Here's how big your nest egg needs to be in Texas if you want an early retirement. Photo via Pexels

Many working adults have asked themselves whether or not they'll be able to achieve an early retirement, but the reality is: It's not attainable anywhere in the U.S. without a substantial nest egg (and the income to go with it).

In Texas, that nest egg would have to be at least $1 million in the bank, according to a new annual report by personal finance website GoBankingRates.

The report, "Early Retirement: Here’s How Much Savings Is Needed To Retire by 40 in Every State," examined each state's cost of living and Social Security benefits to determine exactly how much money you'd need to have stocked away to achieve an early retirement.

According to the study's findings, the total cost of living expenses for the average Texan adds up to $3,362.63 per month, or $40,351.50 a year.

Based on those numbers, GoBakingRates calculated that a Texas resident retiring by age 40 would need a jaw-dropping $1,278,894.70 saved up if they were to live until they were 80 years old.

If a 40-year-old Texan lived to be 90, that nest egg would have to be $1,458,966.13, and if they lived to be 100, they'd need $1,639,037.55 in their savings for those remaining 60 years.

Texas came in at No. 20 on the list. Texans can breathe a (small) sigh of relief they aren't retiring in Hawaii, which came in at No. 1 on the list, with the highest amount of savings needed to retire early. The annual cost of living in Hawaii is nearly $107,000, which means a 40-year-old Hawaiian would need more than $3.94 million to retire early and enjoy 40 years of retirement.

California came in second, followed by Washington DC, Massachusetts, and Washington state.

The states with the least amount of savings required to retire by 40 are:

  • No. 1 – West Virginia
  • No. 2 – Mississippi
  • No. 3 – Oklahoma
  • No. 4 – Arkansas
  • No. 5 – Kentucky
  • No. 6 – Louisiana
  • No. 7 – Alabama
  • No. 8 – Kansas
  • No. 9 – Iowa
  • No. 10 – Michigan

GOBankingRates sourced cost of living data and national average expenditure data for retired residents from the Missouri Economic and Research Information Center, the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure for Retired Residents, and Zillow’s Home Value Index. These three data points were combined to determine the average annual cost of living for retired residents, and used the typical retirement age of 65 to factor in the full Social Security benefits, thus calculating the average income to be expected in retirement.

The report echoes national ongoing financial strife in regards to inflation and cost of living increases, where not even Houston is immune.

The full report can be found on gobankingrates.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Texas has landed in the No. 8 spot for the best states for Black entrepreneurs. Photo by Christina Morillo/Pexels

Report: Texas remains a top state for Black entrepreneurs

by the numbers

The Lone Star State has again ranked among the top states for Black entrepreneurs, but Texas didn't rank as highly as it did in 2022.

According to Merchant Maverick’s latest annual report on the state of Black businesses, Texas has landed in the No. 8 spot for the best states for Black entrepreneurs. While the state maintains a position in the top 10, Texas has dropped from its No. 3 spot last year.

Guided by metrics including Black-owned businesses per million residents, percentage of the state’s workforce employed by Black-owned businesses, average annual payroll of Black-owned businesses, average annual income of Black business owners, regional price parity, a cost of living indicator, unemployment rate, and Top state income tax bracket rates, the report also noted the following key takeaways:

The Lone Star State is:

  • No. 9 for highest average annual income.
  • Home to 360 Black-owned businesses per capita.
  • No. 15 highest in the nation for percentage of the workforce working for Black businesses.

Black businesses continue to see success all over the state.

The largest Black tech conference in the country, the 2023 AfroTech Conference, recently returned to Austin for the second straight year at the Austin Convention Center. The five-day conference united over 300 companies – including Amazon, Meta, and Google – to expand the representation of Black Americans in STEM fields.

In 2022, a ranking by Black employees at Apartment List put Houston at No. 4 among the best cities for Black professionals. The Apartment List employees judged 82 cities in four categories: Business environment for Black professionals. Houston ranks third. Black community and representation. Houston ranks fourth. Economic opportunities for Black professionals. Houston ranks seventh. Housing opportunities for Black professionals. Houston ranks No. 20.

Growth also was reflected post-pandemic for Black-owned startups in Houston according to study by economists at Rice University, Boston University, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The study found that from 2019 to 2020, the startup rate rose 32 percent in four largely Black areas of Houston: Kashmere Gardens, Missouri City, South Acres, and Sunnyside. The statewide startup rate during that period was 10 just at percent.

Texas recently landed on another Merchant Maverick report, also dropping a few spots in Merchant Maverick’s annual ranking of the top 10 states for women-led startups. The Lone Star State landed at No. 5 for women-led startups in 2023, down from No. 2 in 2022. Last year, Texas ranked second, up from its No. 6 showing in 2021.
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Houston family's $20M donation drives neurodegeneration research

big impact

Neurodegeneration is one of the cruelest ways to age, but one Houston family is sharing its wealth to invigorate research with the goal of eradicating diseases like Alzheimer’s.

This month, Laurence Belfer announced that his family, led by oil tycoon Robert Belfer, had donated an additional $20 million to the Belfer Neurodegeneration Consortium, a multi-institutional initiative that targets the study and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

This latest sum brings the family’s donations to BNDC to $53.5 million over a little more than a decade. The Belfer family’s recent donation will be matched by institutional philanthropic efforts, meaning BNDC will actually be $40 million richer.

BNDC was formed in 2012 to help scientists gain stronger awareness of neurodegenerative disease biology and its potential treatments. It incorporates not only The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, but also Baylor College of Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

It is the BNDC’s lofty objective to develop five new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders over the next 10 years, with two treatments to demonstrate clinical efficacy.

“Our goal is ambitious, but having access to the vast clinical trial expertise at MD Anderson ensures our therapeutics can improve the lives of patients everywhere,” BNDC Executive Director Jim Ray says in a press release. “The key elements for success are in place: a powerful research model, a winning collaborative team and a robust translational pipeline, all in the right place at the right time.”

It may seem out of place that this research is happening at MD Anderson, but scientists are delving into the intersection between cancer and neurological disease through the hospital’s Cancer Neuroscience Program.

“Since the consortium was formed, we have made tremendous progress in our understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of neurodegenerative diseases and in translating those findings into effective targeted drugs and diagnostics for patients,” Ray continues. “Yet, we still have more work to do. Alzheimer's disease is already the most expensive disease in the United States. As our population continues to age, addressing quality-of-life issues and other challenges of treating and living with age-associated diseases must become a priority.”

And for the magnanimous Belfer family, it already is.

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: Every week, I introduce you to a handful of Houston innovators to know recently making headlines with news of innovative technology, investment activity, and more. This week's batch includes a podcast with the founder of a new venture firm, a former astronaut and recent award recipient, and a health care innovator with fresh funding.

Zach Ellis, founder and managing partner of South Loop Ventures

Zach Ellis explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast that South Loop Ventures plans to invest in promising companies from across the country and bring them into Houston's ecosystem to grow and scale. Photo via LinkedIn

Houston has a lot of the right ingredients for commercialization and scaling up companies, so when Zach Ellis moved to town to stand up a venture capital firm that made investments in diverse founders, he decided to go about it in an innovative way.

South Loop Ventures, which Ellis launched two years ago, invests in pre-seed and seed-stage startups across health care, climatetech, aerospace, sports, and fintech. While the first handful of investments, which have already been made, are into Houston-based companies, Ellis explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast that the firm plans to invest in promising companies from across the country and bring them into Houston's ecosystem to grow and scale.

"Any investor wants to feel like they are looking at the best possible investment opportunities in which to deploy capital," Ellis says on the show. "So that's reason No. 1 to cast your net as widely as possible.

"At the same time, you want to give any investment that you make greatest chances of success," he continues. "The biggest factor of success outside of the team and the capital you give them, is the customers that they can call upon. In bringing targeted companies to Houston or connecting them with Houston, you introduce the opportunity for them to achieve rapid scale and work with world-class partners very efficiently." Read more.


Toby R. Hamilton, founder and CEO of Hamilton Health Box

Dr. Toby Hamilton has secured $10 million to grow his company. Photo via tmc.edu

A Houston company that is working on a value-based model for primary care has fresh funding to support its mission.

Hamilton Health Box announced the completion of a $10 million series A funding round led by 1588 Ventures with participation from Memorial Hermann Health System, Impact Ventures by Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Texas Medical Center Venture Fund, and the Sullivan Brothers.

The company, founded in 2019 by Dr. Toby R. Hamilton, will use the funding to fuel its expansion into rural areas to help assist those living in Health Professional Shortage Areas, or HPSAs. Read more.

Ellen Ochoa, former astronaut and center director at the NASA's Johnson Space Center

Ellen Ochoa was recognized for her leadership at NASA Johnson and for being the first Hispanic woman in space. Photo via NASA

Two astronauts recently received Presidential Medals of Freedom from President Joe Biden for their leadership in space.

Ellen Ochoa, the former center director and astronaut at the NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Jane Rigby, senior project scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, were honored at the White House on May 3.

Ochoa spent 30 years with NASA, which included being the 11th director of JSC, deputy center director of JSC, and director of Flight Crew Operations. She served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993, and became the first Hispanic woman in space. She flew four more times to space with STS-66, STS-96, STS-110, and more.

“I’m so grateful for all my amazing NASA colleagues who shared my career journey with me,” Ochoa says in a NASA news release. Read more.

Houston health care institutions receive $22M to attract top recruits

coming to Hou

Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine has received a total of $12 million in grants from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas to attract two prominent researchers.

The two grants, which are $6 million each, are earmarked for recruitment of Thomas Milner and Radek Skoda. The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced the grants May 14.

Milner, an expert in photomedicine for surgery and diagnostics, is a professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic at the University of California, Irvine and the university’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

In 2013, Milner was named Inventor of the Year by the University of Texas at Austin. At the time, he was a professor of biomedical engineering at UT. One of his major achievements is co-development of the MasSpec Pen, a handheld device that identifies cancerous tissue within 10 seconds during surgical procedures.

Skoda is a professor of molecular medicine in the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel, both in Switzerland. He specializes in developing treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasms, which are a group of blood diseases including leukemia.

Other recruitment grants provided by the institute to Houston-area organizations are:

  • $4 million for recruitment of Susan Bullman to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She was an assistant professor at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, where she studied the connection between microbes and cancer.
  • $4 million for recruitment of Oren Rom to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Rom is an assistant professor of pathology and translational pathobiology at Louisiana State University Shreveport.
  • Nearly $2 million for recruitment of Lauren Hagler to conduct RNA cancer biology at Texas A&M University. She is a postdoctoral scholar in biochemistry at Stanford University.

The institute also awarded grants to five companies in the Houston area:

  • $4.7 million to 7 Hills Pharma for development of immunotherapies to treat cancer and prevent infectious diseases.
  • $4.5 million to Indapta Therapeutics for the Phase 1 trial of a cell therapy for treatment of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • $2.75 million to Bectas Therapeutics for development of antibodies and biomarkers to overcome a type of resistance T-cell checkpoint therapy.
  • $2.69 million to MS Pen Technologies for development of technology that differentiates between normal tissue and cancerous tissue during surgery.
  • $2.58 million to Crossbridge Bio for development of an antibody-drug combination to treat certain solid tumors.