Damen opens first North American office in Houston 

tug
  Damen Stan tug for Young Brothers

Netherlands-based shipbuilding group Damen opened its first North American office on Monday, and it already has its first order: four new twin-screw tugs for Young Brothers of Hawaii, a division of Saltchuk. 

The 120-foot ocean-going tugs will be built at Conrad Shipyard in Louisiana under a license agreement, and delivery is scheduled beginning in the first quarter of 2018. 

“Opening a permanent Damen presence in North America is a significant milestone for the group,” said Jan van Hogerwou, senior manager for new construction. “With over 200 Damen design vessels built and delivered in the US, this has been an important market for our vessels for many years via our flexible licensing agreements, and we have enjoyed excellent cooperation with shipyards across the country. This latest initiative will enable us to strengthen our relationships further with both builders and operators.”

The office is in Houston, and Damen says that the location was chosen as a signal to the offshore industry – a means of demonstrating commitment to offshore despite the current downturn. 

Damen is a diversified shipbuilding and ship design firm, with over 30 shipyard, repair yard and related units around the globe. In years past it has won many orders for offshore vessels, and while the recent downturn has had an effect on ordering activity in that market, the firm's strong presence in design and construction of tugs, wind farm service ships, military and coast guard patrol boats, ferries, and other specialty vessels has helped it stay balanced. As of the end of last year, the firm had a total orderbook value of more than $3 billion, according to Dutch news outlet FD. 

Posted by Mariella Priem August 11, 2016

Living, working and doing business in Texas 

 

Besides the endless opportunities the different sectors in Texas provide for the start and growth of your business in the US, Texas also offers a great lifestyle.

Low costs of living

First of all, the employees don’t pay personal income tax to the state and there is also no corporate tax. Also the costs of living are lower in Texas compared to other states.

The mild regulations and weak unions result in lower costs to start a business in Texas. Utilities like gas, water and electricity are also relatively cheap, because Texas has his own power grid and Texas still provides his own oil and gas.

Texas is a massive state and because of this land-richness real estate is relatively cheap.

Also the strong economy, low employability rate and excellent school system, makes Texas an attractive state to move to with your family members.

Texas is wanted
Texas is hot and wanted. According to Forbes’ annual list of America’s Fastest Growing Cities 6 of the top 20 largest cities in the U.S. are in Texas. According to a report released by the Census Bureau, Texas is also home to 5 of the 11 fastest growing cities in 2016, with Austin as the #1. Hordes of people are moving in (3,15% population growth rate in 2016 and 3,28% increase in job opportunities). Also 5 of the 8 cities that added the most people in sheer numbers are also in Texas: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin.

According to Chief Executive magazine, leaders favor states with fewer regulatory encumbrances and less federal or state interventions. Chief Executive asked 513 CEO’s to rank the states they are familiar with on the friendliness of their tax and regulatory regime, workforce quality and living environment (cost of living, education system and local attitude toward business). Texas has topped the list for 12 years in a row.

Reasons for attractiveness

Why is it that Texas has been able to retain its business attractiveness for such a long period? One of the reasons is the pro-growth policy decisions. The motto of the city is to keep Texas ‘the beacon of opportunities’ and business and political leaders in Texas know that they have to keep this motto going. After taking office, Gov. Abbott has continued and perhaps even intensified the business-friendly culture that was built by his predecessor, Gov. Perry. In Texas business and industry are working hand-in hand with policymakers to create an open market where business can prosper. Gov. Abbott has used the Texas Enterprise fund as a ‘deal closing fund’ to attract new jobs and investments to the state, which makes it easier for company decision-makers to choose Texas as the state to relocate their facilities. The perceived attractiveness of the lone star state is not only influenced by taxes and regulations, but also on migration between states and wise policy decisions; a lot of tax payers have changed their state of residency tot Texas in the past few years. In 2015, nearly half a million people moved to Texas. Another reason for this perceived business attractiveness is industrial diversification. Through industrial diversification, Texas has been able to overcome a decline in economic output resulting from lower oil prices and continues to court companies with its so-called ‘pro-business environment.’

Tech

Historically, Silicon Valley and Seattle have been seen as the tech meccas for the US, but over the last two decades this has changed. More and more companies that once looked at a location on either American coast as an advantage are now considering the logistical and cost advantages of locating in Texas. A good example is the North Dallas area, where a growing number of big companies are deciding to locate or relocate operations. Toyota, for example, is in the process of moving his headquarters and 4000 jobs form Torrance, California to Plano, Texas in 2017. There are more workers to be transferred from the Californian office to Texas than anticipated, because the employees found out what kind of house they can buy for the money compared with California.

Cost of living compared

The cost of living index as calculated by the Council for Community and Economic Research and published by PayScale, gives a grasp on how much the differences are. We have compared the cost of living in Austin Texas with other technical hubs like Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. The cost of living index is based on the following categories: Groceries, Housing, Utilities, Transportations and Health Care. So for example, the overall cost of living is 45% lower in Austin, compared to Boston and 131% lower when compared to NYC.

Overall Cost of living index

Compared to …

Austin

Boston

clip_image007 45%

Chicago

clip_image008 24%

NYC

clip_image009 131%

San Francisco

clip_image010 72%

Seattle

clip_image008[1] 31%

 

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Whether it is groceries, housing, utilities, transportations or health care, Austin -and with Austin, Texas- gives you to most economical options to set up shop in the United States.

Posted by Mariella Priem August 11, 2016 Categories: Economy Texas

Houston prepares for Super Bowl 51 

With 186 days on the clock until the Super Bowl L1 deadline, can- do city Houston is preparing enthusiastically to be the best Super Bowl host in history. After the Super Bowl 50 NASA astronauts even threw a football in space as a sort of ribbon cutting, for this preparation time. At this moment the noise from construction sites may be the official sound of downtown. From road construction to art installations and public gathering spots, downtown will get quite the before. High-rise buildings arise out of nowhere, including a 1000 plus room Marriott Marquis Hotel that is planned to open in September 2016.  According to the sr. PR Manager of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, a total of $3.5 billion has been invested into infrastructure and development, including $1.5 billion on the Downtown Entertainment District. This money is not only spent for The Big Game, but it creates deadlines for projects to be completed. Discovery Green for example, will be the home to a 10-day fan festival, along with surrounding parking lots and the George R. Brown Convention Center, before the game is played at NRG Stadium, home to the Houston Texans. The city wants to become more of a center of activity for locals and tourists. The Super Bowl 51 in February 2017 is not the first big event to be hosted by Houston. Houston also hosted the Super Bowl in 2004 and the successful hosting of The Final Four and the NBA All-Star Game were the key factors in awarding the game to Houston in 2013. The Houston Super Bowl Host Committee is very optimistic about the positive impact the exposure resulting from game will have on the city. The Super Bowl has brought in an average of $330 million of revenue to the host city and the committee expects a similar number in 2017. The Committee has announced 16 Founding sponsors: Accenture, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Bud Light/Silver Eagle Distributors, Camden Property Trust, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Energy XXI, Halliburton, Hess Corporation, Houston Texans, Memorial Hermann, Noble Energy Inc., NRG Energy, Shell Oil Company, Sysco Corporation and Texas Medical Center. Critics say the positive impact on the host city need to be seen in the light of some cons that are associated with hosting an event like the Super Bowl. A big event like that can drive regular tourist and local traffic away, who will spend less in the city. Another critical sound is the amount of tax payer’s money that will go into hosting the game, not to mention the heightened security. To put all the cons aside; the already proud Houstonians are beyond excited to flaunt themselves on the world stage during the Super Bowl, which is the most important gain from this game!

Posted by Mariella Priem August 03, 2016