Texas’ Long-Awaited Bullet Train Plans to Start Construction

When it comes to fighting traffic for hours on the long trips between Dallas and Houston, there may be a new silver bullet— none other than the Texas Bullet Train. This Japanese-inspired downtown Dallas to northwest Houston high-speed rail would be the first of its kind in the United States. “Would be” because it’s long felt like a rumor — but now it’s looking a lot more like a “will be.” Masaru Yosano, chief general manager of Central Japan Railway Company, tells WFAA that plans are going forward, complete with a specific time frame. “We will start the construction next year,” Yosano says. Paper City

Tellurian’s $15B terminal in Lake Charles, La. scores key permitting milestone

As the race to build liquefied natural gas terminals continues the Gulf Coast, Houston-based Tellurian Inc. reached a key milestone Friday as a federal agency released a 523-page study of the proposed $15 billion terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The study, called final environmental impact statement, is not a permit itself but it is an important milestone in the permitting process for any new terminal because federal agencies use the findings to decide whether to give proponents the green light to build the project. Tellurian will still need a final order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before it can build the terminal. Houston Chronicle

Report: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy booster spotted arriving at Florida’s Space Coast

SpaceX is taking another step toward preparing for its next Falcon Heavy Launch — there’s just no telling when it might actually launch. Blog site Teslarati that follows all things Tesla and SpaceX-related posted a photo of one of the Falcon Heavy’s three boosters being transported to Florida’s Space Coast. Once the center booster — the main vehicle that holds cargo nose at the top — is delivered, all three booster will head into the integration stage and testing. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based rocket company, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, is the company’s most powerful rocket. The tentative launch date is scheduled for sometime in March, according to Spaceflight Now. Orlando Business Journal

Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis to hire ‘chief science officer’ to deal with algae, red tide

SARASOTA — Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled an executive order Thursday aimed at boosting natural resource protection and staged a series of events across Florida in which he promised to continue making the environment a top priority. Just 48 hours after being sworn in as Florida’s 46th governor, DeSantis traveled to Stuart, Sarasota and two other communities hit hard by toxic algae to talk up the executive order and reiterate his commitment to cleaning up the environment, a key campaign promise. “I just got into office and here I am so I think that shows people that this is not just going to be an issue that I am gonna put out there but it’s going to be one of our priorities,” DeSantis said during an event at Mote Marine Laboratory. Mote has been deeply involved in studying and monitoring red tide, a harmful algae that has primarily fouled waterways in Southwest Florida. But Palm Beach County, and South Florida, also saw a bout with the toxic bloom last fall. Palm Beach Post

St. Joe Company plans a “very important role” in Hurricane Michael recovery

WATERSOUND — In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the St. Joe Company is looking to help rebuild Bay County. The company has announced or reaffirmed its involvement in several projects since the storm, including developing a 592-acre residential community in east Bay County to help alleviate the shortage of workforce housing caused by the storm, continuing with plans to build a hotel at the Panama City Marina and plans to develop a 200-acre retail and residential village in Mexico Beach. As the largest private landowner and a major developer in Bay County, St. Joe actually has a much more ambitious agenda for helping the region recover. Here are excerpts from an extended conversation on Wednesday with company President and CEO Jorge Gonzalez. Panama City News Herald

Gulf Power restored service to 95 percent of customers within 13 days after Hurricane Michael. They got an award for it.

BAY COUNTY – Gulf Power crews worked right after Hurricane Michael to restore power in Bay County, which earned them an Emergency Recovery Award from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) on Wednesday. “This recognition is for the team, who all contributed in one way or another to the restoration efforts,” Shelley Scarborough, area distribution manager for the Panama City region, stated in a news release. “They worked 24/7 to make sure our customers got their power back on safely and as quickly as possible.” Bay County residents sat in the dark or had to use generators after the hurricane knocked out power. Gulf Power crews restored service to 95 percent of its customers within 13 days after the storm, according to the release. “The dedication of Gulf Power’s efforts to restore service throughout Florida after Hurricane Michael illustrates our industry’s commitment to customers,” EEI President Tom Kuhn stated in the release. “Gulf Power’s crews worked tirelessly in hazardous conditions to quickly and safely restore power. They are truly deserving of this award.” Panama City News Herald

For Mobile, Ala., a groundbreaking. For Airbus, a world stage

Set aside, for a moment, the Airbus pitch to Alabama. The interesting thing about the last few days is the way Airbus has used Alabama in its sales pitch to the world. Wednesday’s groundbreaking for the company’s new assembly line in Mobile, where it will build the new A220 jet alongside the A320 airliners it has been cranking out for nearly three years now, wasn’t an isolated point of interest. It was a fulcrum that Airbus used to leverage attention for some messages it wanted to put out. The shiny ceremonial shovels had barely finished turning the dirt on Wednesday when some of those messages started hitting the Internet under headlines about Brexit, international economic strategy and the titanic, never-ending battle between Airbus and Boeing. AL.com

Birmingham-based Regions Financial Corp. posts $390 million profit in fourth quarter

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF) reported a $390 million profit in the fourth quarter, as well as a profit of more than $1.5 billion for 2018. The fourth-quarter earnings represented a 28 percent increase compared to the fourth quarter in 2017. It was also an increase from third-quarter earnings, which reached $354 million. The annual earnings also represent a 28 percent increase over 2017 for Regions, which is Birmingham’s only Fortune 500 company and one of its largest employers. Full-year 2018 net income available to common shareholders was $1.7 billion, a 41 percent increase over the prior year. Birmingham Business Journal

Big Cities Are No Longer Lands of Opportunity for Middle-Skilled Workers

David Autor, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has a record of attacking the biggest and most important issues. He has raised alarms about disappearing middle-skilled jobs, pointed to the downsides of trade with China, warned about increasing industrial concentration and attacked the question of whether automation will kill jobs.

In a recent lecture at the American Economic Association meeting in Atlanta, Autor attempted to weave many of those threads together into a single story. Paraphrasing heavily, that story goes something like this: Forty years ago, Americans who didn’t go to college could move to cities and get good jobs in manufacturing or office work. But starting in about 1980, these jobs began to disappear, thanks in part to offshoring and automation. By 2000, manufacturing was in steady retreat:


Is Applying For Jobs Online Making You Miserable? A New Study Shows That You’re Not Alone

Is searching for a new job making you miserable? Over the last few years, I have heard growing complaints about how difficult it has become to submit résumés, suffer through the online application process and get feedback from companies.

The promise of adding so-called “cutting-edge” technology, artificial intelligence and sophisticated software to make the hiring process more efficient, according to the job seekers I speak with on a daily basis, is a complete bust. They lament that the process is insulting, demanding and a huge waste of time. Job seekers claim that it takes far too long to fill out applications, the questions are invasive and valid concerns are raised that the information inputted into the portals is sold off—violating their privacy. Critics of online job applications assert that the systems are clunky, have annoying glitches and randomly shut off midway through uploading their résumé and completing the application, requiring the candidate to try several more times until finally giving up and moving onto another job posting.  After all the time spent (or wasted), applicants claim that they are not even given a courtesy email response to confirm their résumé has been successfully submitted.