Jeffery and Mindy Hildebrand are noted for their service to employees and community. Photo by Anthony Rathbun

According to Forbes, half of all of the world’s billionaires are less wealthy than they were in 2022. But that’s not the case for most Houston-area billionaires like oil tycoon Jeffery Hildebrand, who was named the richest man in the city.

The 2023 edition of Forbes’ World’s Billionaires List declared Hildebrand’s net worth at $10.2 billion, placing him as the 171st richest person in the world. His fortune is $2.7 billion higher than his 2022 net worth of $7.5 billion, when he ranked No. 316 on the list.

As CultureMap reported, in 2015, Hildebrand made headlines when he gifted each of his 1,381 employees a $100,000 holiday bonus.

Houston’s favorite hospitality mogul and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is the city’s second-richest man, with his net worth climbing up to $8.1 billion. He ranked No. 256 on Forbes’ list, substantially higher than his No. 471 rank in 2022 when his net worth was $5.6 billion. Fertitta is surely living life to the fullest after hosting Miami rapper Pitbull at his San Luis Salute celebration earlier this year.

Tilman Fertitta Shut Up and Listen book laughing

Tilman Fertitta is sitting pretty at No. 2. Photo by J. Thomas Ford

Other Houston-area billionaires that made Forbes 2023 world’s richest list are:

  • Pipeline magnate Richard Kinder: tied for No. 317, $7.2 billion, down from $7.5 billion
  • Houston siblings and pipeline heirs Dannine Avara, Scott Duncan, Milane Frantz, and Randa Duncan Williams: all tied for No. 352, $6.8 billion, up from $6.6 billion
  • Toyota mega-dealer Dan Friedkin: tied for No. 466, $5.5 billion, up from $4.3 billion
  • Houston Texans owner Janice McNair: tied for No. 534, $5 billion, up from $4.2 billion
  • Hedge fund honcho John Arnold: tied for No. 878, $3.3 billion, unchanged since 2018
  • Energy exploration chief exec George Bishop: tied for No. 982, $3 billion, up from $2.7 billion
New to the 2023 report is Kamal Ghaffarian, the co-founder and executive chairman of Houston's Axiom Space, with a net worth of $2.1 billion. Though his LinkedIn notes that he is based in Maryland, reports add that he resides in Florida. His Forbes rank is No. 1434.An honorable mention (and billionaire newbie) is Amy Adams Strunk, the controlling owner of the Tennessee Titans and daughter of Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams. She has a residence in Waller (about 40 miles northwest of Houston) and her net worth is $1.7 billion — making her No. 1725 on the list.One name missing from Forbes 2023 report is software entrepreneur Robert Brockman, who passed away last August. Brockman fell from grace after he was charged in the largest tax fraud case in U.S. history in 2020. Forbes listed his 2022 net worth at $4.7 billion. He is survived by his wife, son, and two grandchildren.Elsewhere in Texas, Elon Musk reigns as the richest man in the state and in its capital city of Austin with a net worth of $180 billion. The Tesla and Space-X founder is the second richest person in the world, wedging his way between No. 1 Bernard Arnault of France (overseer of the LVMH empire of 75 fashion and cosmetics brands, including Louis Vuitton and Sephora), with a net worth of $211 billion; and No. 3 Jeff Bezos, the American Amazon founder, worth $114 billion.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones'$13.3 billion net worth won him the title of Dallas' richest person, and the 12th richest sports owner on Forbes' "World's Richest Sports Owners 2023." His net worth is up from $10.6 billion last year.

The Fort Worth-based Walmart family heiress Alice Walton earned a spot on Forbes’ list as the third richest woman in the world. Her fortune is pegged at $56.7 billion, down slightly from $65.3 billion last year.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

A TMC construction update, a Q&A with UH's med school donor, and other top health tech stories of 2022. Image courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects

Here are Houston's top health tech innovation stories of the year

2022 in review

Editor's note: As 2022 comes to a close, InnovationMap is looking back at the year's top stories in Houston innovation. In Houston, home to the world's largest medical center, health tech and innovation news is abound — from startups being named among the most promising by investors to new details on the Texas Medical Center's expansion. Here are five Houston health tech-focused articles that stood out to readers this year — be sure to click through to read the full story.


Houston organizations announce 10 most promising life science startups

Houston's medical innovation community congregated to discuss breakthrough innovations in health care. Photo via Getty Images

What startups are creating the future of health care? A Houston conference this week gathered to discuss.

The 10th annual Texas Life Science Forum hosted by BioHouston and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship engaged thought leadership within the life science community with panels, discussions, and more. Additionally, 49 companies pitched their solutions across medical device, therapeutics, pharmaceuticals, and more to the crowd.

The event also named the 10 most promising life science companies selected by investors and presented by the Greater Houston Partnership. Read more.

Houston hospital system to open new innovative location

Houston Methodist broke ground on a 400-bed hospital in Cypress. Rendering courtesy of Houston Methodist

Houston Methodist will soon break ground on a “smart” hospital in Cypress that is poised to be the smartest of its nine hospitals.

The $650 million Cypress hospital will be modeled after Houston Methodist West and Houston Methodist The Woodlands hospitals. However, the Cypress location is on track to outdo them in terms of smart technology.

“Our commitment to innovation is one more way we set ourselves apart from other hospital systems, and we are committed to making this new hospital the most technologically advanced and innovative hospital ever,” Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist, says in a note to employees. Read more.

Following $50M gift,Tilman Fertitta reveals goals for eponymous medical school at University of Houston

Fertitta and his family have gifted $50 million to UH's medical school. Photo courtesy

As Houston’s most high-profile billionaire and owner of the posh 5-star Post Oak Hotel and Houston Rockets, Tilman J. Fertitta has become synonymous with over-the-top opulence and big-time entertainment.

But the CEO of the massive Feritta Entertainment empire’s latest move has nothing to do with penthouses or point guards, but rather a legacy, game-changing appropriation meant to aid his home state’s health.

The longtime UH board member and former chairman and his family have just pledged $50 million to the University of Houston College of Medicine. In turn, the new medical school has been christened the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine. Read more.

TMC unveils details of new bioport, Helix Park at annual Greater Houston Partnership event

TMC gave an update on TMC3 — now called TMC Helix Park — and introduced a new bioport project. Courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects

Within the next five to 10 years, the Texas Medical Center you know today will be double the size. That's what Bill McKeon, president and CEO of the TMC, said at yesterday's State of the Texas Medical Center event hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership.

The biggest project contributing to the TMC's growth is TMC3, a campus expansion that will bring 37 acres and 5 million square feet of space to the TMC, is now known as Helix Park. The name is a nod to the shape of the park and walkway design at the center of the campus. The TMC3 Collaborative Building — the first multi-institutional research facility in TMC’s history — will be the first of the project to deliver and is currently under construction and slated for completion in 2023.

However, the big news of the event was the TMC BioPort, the organization's upcoming biomanufacturing and medical supplies distribution engine. 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. Read more.

Overheard: Houston experts discuss women in med tech, insight from investors, and more

Health care innovators joined Houston Methodist and Texas A&M University's ENMED program to discuss women in health care innovation and venture capital investment. Photo courtesy of Houston Methodist

Houston's health innovation community is making strides every day toward greater quality of care and technology adoption — but what challenges is the industry facing these days?

Through a partnership between Houston Methodist and Texas A&M University's ENMED program at Houston Tech Rodeo, health innovators weighed in on topics surrounding the industry, including biases and investment opportunities.

Missed the conversation? Here are seven key moments from the panels that took place at A&M's new ENMED building in the Texas Medical Center on Thursday, March 3. Read more.

Fertitta and his family have gifted $50 million to UH's medical school. Photo courtesy

Following $50M gift,Tilman Fertitta reveals goals for eponymous medical school at University of Houston

Q&A

As Houston’s most high-profile billionaire and owner of the posh 5-star Post Oak Hotel and Houston Rockets, Tilman J. Fertitta has become synonymous with over-the-top opulence and big-time entertainment.

But the CEO of the massive Feritta Entertainment empire’s latest move has nothing to do with penthouses or point guards, but rather a legacy, game-changing appropriation meant to aid his home state’s health.

The longtime UH board member and former chairman and his family have just pledged $50 million to the University of Houston College of Medicine. In turn, the new medical school has been christened the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine.

The projected school, upon completion. Rendering courtesy of University of Houston

This landmark gift aims to address the state’s critical primary care physician shortage, (especially in low-income and underserved communities), as well as attract innovation-focused scholars, UH notes.

Additionally, the grant is meant to further clinical and translational research, with an emphasis on population health, behavioral health, community engagement, and the social determinants of health, according to a press release.

Here is how the Fertitta family gift will be distributed:

  • $10 million funds five endowed chairs for faculty hires who are considered national stars in their fields with a focus on health care innovation. This portion of the gift will be matched one-to-one as part of the University’s “$100 Million Challenge” for chairs and professorships, doubling the endowed principal to $20 million.
  • $10 million establishes an endowed scholarship fund to support endowed graduate research stipends/fellowships for medical students.
  • $10 million will cover start-up costs for the Fertitta Family College of Medicine to enhance research activities including facilities, equipment, program costs and graduate research stipends/fellowships.
  • $20 million will create the Fertitta Dean’s Endowed Fund to support research-enhancing activities.

No stranger to writing big checks, Fertitta donated $20 million to UH Athletics — the largest individual donation ever — in 2016 to transform UH’s basketball arena into the now high-tech Fertitta Center.

CultureMap caught up with the CEO (who just sold his Golden Nugget gaming for $1.6 billion), best-selling author, and Billion Dollar Buyer to discuss his landmark gift.

CultureMap: Congratulations on this legacy grant, which has been a long time coming. What does this gift mean to you, now that it’s finally official?

Tilman Fertitta: This was a vision of our chancellors and, you know, I’m on my third, six-year term and not been the chairman for eight years — and we started working on this, seven, eight years ago.

To be able to be in the beginning and the nucleus, and the idea, and what we wanted, and to get the approval from Austin—to watch it come to fruition, how often does somebody get to do a naming gift at the same time they had a lot to do with the creation of the school? So, it was very special in my heart.

CM: Many know you as the CEO of a hospitality empire, author, and even TV personality. But not many know of your commitment to healthcare.


TF: I think there’s one thing in this world that we definitely should always be treated equally on, and that's that’s equal health care for all. This medical school will serve the whole community.

We’re trying to recruit students who want to be primary physicians who will take care of the community that we live in. It’s just something that was very important to me in my whole family.

CM: Academia, scholarship, and research aside, this could essentially be looked at as seed capital for a fledgling operation. Is that a fair assessment?

TF: I know where you’re going with this and yes, it’s no different than business.

I have the vision to know that being in nearly the third largest city in America and a top 100 university in the United States — as University of Houston is according to U.S. News & World Report — that I know what this is going to be in 50 years. It’s no different than looking at another business that you start and you can have the vision to see how successful it'll be in the years to come.

Being on the ground floor of the University of Houston Medical School and being a part of it from its inception, and to help the seed money that will attract other money, I know that in the years to come what a special nationwide medical school this is going to be — because it’s in one of the great cities of America.

So, to be a part of it today and still be a part of it when I’m not here 50 years from now, maybe even sooner than that [laughs], you know, it’s going to be something very special to always be attached to.

CM: Other Houston medical schools here have distinctions in pivotal research or groundbreaking procedures. Is there a specific direction you’d like UH Med to take, going forward?

TF: Honestly, you know, what I’ve been saying? There’s a significant shortage of primary care physicians, not only in the country, but in the state of Texas. We ranked number 47th in the nation.

What we need in the state of Texas, as well in Houston and everywhere, is primary care physicians to take care of your everyday people—and to see them to know if you need a specialist.

I hope that this medical school looks back and we see that they’re graduating more primary care physicians than any other university in the United States and that's our goal. We’re going to be a med school of the community.

CM: You have zero problem with issuing directives, Tilman. What’s your message to the first graduating class, the one that will initially benefit from this $50 million gold mine?

TF: Go out and take care of the people.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Fertitta just had an exit of one of his companies. Photo by J. Thomas Ford

Tilman Fertitta's golden online gaming casino officially sold to major sports company

done deal

The acquisition of Tilman Feritta’s Golden Nugget Online Gaming, Inc. (Nasdaq: GNOG) by digital sports entertainment and gaming company DraftKings Inc. (Nasdaq: DKNG) is complete.

DraftKings announced that it has completed the acquisition, worth at approximately $1.6 billion (dubbed the “GNOG Acquisition”) on Thursday, May 5.

“This will be an alliance unlike any other in the digital sports, entertainment and online gaming industry,” Fertitta said in a statement . “Now that the acquisition is completed, I look forward to what the future will bring for our combined company and am confident this relationship will be a huge success.”

DraftKings notes in a press release that this GNOG Acquisition will allow the company to leverage Golden Nugget’s established brand to “broaden its reach into new customer segments and enhance the combined company’s iGaming product offerings through DraftKings’ vertically integrated tech stack and Golden Nugget Online Gaming’s unique capabilities – including Live Dealer.”

Notably, the GNOG Acquisition will not include brick and mortar Golden Nugget casinos; Fertitta will maintain ownership of those entities.

The GNOG Acquisition will deliver “significant” benefits to DraftKings, as well as expected savings of $300 million, a release notes. The company aims to deploy a multi-brand approach meant to enhance cross-selling opportunities and drive increased revenue.

Additionally, DraftKings and Fertitta Entertainment expect to rebrand some current and future retail sportsbook locations at Fertitta Entertainment-owned Golden Nugget properties into DraftKings sportsbooks.

As CultureMap previously reported, DraftKings' agreement with Fertitta Entertainment will provide for it to become the exclusive daily fantasy sports, sports betting, and iGaming partner of the Houston Rockets. Additionally, if sports betting becomes legal in Texas, DraftKings will open a sportsbook at the Toyota Center.

As the Houston Chroniclereports, DraftKings, headquartered in Boston, more than doubled its revenues to nearly $1.3 billion in 2021 from about $615 million in 2020, according to SEC filings. Its net loss widened to about $1.5 billion from $1.2 billion in 2020.

“Acquiring Golden Nugget Online Gaming gives us synergies across our business,” said Jason Robins, chairman and CEO of DraftKings, in a statement. “We anticipate that this acquisition will provide meaningful revenue uplift by utilizing our data-driven marketing capabilities and a dual brand iGaming strategy, gross margin improvement opportunities, and cost savings across external marketing and SG&A. I am proud to welcome the Golden Nugget Online Gaming team to the DraftKings family.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Richard Kinder once again lands on this prestigious list. Photo courtesy of BBVA

11 Houston billionaires join Elon Musk on Forbes' list of the world's richest

mo' money

In the battle of the world’s billionaires, a newly minted Texan comes out on top — and nearly a dozen Houstonians fare quite well.

Forbes magazine’s new ranking of the world’s richest people puts Texas transplant Elon Musk at No. 1, with a net worth of $219 billion. That’s up from $151 billion in 2021, $24.6 billion in 2020, $22.3 billion in 2019, and $19.9 billion in 2018. The CEO of Austin-based vehicle manufacturer Tesla and leader of a host of other businesses, Musk was ranked second on Forbes’ 2021 list. He sat behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whose net worth in 2021 was pegged at $177 million. This year, Forbes estimates Bezos’ net worth is $171 billion.

Here in Houston, 11 locals land on the prestigious list. They are:

  • Oil mogul Jeffery Hildebrand: tied for No. 316, $7.5 billion, up from $2 billion
  • Pipeline magnate Richard Kinder: tied for No. 316, $7.5 billion, up from $7 billion
  • Houston siblings and pipeline heirs Dannine Avara, Scott Duncan, Milane Frantz, and Randa Duncan Williams: each tied for No. 375, $6.6 billion, up from $6 billion
  • Hospitality titan and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta: tied for No. 471, $5.6 billion, up from $4.6 billion
  • Houston software entrepreneur Robert Brockman: tied for No. 601, $4.7 billion, down from $6 billion
  • Toyota mega-dealer Dan Friedkin: tied for No. 665, $4.3 billion, up from $4.1 billion
  • Houston Texans owner Janice McNair: tied for No. 687, $4.2 billion, up from $4.1 billion
  • Hedge fund honcho John Arnold: tied for No. 913, $3.3 billion, unchanged from last year

Meanwhile, Nearly 30 other Texans appear in this year’s top 1,000. Here, they are grouped by where they live and their global ranking, 2022 net worth, and 2021 net worth.

Austin

  • Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla: No. 1, $219 billion, up from $151 billion
  • Michael Dell, founder, chairman, and CEO of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies: No. 24, $55.1 billion, up from $45.1 billion
  • Venture capitalist Robert Smith: tied for No. 369, $6.7 billion, up from $6 billion
  • Tito’s Vodka baron Bert “Tito” Beveridge:tied for No. 637, $4.5 billion, down from $4.6 billion
  • Tech entrepreneur Thai Lee: tied for No. 709, $4.1 billion, up from $3.2 billion

Dallas

  • Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: tied for No. 185, $10.6 billion, up from $8.9 billion
  • Banking and real estate kingpin Andy Beal: tied for No. 201, $9.9 billion, up from $7.9 billion
  • Oil and real estate titan Ray Lee Hunt: tied for No. 386, $6.5 billion, up from $4.2 billion
  • Money manager Ken Fisher: tied for No. 509, $5.3 billion, down from $5.5 billion
  • Media magnate and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: tied for No. 601, $4.7 billion, up from $4.4 billion
  • Oil and gas guru Trevor Rees-Jones: tied for No. 637, $4.5 billion, up from $4 billion
  • Hotel and investment titan Robert Rowling: tied for No. 637, $4.5 billion, up from $3.9 billion
  • Oil baron W. Herbert Hunt: tied for No. 665, $4.3 billion, up from $2 billion
  • Margot Birmingham Perot: widow of tech and real estate entrepreneur H. Ross Perot Sr., tied for No. 665, $4.3 billion, up from $4.1 billion
  • Oil and gas tycoon Kelcy Warren: tied for No. 728, $4 billion, up from $3.4 billion
  • Real estate bigwig H. Ross Perot, Jr.: tied for No. 951, $3.2 billion, up from $1.6 billion

Fort Worth

  • Walmart heiress Alice Walton: No. 18, $65.3 billion, up from $61.8 billion
  • Oil and investment guru Robert Bass: tied for No. 536, $5.1 billion, unchanged from last year
  • Private equity magnate David Bonderma: tied for No. 637, $4.5 billion, up from $4.1 billion
  • Investor and oilman Sid Bass: tied for No. 883, $3.4 billion, up from $2.9 billion

Elsewhere in Texas

  • Sports and entertainment mogul Stan Kroenke (Vernon): tied for No. 183, $10.7 billion, up from $8.2 billion
  • Walmart heiress Ann Walton Kroenke (Vernon): tied for No. 227, $9 billion, up from $8.4 billion
  • Oil tycoon Autry Stephens (Midland): tied for No. 552, $5 billion, not previously ranked

“The tumultuous stock market contributed to sharp declines in the fortunes of many of the world’s richest,” Kerry A. Dolan, assistant managing editor of Wealth at Forbes, says of this year’s ranking. “Still, more than 1,000 billionaires got wealthier over the past year. The top 20 richest alone are worth a combined $2 trillion, up from $1.8 trillion in 2021.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Tilman's Fertitta Entertainment is one of the largest privately owned businesses in America. Photo by J. Thomas Ford

4 Houston firms land on Forbes’ list of America’s largest private companies

BIG BIZ IN H-TOWN

Some Houston-area companies have some major bragging rights. Forbes has released its new list of the country’s largest privately owned companies based on annual revenue, and five local firms land on the list. They are:

  • Car dealership group Gulf States Toyota, No. 45, $8.3 billion in annual revenue.
  • Energy company Calpine, No. 48, $8 billion in annual revenue.
  • Petroleum and petrochemical products marketer Tauber Oil, No. 61, $6.7 billion in annual revenue.
  • Casino, restaurant, and sports conglomerate Fertitta Entertainment, No. 166, $2.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • BMC Software, No. 219, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.

Elsewhere in Texas, San Antonio-based H-E-B ranks fifth on Forbes’ new list of the country’s largest privately owned companies based on annual revenue. According to Forbes, the grocery chain’s annual revenue is $32.8 billion, making it the largest private company in Texas. On its website, H-E-B reports annual sales of $32 billion.

The only other San Antonio company on the Forbes list is construction engineering company Zachry Group. It ranks 225th, with annual revenue of $2 billion.

Nearly all of the other Texas companies in the Forbes ranking are based in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. As well as the five Houston companies, 13 DFW companies companies show up on the list:

  • Grand Prairie-based alcohol and wine distributor Republic National Distributing, No. 25, $11.9 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based conglomerate Sammons Enterprises, No. 70, $5.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • McKinney-based roofing distributor SRS Distribution, No. 80, $5.4 billion in annual revenue.
  • Irving-based arts-and-crafts retailer Michaels, No. 81, $5.3 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, No. 101, $4.7 billion in annual revenue.
  • Irving-based electrical systems and equipment maker Consolidated Electrical Distributors, No. 103, $4.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Fort Worth-based food and beverage distributor Ben E. Keith, No. 107, $4.2 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based oil and gas explorer Hunt Consolidated, No. 113, $4 billion in annual revenue.
  • Frisco-based transportation and logistics software provider Transplace, No. 127, $3.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Addison-based cosmetics retailer Mary Kay, No. 164, $2.8 billion in annual revenue.
  • Plano-based senior healthcare provider Golden Living, No. 178, $2.6 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based general contractor Austin Industries, No. 217, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.
  • Dallas-based transportation and logistics company Mode Transportation, No. 220, $2.1 billion in annual revenue.

One other company on the Forbes list, New Jersey-based IT company SHI International Corp., has a strong connection to Texas. Austin billionaire Thai Lee, with a net worth estimated at $4.1 billion, is co-founder, president, and CEO of SHI. The company ranks 28th on the Forbes list, with annual revenue of $11.1 billion.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Texas Space Commission launches, Houston execs named to leadership

future of space

Governor Greg Abbott announced the Texas Space Commission, naming its inaugural board of directors and Texas Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium Executive Committee.

The announcement came at NASA's Johnson Space Center, and the governor was joined by Speaker Dade Phelan, Representative Greg Bonnen, Representative Dennis Paul, NASA's Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche, and various aerospace industry leaders.

According to a news release, the Texas Space Commission will aim to strengthen commercial, civil, and military aerospace activity by promoting innovation in space exploration and commercial aerospace opportunities, which will include the integration of space, aeronautics, and aviation industries as part of the Texas economy.

The Commission will be governed by a nine-member board of directors. The board will also administer the legislatively created Space Exploration and Aeronautics Research Fund to provide grants to eligible entities.

“Texas is home to trailblazers and innovators, and we have a rich history of traversing the final frontier: space,” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says in a news release. “Texas is and will continue to be the epicenter for the space industry across the globe, and I have total confidence that my appointees to the Texas Space Commission Board of Directors and the Texas Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium Executive Committee will ensure the Texas space industry remains an international powerhouse for cutting-edge space innovation.”

TARSEC will independently identify research opportunities that will assist the state’s position in aeronautics research and development, astronautics, space commercialization, and space flight infrastructure. It also plans to fuel the integration of space, aeronautics, astronautics, and aviation industries into the Texas economy. TARSEC will be governed by an executive committee and will be composed of representatives of each higher education institution in the state.

“Since its very inception, NASA’s Johnson Space Center has been home to manned spaceflight, propelling Texas as the national leader in the U.S. space program,” Abbott says during the announcement. “It was at Rice University where President John F. Kennedy announced that the U.S. would put a man on the moon—not because it was easy, but because it was hard.

"Now, with the Texas Space Commission, our great state will have a group that is responsible for dreaming and achieving the next generation of human exploration in space," he continues. "Texas is the launchpad for Mars, innovating the technology that will colonize humanity’s first new planet. As we look into the future of space, one thing is clear: those who reach for the stars do so from the great state of Texas. I look forward to working with the Texas Space Commission, and I thank the Texas Legislature for partnering with industry and higher education institutions to secure the future of Texas' robust space industry."

The Houston-area board of directors appointees included:

  • Gwen Griffin, chief executive officer of the Griffin Communications Group
  • John Shannon, vice president of Exploration Systems at the Boeing Company
  • Sarah "Sassie" Duggleby, co-founder and CEO of Venus Aerospace
  • Kirk Shireman, vice president of Lunar Exploration Campaigns at Lockheed Martin
  • Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg, director of the Texas A&M Space Institute

Additionally, a few Houstonians were named to the TARSEC committee, including:

  • Stephanie Murphy, CEO and executive chairman of Aegis Aerospace
  • Matt Ondler, president and former chief technology officer at Axiom Space
  • Jack “2fish” Fischer, vice president of production and operations at Intuitive Machines
  • Brian Freedman, president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and vice chairman of Wellby Financial
  • David Alexander, professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Rice Space Institute at Rice University

To see the full list of appointed board and committee members, along with their extended bios, click here.

City of Houston approves $13M for new security tech at renovated IAH​ terminal

hi, tech

A new terminal currently under construction at George Bush Intercontinental Airport just got the green light for new security technology.

This week, Houston City Council unanimously approved the funding for the new Mickey Leland International Terminal's security equipment. The Mickey Leland International Terminal Project is part of the $1.43 billion IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program, or ITRP, which is expected to be completed by early next year.

This new IAH International Terminal will feature an International Central Processor, or ICP, with state-of-the-art technology in a 17-lane security checkpoint — among the largest in the country — as well as ticket counters and baggage claim.

“Houston Airports strives to get passengers through TSA Security in 20 minutes or less. Today, we meet that goal at Bush Airport more than 90 percent of the time,” Jim Szczesniak, director of aviation for Houston Airports, says in a news release. “This investment in innovative technology will enhance our efficiency and ensure that our passengers have a world-class experience each time they visit our airports.”

Going through security at IAH is about to be smoother sailing. Rendering courtesy of Houston Airports

The funding approval came from two ordinances, and the first one appropriates $11.8 million from the Airports Improvement Fund to buy, service, install, and train staff on nine new automated screening lanes, called Scarabee Checkpoint Property Screening Systems, or CPSS.

Per the news release, each of these CCPS automated lanes "is capable of screening more than 100 additional people and bags/hour than existing equipment used today." Currently, Terminal D's TSA is using eight CPSS Lanes, so the additional nine lanes will bring the total to 17 lanes of security.

The other appropriates another $1.2 million from the Airports Improvement Fund to buy, install, maintain, and train staff on six new Advanced Imaging Technology Quick Personnel Security Scanners.

The new scanners, which don't require the traveler to raise their arms, "is capable of screening more than 100 additional people/hour than existing equipment used today," per the release.

“These new security screening machines are faster, have fewer false alarms and have improved detection rates, which creates a safer experience for our passengers and airlines,” Federal Security Director for TSA at IAH Juan Sanchez adds.

The Mickey Leland International Terminal originally opened in 1990 and is currently under renovation. Rendering courtesy of Houston Airports

Texas has the 5th highest health care costs in the nation, Forbes says

dollar signs

A new Forbes Advisor study shedding light on Americans' top financial worries has revealed Texas has the fifth highest health care costs in the nation.

Forbes Advisor's annual report compared all 50 states and Washington, D.C. across nine different metrics to determine which states have the most and least expensive health care costs in 2024.

Factors include the average annual deductibles and premiums for employees using single and family coverage through employer-provided health insurances and the percentage of adults who chose not to see a health care provider due to costs within the last year, among others. Each state was ranked based on its score out of a total 100 possible points.

Texas was No. 5 with a score of 91.38 points. North Carolina was No. 1, followed in order by South Dakota, Nebraska, and Florida.

According to Forbes, out-of-state families considering a move to the Lone Star State should be aware of the state's troubling statistics when it comes to family health care. More specifically, nearly 15 percent of Texas children had families who struggled to pay for their medical bills in the past 12 months, the highest percentage in the nation.

Furthermore, Texans have the highest likelihood in the U.S. to skip seeing a doctor because of cost. The report showed 16 percent of Texas adults chose not to see a doctor in the past 12 months due to the cost of health care.

"Unexpected medical bills and the cost of health care services are the top two financial worries for Americans this year, according to a recent KFF health tracking poll," the report said. "These financial fears have real-world consequences. The high cost of healthcare is leading some Americans to make tough choices—often at the expense of their health."

In the category for the percentage of adults who reported 14 or more "mentally unhealthy" days out of a month, who could not seek health care services due to cost, Texas ranked No. 3 in the U.S. with 31.5 percent of adults experiencing these issues.

The report also highlighted the crystal clear inequality in the distribution of health care costs across the U.S.

"In some states, residents face much steeper health care expenses, including higher premiums and deductibles, which make them more likely to delay medical care due to costs," the report said.

For example, Texas' average annual premiums for both plus-one health insurance coverage ($4,626, according to the study) and family coverage ($7,051.33) through employer-provided policies was the No. 4-highest in the nation.

Elsewhere in the U.S.

The state with the most expensive health care costs is North Carolina, with a score of 100 points. 27 percent of adults in North Carolina reported struggling with their mental health who could not seek a doctor due to cost, and 11.3 percent of all adults in the state chose not to see a doctor within the last 12 months because of costs.

Hawaii (No. 50) is the state with the least expensive health care costs, according to Forbes. Hawaii had the lowest percentages of adults struggling with mental health (11.6 percent) and adults who chose not to see a doctor within the last year (5.7 percent). The average annual premium for employees in Hawaii using a family coverage plan through employer-provided health insurance is $5,373.67, and the average annual deductible for the same family coverage plan is $3,115.

The top 10 states with the most expensive health care are:

  • No. 1 – North Carolina
  • No. 2 – South Dakota
  • No. 3 – Nebraska
  • No. 4 – Florida
  • No. 5 – Texas
  • No. 6 – South Carolina
  • No. 7 – Arizona
  • No. 8 – Georgia
  • No. 9 – New Hampshire
  • No. 10 – Louisiana

The full report and its methodology can be found on forbes.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.