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Houston Earns Top Business Location Ranking

The Fast Track To No. 1


A rapidly
expanding economy propels Houston 
to the top spot among the nation’s largest cities.

The fastest-growing economy in North America
is producing more corporate real estate projects than any other city in the U.S.

Greater Houston,
which in 2011 secured 195 corporate facility expansion projects, is increasing
the size of its metropolitan economy at a rate that leads every other metro
area on the continent, according to a new study from the Brookings Institution.

As a result, it’s no surprise that Houston won Site Selection Magazine’s ranking as the No. 1
Large Metro in the U.S.
for 2011. America’s
fourth-largest city easily beat out second-place Chicago, which garnered 167 facility deals
last year.

Houston’s top
ranking confirms what many company executives already knew: The largest city in
Texas is a
great location for business.

“In terms of the overall business climate,
this is definitely a strong market,” says Deborah Miner, chief financial
officer for FlexSteel Pipeline Technologies Inc., which is nearing completion
on a US$94.8-million manufacturing plant in the Houston
suburb of Baytown.
The 250,000-sq.-ft. (23,225-sq.-m.) facility on a 30-acre (12-hectare) site
will create 130 jobs.

“Everyone at the Greater Houston Partnership
and the state of Texas
was very helpful,” Miner says. “We received tax abatements on the property and
the equipment, as well as assistance in job training.”

Although the company is based in Houston, Miner says FlexSteel scoured the Gulf Coast and
the Midwest for the best location for the new
factory. “Our existing manufacturing facility is in Panama City, Fla.,”
she says. “We looked at locations in Louisiana,
Texas and areas in the Midwest
— areas that have good rail access and good barge transportation access.”

FlexSteel identified other potential sites
within a 100-mile (161-km.) radius of Houston,
notes Miner, but eventually selected Baytown
for a number of reasons.

“Our most important site criteria were
logistics considerations,” she says. “We weighed the distance from the raw
material suppliers versus the distance to the customers. We needed rail access
and port access, so being close to the Port
of Houston and other Gulf Coast
ports was a key factor.”

Being able to find and hire qualified labor,
and qualifying for state and local incentives, were pivotal factors as well,
the CFO adds. “Energy consumption is also a major consideration,” she notes,
referring to the cost of electricity and other energy costs associated with
operating the new plant.

Access to Latin American markets was a big
factor, notes Miner. “We are exporting our product to Latin
America, and that fact tended to tilt our search more toward a
Southern location,” she adds. “We did look at some locations along the
Mississippi River in the Midwest, but a Gulf Coast
location with great port access became the driver.”

Most of FlexSteel’s suppliers tend to cluster
along the Gulf Coast because they also supply the many
refineries in the region, says Miner. “We want people to know that this is
expansion number one,” she says. “We will expand by adding other facilities
once this plant is up and running. We will conduct more site selection
processes as we move forward and build additional facilities.”

Global Firm Chooses Pearland

George Frioux, vice president of business
development for Merit Medical, says that logistics and a pro-business climate
helped sway his own company toward selecting a Greater Houston location for a
new medical device manufacturing plant.

The facility in the south Houston suburb of Pearland is a
117,000-sq.-ft. (10,869-sq.-m.) concrete tilt-up building that will be a
production facility for the making of catheters. The $19.5-million capital
investment creates 160 jobs.

“The scope of our site search was south of Houston to allow our
employees at our existing plant in Angleton to commute to the new site,” says
Frioux. “We looked at eight to 10 sites before choosing Pearland. The city has
been extremely generous with their time and very helpful in connecting us with
other businesses in the area. They have a very good network in Pearland and a
very good economic development team.”

Frioux especially likes the work force in the
region. “We had a hurricane there three years ago, and a number of our
employees left their homes to come over to our plant in Angleton and help us
rebuild our plant within 30 days,” he says. “They are highly qualified
employees. We hire a lot of engineers. It is a tremendous work force.”

Although Merit Medical is headquartered in the
Salt Lake City suburb of South Jordan, Utah, Frioux says the
company has found an exceptional labor pool in Greater Houston.

“This new facility will have a clean room and
it will increase our manufacturing efficiencies in making extrusion products,”
he says. “It gives us a better constructed building in an upscale business park
with excellent transportation access right on the I-288 Corridor. Trucks will
be able to get in and out of our new site quickly.”

With 2,500 employees worldwide, Merit will do
close to $400 million in global sales this year, says Frioux. Established in
1987, the company operates plants in China,
France, Virginia
and the Netherlands.

“We have been in the Houston area since an acquisition about 12
years ago,” he adds. “The city, the county and everyone in the region have made
us feel very welcome here.”

Jeff Moseley, president and CEO of the Greater
Houston Partnership, says that spirit of South Texas
hospitality is one thing that sets his area apart.

“We continue to be a very business-friendly
community,” Moseley says. “We are very competitive in affordability. That has
to do with the fact that we don’t have planning and zoning. We have a very low
regulatory climate and a fabulous work force. Going to work and getting the job
done are very important here.”

In fact, more people are going to work in Houston today than ever
before. With a work force of 3 million people, Houston
has gained more jobs than any other U.S. city since the recession. From
2006 to 2011, Houston
added 109,700 private-sector jobs.

Houston is the
first major metro area in the country to fully regain all of the jobs that it
had lost during the recession. The Global MetroMonitor rankings released by
Brookings in January showed that Houston’s
economic growth ranked 19th in the world — the best rating on the continent.
The ranking includes such factors as population, employment and per-capita

One District, Four Languages

There are no signs that this growth rate will
slow down anytime soon. “Over the next 30 years, Texas will grow from 25 million people to 50
million people,” says Moseley. “We will become the most populous state in the
nation. Houston will gain the equivalent of the
population of Los Angeles
during that time. We will gain more than 3 million people. About 80 percent of
the population growth in Texas will occur in
the triangle of Houston to Dallas-Fort Worth to San Antonio.”

Currently, the city of Houston has a population of 2.1 million, the
fourth largest in the country, while the metro area has a population of 6 million.

Moseley notes that “everything we do today is
just putting the foundation in place for this vast global community. There is
no ethnic majority in Greater Houston right now. We really do look a lot like
the future of America

To illustrate his point, Moseley notes that
“in one of our districts, the election ballot is printed in four languages —
English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Mandarin.”

Project activity abounds throughout the metro
area. Chicago Bridge
and Iron Works is planning a $25-million upgrade at its existing plant in Pasadena. The project
moves 35 highly skilled jobs from New Jersey
to Houston.

Neutex Lighting is relocating its LED lighting
headquarters to Houston,
bringing $2.5 million in capital investment and creating 50 jobs. Schlumberger
Ltd., the world’s largest oilfields services company, is expanding by $9.6
million and adding 175 jobs.

“We are projecting 85,000 new jobs in our
region this year,” Moseley says. “When you look at the performance of our metro
economy, it puts us up with some of the top performers in the world like Beijing, Shanghai and Rio.”

Home of the Texas
Medical Center
and M.D. Anderson, Houston
ranks as a world leader in the biomedical field.

“More than 95,000 trained medical
professionals go to work every day in downtown Houston,” Moseley adds. “You couldn’t build
that today if you tried. The R&D and intellectual property that come out of
that cluster put Houston
at the forefront of the cure for cancer.”

With the widened Panama Canal set to open in
the next 36 months, Moseley says that the Port of Houston
is poised to grow exponentially in cargo volume. “The next step for us is to
add the rail intermodal infrastructure,” he says. “We really are the gateway to
the Americas, and our ties
to Latin America will only get bigger.”



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Home sales in Texas improve


Existing-home sales in Texas improve during July

September 2nd, 2011 7:21am


According to Multiple Listing Services data compiled by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, existing-home sales throughout the state improved during July.

Overall, the report shows sales grew 18 percent from the previous year, with close to 19,630 properties being sold. The most transactions took place in Houston, where 5,544 homes exchanged deeds, representing a 17 percent increase from 2010. Dallas recorded the second-highest total with 4,064 existing-home sales, which is up 21 percent from last year. Wichita Falls had the best year-over-year increase, selling 181 properties, which was 74 percent more than the previous year.

The median home price for existing homes sold during July was $153,200, which is down 1 percent from the previous year. The median value for Houston properties was $159,300, which grew 1 percent from the previous year. Harlingen recorded the greatest median price increase, as the value was up 12 percent to $88,300.

Despite this gain, the region still has the largest inventory in the state, with 23.6 months worth of properties. Austin has the least amount with 6.5 months worth, followed by Fort Worth and San Angelo with 6.9 months of supply. Houston’s inventory at the end of July totaled 7.7 months worth.

Courtesy of 2M Realty News


Why a Real Estate Career Might be Right for You


Why a Real Estate Career Might be Right for You


MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. – Do you enjoy helping others achieve their goals?  Would you rather set your own work hours? Do you prefer a short career transition?  If these factors are important to you, look no further than a career in real estate.  With the freedom to operate like an entrepreneur, a career in real estate can be a great fit for people from various professional backgrounds and with busy schedules.          

According a recent National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey, nearly eight out of 10 respondents believe buying a home is a good financial decision, despite ongoing challenges with the economy and housing market.  This notion coupled with the public’s persistent journey to achieve the American dream of homeownership provides those in real estate a career that can be both lucrative and emotionally fulfilling.      

The uniqueness of today’s market offers a great time to begin a career in real estate.  Here are some reasons why becoming a real estate agent might be right for you: 

  • Projected recovery –                                                                                                     Many economists have predicted a real estate market recovery in 2011-2012.  Now is a prudent time to establish yourself in the industry in anticipation of a sustained housing recovery.   
  • Uncapped earnings –                                                                                               Those with an entrepreneurial spirit like the fact that the only limits to success are the amount of effort they put into the job and their ability to get results.  Your compensation is a direct result of your hard work and success.
  • Get started quickly –                                                                                                     Unlike other careers that may require a significant investment of time to get started, in a few weeks, you can hit the ground running.
  • Flexible lifestyle –                                                                                                         Most agents are granted the independence to establish their own schedule and work hours.  This is instrumental in developing a strong work-life balance and becomes useful to those who have another career or are single parents.   

There are a number of resources available for those who think a career in real estate might be right for them.  Individuals interested in learning more about real estate careers may visit Weichert.com/Careers or call 800-301-3000 to speak in person to a Weichert career counselor



Weichert to Make the Words “Happy Holidays” Ring True with 32nd Annual Toy Drive


Weichert to Make the Words “Happy Holidays” Ring True with 32nd Annual Toy Drive


MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. – The Weichert Family of Companies recently announced the start of the 32nd Annual Weichert Toy Drive.  Members of the community are invited to drop off new, unwrapped toys at each of the company’s sales offices through December 10.  The toys will be delivered throughout the holidays in conjunction with local charities that assist financially and physically disadvantaged children.          

“Each year marks a new opportunity to make a difference and brighten the spirits of those less fortunate in this country,” said Jim Weichert, president and founder of Weichert, Realtors. “I invite you to join in our effort to give the greatest gift of all this holiday season, joy, to the children and families who need it most.”                

Weichert employees at the company’s corporate headquarters in Morris Plains, as well as in other company locations throughout the United States, will also participate in the yearly community service event.  To date, the annual toy drive has yielded hundreds of thousands of items for underprivileged children in the communities Weichert serves.  Last year nearly 24,000 toys were distributed to charitable and service organizations. 

To make a donation, visit any Weichert, Realtors sales office.  To find your local office, please go to www.weichert.com    

Weichert has nearly 18,000 sales associates in over 500 company-owned and franchised sales offices in key markets throughout the U.S.  A family of full-service real estate and financial services companies, Weichert helps customers buy and sell both residential and commercial real estate, and streamlines the delivery of mortgages and home and title insurance.  For more information, call Weichert’s customer service center at 1-800-USA-SOLD or visit Weichert’s Web site, www.weichert.com.  Each Weichert franchised office is independently owned and operated.


Weichert Wins “Best Award” For Its Commitment to Training

Press Release

Weichert Wins “Best Award” For Its Commitment to Training


MORRIS PLAINS, N.J. – Weichert was recently named a recipient of the 2010 ASTD BEST Award from the American Society for Training & Development.  Weichert is among 31 organizations from across the world to receive the award and ranked 12th overall out of the more than 100 organizations that entered the competition.

“Training and developing our employees and sales associates has been an integral part of the Weichert culture since we were founded,” said Jim Weichert, president and founder of Weichert, Realtors. “Given our ongoing commitment to learning, it is particularly gratifying to be honored with this prestigious award.”

The BEST Awards recognize organizations that demonstrate enterprise-wide success through employee learning and development. “The ASTD BEST Awards are the training industry’s most rigorous and coveted recognition,” said Tony Bingham, ASTD’s president and CEO. “These organizations excel in creating innovative learning cultures that clearly align with strategic business goals. And, they continue to demonstrate their commitment to workplace learning and development even during a challenging economic climate.”

Weichert received the ASTD BEST Award as a result of its efforts to help sales associates meet the challenges of an ever-changing market. When the government instituted a tax credit for home buyers, the national real estate company responded by developing sales, marketing and training programs to capitalize on the opportunity. With the emergence of social media, Weichert developed a series of training sessions to educate the sales force on the best ways to effectively communicate with customers through this new medium.

About Weichert

Weichert has nearly 18,000 sales associates in more than 500 company-owned and franchised sales offices in key markets throughout the U.S.  A family of full-service real estate and financial services companies, Weichert helps customers buy and sell both residential and commercial real estate, and streamlines the delivery of mortgages and home and title insurance.  For more information, Weichert’s customer service center can be reached at 1-800-USA-SOLD or at Weichert’s Web site, www.weichert.com.  Each Weichert franchised office is independently owned and operated.

About ASTD

ASTD (the American Society for Training & Development) is the world’s largest association dedicated to the training and development field. ASTD’s members come from more than 100 countries and connect locally in 130 U.S. chapters and with 30 International Partners. For more information, visit www.astd.org.


Richard Ortiz earns new social media designation


Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors’ Richard Ortiz earns new social media designation

December 8, 2009 12:07 pm

Lin112233 wrote:

Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors’ Richard Ortiz earns new social media designation

As the terms “blogs,” “Facebook,” “Twitter” and other social-media brands become everyday words in our vocabularies, connecting with people through technology earns its place as a valuable skill set in every professional’s toolbox.

Staying ahead of the curve, Richard Ortiz, GRI, of Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors – Katy has just earned Houston Association of Realtors’ new Social Media Pro credential. As Ortiz pointed out, “Contacts create clients, and these new social media skills are in keeping with Prudential Gary Greene’s core values of continually providing the highest standard of customer service.

“My goal as a Realtor is to expand a client’s ability to communicate with me, wherever they are and at any time of the day,” Ortiz said. “It is my firm belief that every successful real estate transaction is based on communication, relationships, and the Realtor’s personal commitment to be of service whenever it is needed,” he added.

Ortiz, whose professional résumé includes real estate experience in New York, Puerto Rico and London as well as the Greater Houston area, joined Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors in 2006.

“Richard continues to be an outstanding example of the continuing efforts of Prudential Gary Greene agents to better serve every client, whether that client is buying or selling property,” said Tracy Bogiel, manager of Prudential Gary Greene’s Katy office.

“I’m focusing my efforts on today’s consumer and how they shop,” he explained. “Through new technology and my ongoing education, I am able to create a comfortable environment and the highest level of service for home buyers and sellers.”