fully charged

Surprising share of Houstonians saddled with $10,000 or more in credit card debt

We're up to our ears in debt, Houston. Photo by Image Source/Getty Images

You hear that noise, Houston? It's the sound of your bank account screaming under the weight of the heavier debt load you're shouldering.

A report released by personal finance platform LendingTree shows Houston ranks tenth among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas for the share of people with credit card balances totaling at least $10,000.

In an aggressive jump, Houston climbed from No. 32 two years ago to No. 10 this year. According to LendingTree, 20 percent of cardholders in the metro have credit card debt of at least $10,000, and 1.6 percent have credit card debt of at least $50,000.

Elsewhere in Texas, Austin jumped 20 spots in the ranking to sixth in the nation, compared with its 26th-place showing in LendingTree's 2019 report. Some 20.8 percent of Austinites show credit card balances totaling at least $10,000. LendingTree says 1.7 percent of cardholders in Austin owe at least $50,000.

Meanwhile, Dallas-Fort Worth moved from No. 33 to No. 18. Today, 19.2 percent of cardholders in the metro have debt totaling at least $10,000 and 1.5 percent have credit card debt totaling at least $50,000.

San Antonio rose from No. 27 to No. 26. There, 18.4 percent of cardholders have credit card debt of $10,000 or more and 1.2 percent have credit card debt of $50,000 or more.LendingTree offers perhaps a partial explanation for the increase in five-digit credit card balances among Texas metros: "While the saying goes that 'everything is bigger in Texas,' that hasn't traditionally been the case with salaries in the Lone Star State. The big metros in Texas have generally trailed behind the big coastal metros in that measure."

Bridgeport, Connecticut, holds the No. 1 spot for the largest share of cardholders (24.3 percent) with at least $10,000 in debt.------

This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Activate is planting its roots in Houston with a plan to have its first set of fellows next year. Photo via Getty Images

An organization that directs support to scientists developing impactful technology has decided on Houston for its fifth program.

Activate was founded in Berkeley, California, in 2015 to bridge the gap between the federal and public sectors to deploy capital and resources into the innovators creating transformative products. The nonprofit expanded its programs to Boston and New York before launching a virtual fellowship program — Activate Anywhere, which is for scientists 50 or more miles outside one of the three hubs.

"Our mission is to empower scientists to reinvent the world by bringing their research to market," Aimee Rose, executive managing director of Activate, tells InnovationMap. "There's so much technical talent that we educate in this country every year and so many amazing inventions that happen, that combining the two, which is the sort of inventor/entrepreneur, and giving them the support mechanisms they need to get on their feet and be successful, has the potential to unlock an incredible amount of value for the country, for the environment, and to address other social problems."

This year, Activate is planting seeds in Houston to grow a presence locally and have its first set of fellows in 2024. While Activate is industry agnostic, Rose says a big draw from Houston is the ability to impact the future of energy.

"We're super excited about Houston as an emerging ecosystem for the clean energy transition as being the energy capital of the world, as well as all the other emerging players there are across the landscape in Houston," Rose says. "I think we can move the needle in Houston because of our national footprint."

The first order of business, Rose says, is hiring a managing director for Activate Houston. The job, which is posted online, is suited for an individual who has already developed a hardtech business and has experience and connections within Houston's innovation ecosystem.

"We want to customize the program so that it makes the most sense for the community," Rose says about the position. "So, somebody that has the relationships and the knowledge of the ecosystem to be able to do that and somebody that's kind of a mentor at heart."

The program is for early-stage founders — who have raised less than $2 million in funding — working on high-impact technology. Rose explains that Activate has seen a number of microelectronics and new materials companies go through the program, and, while medical innovation is impactful, Activate doesn't focus on pharmaceutical or therapeutic industries since there are existing pathways for those products.

Ultimately, Activate is seeking innovators whose technologies fall through the cracks of existing innovation infrastructure.

"Not every business fits into the venture capital model in terms of what investors would expect to be eventual outcomes, but these these types of businesses can still have significant impact and make the world a better place," Rose says, explaining how Activate is different from an incubator or accelerator. "As opposed as compared to a traditional incubator, this is a very high touch program. You get a living stipend so you can take a big business technical risk without a personal risk. We give you a lot of hands on support and mentoring."

Each of the programs selects 10 fellows that join the program for two years. The fellows receive a living stipend, connections from Activate's robust network of mentors, and access to a curriculum specific to the program.

Since its inception, Activate has supported 104 companies and around 146 entrepreneurs associated with those companies. With the addition of Houston, Activate will be able to back 50 individuals a year.

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