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

N.C. unemployment rate unchanged as national rate increases

North Carolina’s December 2018 unemployment rate remained unchanged from November while the national unemployment rate increased. North Carolina’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.6 percent while the national unemployment rate grew by 0.2 of a percentage point to 3.9 percent. North Carolina’s December 2018 rate decreased 0.9 of a percentage point from a year ago. The employment report released Friday by the N.C. Department of Commerce also showed that since December 2017, total nonfarm jobs grew 87,200 with the total private sector growing by 82,700. Triad Business Journal

Federal employees working without pay during shutdown won’t get NC unemployment benefits

RALEIGH — The state’s Department of Employment Security confirmed Friday that the federal workers who have been working throughout the government shutdown without pay are ineligible to receive unemployment insurance from the state. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor had issued guidance on the issue — determining that furloughed government employees working without pay would not be eligible for unemployment insurance because they would eventually be paid for the time worked, according to the Wall Street Journal. But DES, the state agency that manages unemployment insurance in North Carolina, did not confirm it had received those instructions until Friday. Raleigh News & Observer

Mayor Fischer: Louisville is strong, well-positioned for the future; and we need to brag!

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Delivering his ninth annual State of the City address from the Muhammad Ali Center on The Champ’s birthday, Mayor Greg Fischer today challenged the community to have the same courage, vision and determination that made Ali one of the most beloved, respected and well-known people the world has ever seen. The Mayor noted that Ali came of age at a time of great change and “refused to let the world dictate what his life could be,” making him a great role model today, “because this is another moment of great change: in society, in technology, and in our economy.” It’s time, he said, “to embrace Ali’s spirit and boldly make our own future.” Lane Report

Kentucky Expecting Ongoing Growth in 2019

Kentucky business leaders see a year of continued economic expansion. The urban centers are where the most activity is, with big construction and development projects driving dollars into the financial arteries. Logistics and related operations are surging at and near the Northern Kentucky and Louisville international airports. Kentucky’s significant vehicle manufacturing sector expects stable business despite slight overall sales decreases as the sector eases back after several successive record years. Bourbon making and bourbon tourism continue their upswing and continue to attract hotel projects. Lane Report

Miami Will Be Underwater Soon. Its Drinking Water Could Go First

One morning in June, Douglas Yoder climbed into a white government SUV on the edge of Miami and headed northwest, away from the glittering coastline and into the maze of water infrastructure that makes this city possible. He drove past drainage canals that sever backyards and industrial lots, ancient water-treatment plants peeking out from behind run-down bungalows, and immense rectangular pools tracing the outlines of limestone quarries. Finally, he reached a locked gate at the edge of the Everglades. Once through, he pointed out the row of 15 wells that make up the Northwest Wellfield, Miami-Dade County’s clean water source of last resort. Bloomberg

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

Florida jobless rate steady amid hurricane recovery

Florida’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.3 percent as 2018 ended, while Hurricane Michael’s impact continued to be felt in parts of the Panhandle. The state Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday an estimated 335,000 Floridians were out of work in December from a labor force of 10.28 million, keeping the state mark below the national unemployment rate of 3.9 percent. The state rate held steady as two counties that sustained major damage in Hurricane Michael continued to struggle with the effects of the October storm. Gulf County posted the state’s highest unemployment rate, 7.9 percent, followed by Bay County at 5.9 percent. Tampa Bay Business Journal