Redemption Square in Generation Park will feature high-tech parking solution pilot program. Photo via generationpark.com

Houston real estate company McCord Development will roll out an innovative 12-week pilot to learn how to make parking smarter at its master planned development Generation Park in Northeast Houston.

In partnership with Milwaukee-based CivicSmart Inc., a leader in Smart City parking, the company will test a new Internet-of-Things-based parking solution at Generation Park's mixed-use lifestyle center, Redemption Square. The program is only the second of its kind in the U.S., according to McCord.

McCord will install 30 of CivicSmart's solar powered bollards at Redemption Square that track real-time parking occupancy data through LTE license-plate-reading cameras. The data will be analyzed to help McCord optimize traffic and develop better strategies and parking rates.

"We are thrilled to introduce one of the first parking pilot programs in the country,” Ashwin Chandran, Director of Technology Innovation at McCord, said in a statement. “At McCord, we strive to measure and understand behavior in order to enhance the human experience and make efficient business decisions. We hope to use this data to improve the overall performance of our operations across all our assets.”

According to the statement, the intention of the program is to help keep curbside spots available for short-term guests.

From the customer perspective, parkers will pay via text or QR code, where they will enter their license plate number and payment information, which will be stored for subsequent visits.

The bollards can also dispatch up-to-the-minute pricing details to parkers, and can be controlled remotely by the developer to close certain parking spots for special events.

In addition to the 30 bollards, Redemption Square will still also offer free parking in its nearby garage, and other parking options on Redemption Square Road and metered spaces on Assay Street, according to the statement.

Last week, McCord also announced plans to create a 45-acre biomanufacturing campus within the 4,300-acre Generation Park development. Known as BioHub Two, the center will include 500,000 square feet for manufacturing, lab, and office space. It's slated to join San Jacinto College’s Biotech Training Center in the development, which was announced last December.

Other plans for Generation Park include two multifamily complexes, a mixed-use development called The Commons, and retail and green spaces.

McCord will install 30 of CivicSmart's solar powered bollards at Redemption Square that track real-time parking occupancy data through LTE license-plate-reading cameras. Photo courtesy of Generation Park

Generation Park has announced additional biomanufacturing facility development. Rendering courtesy of McCord

Real estate company unveils plans for 45-acre biomanufacturing campus in Northeast Houston

life science upgrade

A Houston-based real estate company has reveals its plans to create a 45-acre biomanufacturing campus in the first phase of a life science development in Generation Park.

McCord Development released its plans for BioHub Two this week. The project will include 500,000 square feet for manufacturing, lab, and office space located in Generation Park, a 4,300-acre master-planned development in Northeast Houston.

The news of the BioHub follows Generation Park's December announcement of the San Jacinto College’s Biotech Training Center, a project in partnership with the National Institute of Biotechnology Research and Training. The institute will have a "bioprocessing pilot plant operated in a realistic GMP simulated and operational manufacturing environment," according to a news release from McCord.

“Houston has consistently been ranked as a burgeoning life science cluster, and BioHub Two has the unique advantage of being a short walk from the region’s only Biotech Training Center at San Jacinto College’s Generation Park campus," says John Flournoy, senior director of sales and leasing.

Last year, the Greater Houston Partnership released data showing the potential for the Bayou City as a hub for biomanufacturing, cell and gene therapy, cancer treatment, drug development, and more. Earlier this summer, Houston maintained its standing as a hub for life sciences on an annual report from CBRE.

“Houston’s high concentration of life sciences employment, healthy funding landscape, access to the Texas’ $6 billion CPRIT grant fund, and commitment to translational research is making it one of the country’s fastest growing life science ecosystems,” says Ryan McCord, president of McCord Development, in the release. “BioHub Two’s location in Generation Park is strategic and cost-effective, as the world-leading research and development facilities at the Texas Medical Center, Houston International Airport and Port of Houston are in close proximity.”

The larger Generation Part plans include two multifamily complexes, a mixed-use development called The Commons, and retail and green spaces.

The Texas Medical Center unveiled its plans for the TMC BioPort, a biomanufacturing and medical supplies distribution engine, almost a year ago. This new campus will span several hundred acres just down the road from TMC and will drive the much-needed repatriation of critical medical supplies and new cell and gene therapies, per a news release.

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Houston investors back new platform for retail traders looking to follow financial influencers

making a splash

As anyone who witnessed the impact Gamestop's meme stock had on the country already realizes, influential investors can drive momentum within the financial sector. And one company with fresh funding from a Houston firm is betting on that exactly.

CashPool is a new mobile platform that gives everyday investors the opportunity to derive influence from the investment strategies and trades made by trusted and influential stock traders who have built substantial followings on social media platforms. By allowing retail traders the chance to join social media influencers’ various “pools” on its platform, CashPool is primed to change the way the masses acquire wealth.

This is the kind of algorithmic trading aimed at a new generation of investors that gets the attention of early-stage venture capital funds like Houston-based Ten X Labs, a pre-seed angel fund that recently invested in CashPool to help the trading platform continue its mission of transforming the investment landscape.

"We are thrilled to receive funding from Ten X Labs, as it validates our innovative approach to trading and investing," CashPool Founder and CEO Averett Barksdale says in a news release. "This investment will enable us to further enhance our platform, expand our user base and continue to revolutionize the industry. We believe that everyone should have transparent, governed access to profitable trading and investment opportunities, and through CashPool we are making that vision a reality."

Connecting the dots

CashPool is broker agnostic connector, allowing its users to keep their current brokers like Robinhood, Coinbase, Charles Schwab, Acorns, Fidelity, ETRADE, Stash, Sofi and Betterment and creates a seamless investment experience.

“We are that middle piece,” says Barksdale. “So your money stays on whatever brokerage you’ve connected to the platform, and we just execute the trades on your brokerage for you.”

Considering that users’ money remains with their original brokerage, how does CashPool monetize its platform?

“We don’t charge users to execute trades,” says Barksdale. “We charge per pool you join. So, on our platform, strategies are called pools and a user can join as many strategies as they want.”

Financial influencers set the strategies. These are profitable traders who have become influencers on various social media platforms and built-up followings comprised of people who are or are desiring to be retail traders themselves.

“There are a ton of people out there who actually are profitable traders,” says Barksdale. “Same as what we saw happen with GameStop and the whole Reddit situation. That was a financial influencer, right? It just so happens that he had a strategy that he thought would work and it turned out for a while it did work, right?

“We want to not only empower the retail trader, but empower these financial influencers who are profitable as well. Just because it's a whole marketplace out there for it. But a lot of times the retail trader doesn't quite understand who to go with. On our platform, you could see the results of these financial influencers right before your eyes on our platform. So you can see if they're profitable or not, or if someone's just on Instagram or whatever, social media platform posting screenshots but aren’t actually executing those trades.”

Increasing transparency

With trading, past success can be an arbiter for future performance, so with CashPool, users can choose to join the pools of influencers who have documented success as a trader on the platform.

“On our platform you can't hide,” says Barksdale. “We're connected to their brokerage account, so we see what trades they're making in real time. We also see their performance in real time, and we display that on the platform. That's something that you really can't get around. So if someone on Instagram says they traded this stock, then I made X amount of dollars and had this percentage of return, then you go to the platform and look at your pool and see they didn't do that and were lying the whole time, it’s literally just putting everything out there in the open. We have the kind of transparency that doesn't exist currently right now in the space.”

Broadcasting one’s successes is easy, but what about the losses?

“I thought it was going to be a lot more difficult just thinking, do people really want to show what they're doing?” says Barksdale. “But the thing that I've seen is a lot of these traders are a whole lot more competitive. And the traders who are doing it, they're constantly talking out against people who aren't actually doing it in real life.

“A lot of the traders who are actually profitable, they do live trades every day. But how do users if they should pay to get into a specific trader’s live trading session? Like, how do they know they're profitable already?

“On CashPool, users can see an actual influencer's win rate and say, 'Okay, 86 percent of the time they are profitable, and I could see how many trades they've made in total.' From that standpoint, users can make an educated decision on what pools to join and pay for.”

CashPool users can join as many pools as they see fit, but the cost of each pool’s membership may vary due to the popularity or success percentage rate of the financial influencer.

“You can join as many pools as you want, but what we suggest is you start by joining the pools of influencers that you already follow and trust, that you're already following like on Twitter or YouTube or Instagram or whatever it may be,” says Barksdale. “We are suggesting that you follow them first and you join their pools first. What we do is on the monetization side is we allow the creators on our platform who are the influencers to set their own price for their pool.”

Building a secure network

Outside of who or what to follow, information security is likely a concern for potential users. Financial influencers’ trade information is readily available (win percentages and number of trades, not dollar amounts), but users’ won’t be able to see other users’ information on the platform.

“Currently, we have a list of 10 brokerages who are on board, and then we're working to onboard more as we keep going on,” says Barksdale. “So, we have like your Interactive brokerages, and we also have a few other ones that are UK specific and Canada specific. We would love to have every single brokerage on the platform, but unfortunately, there are a couple that are still kind of playing hard to get, so to speak.”

The first rollout of CashPool is set, but version two will likely include content creation from the financial influencers.

Barksdale, who has a background in product development and experience working at companies like Charles Schwab and Fidelity, is mostly excited about the prospect of CashPool unlocking expert financial strategies for everyone, not just the financial advisors behind the closed doors of Wall Street.

“Yes, my philosophy is that financial health and financial growth should be accessible for all,” says Barksdale. “The thing that gets me is it needs to be responsible. So, for example, RobinHood is a platform that doesn't necessarily care if you are making responsible decisions, they just care that you're trading on that platform.

“Our platform is strictly focused on actually being the place where these retail traders can make responsible decisions centered around investing and trading.”

Tech companies contribute to recovery fund for those affected by Houston storm

helping hands

The past month in Houston has been marked by severe flooding and a sudden storm that left nearly a million residents without power. The Houston Disaster Alliance has established the Severe Weather and Derecho Recovery Fund to help those impacted by the weather.

“The Greater Houston Disaster Alliance was formed so that in times of crisis, there is a swift and efficient response to help those severely impacted begin the process of recovery,” said Stephen Maislin, president and CEO, Greater Houston Community Foundation. “When disaster strikes, it requires a collaborative and coordinated response from the nonprofit, for-profit, public sector, and philanthropic community to ensure the most vulnerable in our region get the help they need to start the recovery and rebuilding process.”

At least a million dollars has been donated to the fund, courtesy of $500,000 from the CenterPoint Energy Foundation and another $500,000 from Comcast. With Houston now a federally declared disaster area by President Joe Biden, impacted residents are able to apply for various grants and aid.

Those still struggling from the weather events should call the 211 Texas/United Way HELPLINE. Assistance is available for housing, utilities, food, elder assistance, and other areas. Crisis counseling is also available.

“Outside of times of disaster, we know that 14 percent of households in our region are struggling on income below the federal poverty line and 31 percent of households in our region are working hard but struggling to make ends meet. It’s these neighbors who are disproportionately impacted when disaster strikes,” said Amanda McMillian, president and CEO, United Way of Greater Houston. “This fund allows us to lift up the most vulnerable who have been impacted by recent weather events to ensure they can not only recover from the immediate crisis, but also prepare themselves for future disasters.”

The derecho storm that hit Houston on Thursday, May 16 had wind gusts up to 100mph. Nearly a million people in the Houston area were left without power, and as of Wednesday CenterPoint was still working to restore electricity to more than 60,000 people. Photos showed that the storm toppled massive power pylons, took down trees, and even ripped the sides off buildings. Miniature tornadoes touched down in parts of the city, adding to the devastation.

The Houston Disaster Alliance was launched in 2023 as a joint effort between the Greater Houston Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Houston to help mitigate the damage of weather crises year-round. This has become increasingly necessary as Houston's weather has become more unpredictable than ever.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.