The Houston area boasts some top-tier employers. Photo by Getty Images

A slew of Houston-area companies may soon see a surge of inquiries and resumes, thanks to a new ranking.

Great Place to Work, which helps employers improve their workplace culture, and Fortune magazine teamed up to select the Best Companies to Work For in 2022 in two categories: small and midsize employers, and large employers.

In the new report, powerhouse Houston-based builder/developer David Weekley Homes tops the list of the top 20 large employers in Texas — a big jump from its No. 20 spot last year.

“We are incredibly honored to be recognized as the top company on the Best Workplaces in Texas list,” said Robert Hefner, vice president of Human Resources for David Weekley Homes, in a statement. “We’re very proud to offer an amazing workplace culture as well as competitive benefits and perks for our team, which inspires them to delight our customers.”

Powerhouse business IT firm Hewlett Packard Enterprise follows on the large employer list at No. 2, followed by apartment owner and operator Camden Property Trust at No. 3. Mortgage lender Cornerstone Home Lending, commercial real estate company Transwestern, and community college system Lone Star College also land on the prestigious list.

Meanwhile, four of Texas’ top 20 small and midsize employers to work for are right here in the Houston area. They are: mortgage provider Republic State Mortgage, online education hub Continued, oil and gas consulting firm E.A.G. Services, and AI-based e-commerce firm PROS.

Here’s the list of the top 20 small and midsize employers on the list of the Best Companies to Work For:

  1. Credera, Addison
  2. Bestow, life insurance company, Dallas
  3. Publishing Concepts, collector of oral histories, Dallas
  4. Pariveda Solutions, business and technology consulting firm, Dallas
  5. 49 Financial, financial planning provider, Austin
  6. Highland Homes, homebuilder, Plano
  7. AIM, provider of special education services, San Antonio
  8. Republic State Mortgage, mortgage provider, Houston
  9. Continued, provider of online continuing education, Houston
  10. Freese and Nichols, engineering, planning, and consulting firm, Fort Worth
  11. OJO Labs, home search platform, Austin
  12. Dialexa, digital product consulting firm, Dallas
  13. Granite Properties, commercial real estate developer, investor, and manager, Plano
  14. E.A.G. Services, oil and gas consulting firm, Houston
  15. Ontic Technologies, producer of “protective intelligence” software, Austin
  16. PROS, provider of AI-based software for e-commerce, Houston
  17. Scribe Media, book publisher, Austin
  18. Embark, business advisory firm, Dallas
  19. ProPath, operator of pathology practices, Dallas
  20. CerpassRX, pharmacy benefits manager, The Colony

Here’s the list of the top 20 large employers in Texas, according to Great Place to Work and Fortune:

  1. David Weekley Homes, homebuilder, Houston
  2. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, provider of business IT, Spring
  3. Camden Property Trust, apartment owner and operator, Houston
  4. Texas Health Resources, healthcare system, Arlington
  5. Vizient, healthcare consulting firm, Irving
  6. Ryan LLC, tax services and consulting firm, Dallas
  7. Hilcorp Energy, energy exploration and production company, Houston
  8. PrimeLending, a Plains Capital Company, mortgage lender, Dallas
  9. Cornerstone Home Lending, mortgage lender, Houston
  10. Transwestern, commercial real estate company, Houston
  11. Dell Technologies, seller of personal computers, network servers, data storage services, and software, Round Rock
  12. NuStar Energy, pipeline and terminal operator, San Antonio
  13. Mr. Cooper (Nationstar Mortgage), mortgage lender, Coppell
  14. Lone Star College, community college system, Houston
  15. USAA, financial services provider, San Antonio
  16. Sailpoint, provider of identity security software, Austin
  17. Enhabit Home Health & Hospice, home health and hospice provider, Dallas
  18. Epicor Software, provider of software for business process management, Austin
  19. Hilti, provider of tools and technology for construction companies, Plano
  20. Alcon Laboratories, producer of eye care products, Fort Worth

Great Place to Work selected the Best Companies to Work For in 2022 based on feedback from employee surveys and data from Great Place to Work-certified employers.

“As workers struggle with the Great Resignation, burnout, and COVID disruptions, these exceptional companies offer workplace experiences as strong as prior to the pandemic,” says company CEO Michael Bush.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Three Houston companies have been recognized for their superior work environments. Getty Images

3 Houston employers clock in among Fortune's 100 best companies to work

best of the best

Hunting for a job in Houston? A new ranking from Fortune magazine suggests you might consider three local companies.

Camden Property Trust, David Weekley Homes, and Hilcorp Energy Co. all rank on Fortune's 2020 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, published February 18.

Fortune bases its annual list of the best workplaces on a nationwide study done by analytics firm Great Place to Work. This time around, the study featured input from more than 4.1 million U.S. workers who responded to over 60 survey questions.

Houston-based apartment owner and operator Camden Property Trust comes in at No. 18, an improvement over last year's rank of 19. The real estate owner and operator is known for a lighthearted corporate culture that has seen executives willing to poke fun at themselves and others at company events and celebrations, according to the list.

Camden Property Trust continues to be one of Houston's best places to work. Camden Property Trust/Facebook

There are also perks to working for an apartment landlord; 44 percent of employees live in Camden-owned apartments and take advantage of a 20 percent rent-discount benefit that collectively saves them more than $1.9 million per year.

Not far down the list, at No. 23, is Houston-based homebuilder David Weekley Homes, which makes a big leap over last year's rank of 41. Family comes first at this nationwide homebuilding company, says the report. Prospective employees often participate in Key Influencer Visits, where they are interviewed (often in their homes) alongside family members or close friends to help hiring managers better understand their personalities and backgrounds.

There's also an internship program designed specifically for employees' children and a discount on homes sold to staffers and their family members (a set percentage based on tenure). One worker says, "It really exemplifies how the company puts the employees first, even before customers."

New to the list this year is Houston-based oil and gas production company Hilcorp Energy Co. The largest privately held oil and natural-gas production company in the U.S., Hilcorp challenges its employees to think in terms of Big Hairy Audacious Goals, the lofty performance goals it sets every five years. For every BHAG met, employees are rewarded with significant cash bonuses and even new cars.

To meet these goals, CEO Greg Lalicker believes, total transparency is a must, from frontline employees to the CFO, according to the report. All financials, cash flow, investments, oil- and gas-price impacts, BHAG progress reports, and other critical information are shared in monthly, companywide "lifting cost" meetings. "It blows your mind to be in your first lifting-cost meeting and hear supersecret information," recalls one new hire.

Five other Texas-based employers also appear on this year's list:

  • No. 15. - Arlington-based Texas Health Resources ranks first among Texas-based employers and 15th nationwide on Last year, the organization ranked ninth nationwide.
  • No. 55. - San Antonio-based financial services provider USAA. Last year's rank: 30.
  • No. - 66. Dallas-based Ryan LLC, a provider of tax software and services. Last year's rank: 52.
  • No. 86. - San Antonio-based oil pipeline and terminal operator NuStar Energy LP. Last year it was unranked.
  • No. 88. - Dallas-based Encompass Health Home Health & Hospice, part of Birmingham, Alabama-based Encompass Health Corp. Last year's rank: 54.

Nationwide, McLean, Virginia-based Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. ranks first on this year's Fortune list, followed by Weston, Florida-based Ultimate Software Group Inc., Rochester, New York-based Wegmans Food Markets Inc., San Jose, California-based Cisco Systems Inc., and Pleasanton, California-based Workday Inc.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston college lands $5M NASA grant to launch new aerospace research center

to infinity and beyond

The University of Houston was one of seven minority-serving institutions to receive a nearly $5 million grant this month to support aerospace research focused on extending human presence on the moon and Mars.

The $4,996,136 grant over five years is funded by the NASA Office of STEM Engagement Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) program. It will go toward creating the NASA MIRO Inflatable Deployable Environments and Adaptive Space Systems (IDEAS2) Center at UH, according to a statement from the university.

“The vision of the IDEAS2 Center is to become a premier national innovation hub that propels NASA-centric, state-of-the-art research and promotes 21st-century aerospace education,” Karolos Grigoriadis, Moores Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of aerospace engineering at UH, said in a statement.

Another goal of the grant is to develop the next generation of aerospace professionals.

Graduate, undergraduate and even middle and high school students will conduct research out of IDEAS2 and work closely with the Johnson Space Center, located in the Houston area.

The center will collaborate with Texas A&M University, Houston Community College, San Jacinto College and Stanford University.

Grigoriadis will lead the center. Dimitris Lagoudas, from Texas A&M University, and Olga Bannova, UH's research professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Space Architecture graduate program, will serve as associate directors.

"Our mission is to establish a sustainable nexus of excellence in aerospace engineering research and education supported by targeted multi-institutional collaborations, strategic partnerships and diverse educational initiatives,” Grigoriadis said.

Industrial partners include Boeing, Axiom Space, Bastion Technologies and Lockheed Martin, according to UH.

UH is part of 21 higher-education institutions to receive about $45 million through NASA MUREP grants.

According to NASA, the six other universities to received about $5 million MIRO grants over five years and their projects includes:

  • Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage: Alaska Pacific University Microplastics Research and Education Center
  • California State University in Fullerton: SpaceIgnite Center for Advanced Research-Education in Combustion
  • City University of New York, Hunter College in New York: NASA-Hunter College Center for Advanced Energy Storage for Space
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee: Integrative Space Additive Manufacturing: Opportunities for Workforce-Development in NASA Related Materials Research and Education
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark:AI Powered Solar Eruption Center of Excellence in Research and Education
  • University of Illinois in Chicago: Center for In-Space Manufacturing: Recycling and Regolith Processing

Fourteen other institutions will receive up to $750,000 each over the course of a three-year period. Those include:

  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
  • West Virginia University in Morgantown
  • University of Puerto Rico in San Juan
  • Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
  • Oklahoma State University in Stillwater
  • Iowa State University in Ames
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks
  • University of the Virgin Islands in Charlotte Amalie
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu
  • University of Idaho in Moscow
  • University of Arkansas in Little Rock
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City
  • Satellite Datastreams

NASA's MUREP hosted its annual "Space Tank" pitch event at Space Center Houston last month. Teams from across the country — including three Texas teams — pitched business plans based on NASA-originated technology. Click here to learn more about the seven finalists.

Booming Houston suburb, other Texas towns among the fastest-growing U.S. cities in 2023

by the numbers

One Houston suburb experienced one of the most rapid growth spurts in the country last year: Fulshear, whose population grew by 25.6 percent, more than 51 times that of the nation’s growth rate of 0.5 percent. The city's population was 42,616 as of July 1, 2023.

According to U.S. Census Bureau's Vintage 2023 Population Estimates, released Thursday, May 16, Fulshear — which lies west of Katy in northwest Fort Bend County - ranked No. 2 on the list of fastest-growing cities with a population of 20,000 or more. It's no wonder iconic Houston restaurants like Molina's Cantina see opportunities there.

The South still dominates the nation's growth, even as America’s Northeast and Midwest cities are rebounding slightly from years of population drops. The census estimates showed 13 of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. were in the South — eight in Texas alone.

The Texas cities joining Fulshear on the fastest-growing-cities list are:

  • Celina (No. 1) with 26.6 percent growth (42,616 total population)
  • Princeton (No. 3) with 22.3 percent growth (28,027 total population)
  • Anna (No. 4) with 16.9 percent growth (27,501 total population)
  • Georgetown (No. 8) with 10.6 percent growth (96,312 total population)
  • Prosper (No. 9) with 10.5 percent growth (41,660 total population)
  • Forney (No. 10) with 10.4 percent growth (35,470 total population)
  • Kyle (No. 11) with 9 percent growth (62,548 total population)

Texas trends
San Antonio saw the biggest growth spurt in the United States last year, numbers-wise. The Alamo City added about 22,000 residents. San Antonio now has nearly 1.5 million people, making it the the seventh largest city in the U.S. and second largest in Texas.

Its population boom was followed by those of other Southern cities, including Fort Worth; Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Fast-growing Fort Worth (978,000) surpassed San Jose, California (970,000) to become the 12th most populous city in the country.

Meanwhile, population slowed in the Austin area. Jacksonville, Florida (986,000), outpaced Austin (980,000), pushing the Texas capital to 11th largest city in the U.S. (barely ahead of Fort Worth).

Population growth in Georgetown, outside Austin, slowed by more than one-fourth its population growth in 2022, the report says, from 14.4 percent to 10.6 percent. It's the same story in the Central Texas city of Kyle, whose population growth decreased by nearly 2 percent to 9 percent in 2023.

Most populated cities
New York City with nearly 8.3 million people remained the nation's largest city in population as of July 1, 2023. Los Angeles was second at close to 4 million residents, while Chicago was third at 2.7 million and Houston was fourth at 2.3 million residents.

The 15 populous U.S. cities in 2023 were:

  1. New York, New York (8.3 million)
  2. Los Angeles, California (4 million)
  3. Chicago, Illinois (2.7 million)
  4. Houston, Texas (2.3 million)
  5. Phoenix, Arizona (1.7 million)
  6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1.6 million)
  7. San Antonio (1.5 million)
  8. San Diego, California (1.4 million)
  9. Dallas (1.3 million)
  10. Jacksonville, Florida (986,000)
  11. Austin (980,000)
  12. Fort Worth (978,000)
  13. San Jose (970,000)
  14. Columbus, Ohio (913,000)
  15. Charlotte, North Carolina (911,000)

Modest reversals of population declines were seen last year in large cities in the nation's Northeast and Midwest. Detroit, for example, which grew for the first time in decades, had seen an exodus of people since the 1950s. Yet the estimates released Thursday show the population of Michigan’s largest city rose by just 1,852 people from 631,366 in 2022 to 633,218 last year.

It's a milestone for Detroit, which had 1.8 million residents in the 1950s only to see its population dwindle and then plummet through suburban white flight, a 1967 race riot, the migration to the suburbs by many of the Black middle class and the national economic downturn that foreshadowed the city's 2013 bankruptcy filing.

Three of the largest cities in the U.S. that had been bleeding residents this decade staunched those departures somewhat. New York City, which has lost almost 550,000 residents this decade so far, saw a drop of only 77,000 residents last year, about three-fifths the numbers from the previous year.

Los Angeles lost only 1,800 people last year, following a decline in the 2020s of almost 78,000 residents. Chicago, which has lost almost 82,000 people this decade, only had a population drop of 8,200 residents last year.

And San Francisco, which has lost a greater share of residents this decade than any other big city — almost 7.5 percent — actually grew by more than 1,200 residents last year.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

How this Houston clean energy entrepreneur is navigating geothermal's hype to 100x business growth

houston innovators podcast Episode 237

Geothermal energy has been growing in recognition as a major player in the clean energy mix, and while many might think of it as a new climatetech solution, Tim Latimer, co-founder and CEO of Fervo Energy, knows better.

"Every overnight success is a decade in the making, and I think Fervo, fortunately — and geothermal as a whole — has become much more high profile recently as people realize that it can be a tremendous solution to the challenges that our energy sector and climate are facing," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

In fact, Latimer has been bullish on geothermal as a clean energy source since he quit his job as a drilling engineer in oil and gas to pursue a dual degree program — MBA and master's in earth sciences — at Stanford University. He had decided that, with the reluctance of incumbent energy companies to try new technologies, he was going to figure out how to start his own company. Through the Stanford program and Activate, a nonprofit hardtech program that funded two years of Fervo's research and development, Latimer did just that.

And the bet has more than paid off. Since officially launching in 2017, Fervo Energy has raised over $430 million — most recently collecting a $244 million series D round. Even more impressive to Latimer — his idea for drilling horizontal wells works. The company celebrated a successful pilot program last summer by achieving continuous carbon-free geothermal energy production with Project Red, a northern Nevada site made possible through a 2021 partnership with Google.

Next up for Fervo is growing and scaling at around a 100x pace. While Project Red included three wells, Project Cape, a Southwest Utah site, will include around 100 wells with significantly reduced drilling cost and an estimated 2026 delivery. Latimer says there are a dozen other projects like Project Cape that are in the works.

"It's a huge ramp up in our drilling, construction, and powerplant programs from our pilot project, but we've already had tremendous success there," Latimer says of Project Cape. "We think our technology has a really bright future."

While Latimer looks ahead to the rapid growth of Fervo Energy, he says it's all due to the foundation he put in place for the company, which has a culture built on the motto, "Build things that last."

“You’re not going to get somewhere that really changes the world by cutting corners and taking short steps. And, if you want to move the needle on something as complicated as the global energy system that has been built up over hundreds of years with trillions of dollars of capital invested in it – you’re not going to do it overnight," he says on the show. "We’re all in this for the long haul together."