate doesn't include a $91 million pretax gain related to a loan repayment by a foreign subsidiary. It says it also doesn't include a $94.5 million payment for a stock repurchase program completed in July. The warning follows a similar one by ConocoPhillips last week and a reminder from Chevron that it would also report lower profits because of refinery margins.


FMC Technologies has a $200 million contract to supply deepwater subsea systems to a subsidiary of Brazilian oil company Petrobras, according to the Houston Business Journal. The Houston-based firm will deliver four horizontal subsea trees, three manifolds, control systems and two subsea horizontal electric submersible pumping systems.


American Airlines announced it will close a reservations center in Cincinnati next September. About 450 people work at the Cincinnati site. Fort Worth-based American says those employees will be offered jobs at other offices or at home. The unit of AMR says its landlord recently said the Cincinnati building would be converted to residential property.


National Surgical Hospitals plans to convert Sterling Ridge Surgery Center in The Woodlands into a surgical hospital, according to the Houston Business Journal. Sterling Ridge opened in 2005, and NSH recently acquired a majority stake from the center's nine physician owners. Four surgeons have been added and more will be hired as a result of the acquisition.


Humboldt County supervisors in northern California have approved a temporary construction ban on county land currently covered with redwoods. The question was raised when Pacific Lumber Company proposed to sell 22,000 acres of timber land. Pacific Lumber was bought by Houston financier Charles Hurwitz in 1986. A high-end residential development with about 130 homes on 160-acre plots linked together by golf courses and a club house was planned for the area, currently covered in redwood groves and other trees. The interim building moratorium will be in place for 45 days, but it could be extended. This time-out will allow county officials to analyze the proposal and contrast it with the county's general land use plan. Besides getting the development proposal past Humboldt County officials, the company has to get the approval of a federal bankruptcy judge in Corpus Christi, who's overseeing their case. A hearing is scheduled in Corpus Christi on October 23rd.


A Phoenix company that helped travelers to score the best boarding spots on Southwest Airlines flights has shut down. Boardfirst.com closed after battling the Dallas-based airline for more than a year. Boardfirst owner Kate Bell cites a federal judge's ruling against her firm in a suit filed by the airline. The judge ruled Bell was violating a Southwest ban on commercial use of its Web site. Boardfirst charged clients $5 to do online check-ins for passengers, allowing them to obtain coveted "A'' boarding passes on their Southwest flights. The airline doesn't assign seats, and boards passengers in A, B and C groups based on when they check in for their flights, either using the company's Web site or at the airport. A Southwest spokeswoman said Wednesday that the company was pleased with the judge's ruling.


The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard has signed on as an on-the-air contributor with the soon-to-be-launched Fox News business news channel. Carly Fiorina led a controversial merger with Compaq Computer in 2002, only to be dumped later by the company's board. Fox Business debuts October 15th after two years of planning to compete with General Electric's CNBC. Headquartered in Manhattan, FBN has established a bureau in San Francisco, covering Silicon Valley, as well as in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and London.


The entrepreneurship program at the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston has been ranked second among the nation's undergraduate business schools by Entrepreneur magazine and the Princeton Review. Babson College was ranked number one.


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