Featured speaker was Jeff Moseley, former head of Economic Development and Tourism for the state of Texas, advisor to the Governor’s office, and current CEO of the Texas Association of Business, Texas’ largest business association. He spoke on funding updates, health concerns about returning to work, statewide economic recovery projections and investing in Texas.
He also highlighted legislation from the past and proposed, that could help the efforts. He offered one glimmer of real hope in his prognosis for the future: that some experts believe our recovery could be a V curve bounce back. A quick and strong recovery once we get through this, due to the strong business environment Texas has cultivated.
May 14, 2020
Herman: A pandemic’s toll on tolls, and other traffic updates
Traffic, or mobility as fancy people call it, used to be a fact-of-life problem around here. But, like lots of things that used to be a fact of life around here, that fact’s changed. Pandemics refocus priorities. Let me throw too many numbers at you concerning traffic in the MoPac express lane. That’s the one you have to pay to use. Is anyone using it now? A lot fewer people than did pre-pandemic.
In February of this year, there were 1,024,976 express lane transactions that generated $1,557,511 in revenue.
In April there were 106,493 transactions that generated $363,356 in revenue. That’s a 90% decrease in transactions and a 77% drop in revenue from February to April. Not surprising. I am surprised that anyone’s using the toll lane.But there also are toll lane numbers to support the notion that more people are getting out and about these days compared to a few weeks ago. The average per-day transactions for the first 12 days of May were 5,439. That’s up from 3,550 in April.
May 5, 2020
Pfizer and BioNTech Dose First Participants in the U.S. as Part of Global COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Development Program
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) announced today that the first participants have been dosed in the U.S. in the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the BNT162 vaccine program to prevent COVID-19. The trial is part of a global development program, and the dosing of the first cohort in Germany was completed last week.
The Phase 1/2 study is designed to determine the safety, immunogenicity and optimal dose level of four mRNA vaccine candidates evaluated in a single, continuous study. The dose level escalation portion (Stage 1) of the Phase 1/2 trial in the U.S. will enroll up to 360 healthy subjects into two age cohorts (18-55 and 65-85 years of age). The first subjects immunized in Stage 1 of the study will be healthy adults 18-55 years of age. Older adults will only be immunized with a given dose level of a vaccine candidate once testing of that candidate and dose level in younger adults has provided initial evidence of safety and immunogenicity. Sites currently dosing participants include NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, with the University of Rochester Medical Center/Rochester Regional Health and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to begin enrollment shortly
A regional board of elected officials on Monday approved an influential plan comprised of hundreds of transportation projects with an estimated cost of $42 billion — but not without a certain degree of skepticism and disappointment at the final proposal.
The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization policy board approved its 2045 Regional Plan, a federally required document that lists about 600 projects across the organization’s six-county region.
May 1, 2020
Texas Transportation Commission Ties Billions of Dollars to I-35 Central Project
Last year, the segment of I-35 through Central Austin ranked as the state’s second most congested roadway. According to Brian Barth, transportation program officer at TxDOT, the Capital Express project would likely move the corridor down to a spot in the 20s or 30s on the list of most congested roadways when the project is complete.
Jeff Moseley, CEO of Texas Association of Business, falls into the category of people TxDOT considers “for” the project while objecting to the proposed funding mechanism. “TxDOT is right to prioritize I-35 through Austin, but in these times of twin economic crises of oil and Covid-19, Texas should again utilize private funding and managed toll lanes to fix I-35, rather than spending $3.4 billion from TxDOT’s discretionary fund at this time,” he said.
There is still a funding gap of about $307 million, which TxDOT will consider allocating later this year, according to KVUE News.
Texas Association of Business CEO Jeff Moseley said the state should rely more on public-private partnerships to improve I-35 without increasing the burden on taxpayers. “TxDOT is right to prioritize I-35 through Austin, but in these times of twin economic crises of oil and COVID-19, Texas should again utilize private funding and managed toll lanes to fix I-35 rather than spending $3.4 billion from TxDOT’s discretionary fund,” Moseley said. “We need every funding tool in the transportation toolbox to keep Texas moving, especially during these times.”
The governor is hoping that if all goes well in phase one that those businesses could at least partially reopen in phase two, which could start in mid-May.
Thousands of businesses in Texas are ready to get back to work. Texas Association of Business CEO Jeff Mosley says companies have done what was asked of them, and the governor’s announcement this week is a huge sigh of relief.
“Texas has really complied fully with all the health practices on setting down and putting our businesses into a slumber;” Mosley believes Abbotts plan is balanced and well thought out.
April 28, 2020
I-35 expansion divides public opinion during economic downturn
Echoing the financial alarm, Jeff Moseley, CEO of the Texas Association of Business, urged the commission to consider private financing options in lieu of tax dollars to get the project done, citing the “double-barrel economic challenge” of sinking oil production revenues and sales taxes, two primary sources of state transportation funds. Moseley said private investments could be repaid with toll fees from drivers opting to travel in the project’s added managed lanes.
“This project is perfectly suited to harvest private financing to get it built timely, and especially in these economic times, saving billions in tax dollars for other important needs around the state,” Moseley said.
April 27, 2020
Colorado, Texas ease restrictions on businesses put in place for coronavirus
Jeff Moseley, chief executive of the Texas Association of Business, said there is a way for businesses to resume operations safely. He is part of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's advisory team developing guidelines for each industry on how best to keep customers and employees safe. They are investigating whether having barbers dressed more like dentists or having customers make appointments at car dealerships and shutting down showrooms are solutions that will make in-person interactions more safe.
Texans, he said, need hope.
"We Texans like to work," Moseley said. "This is really hard-hitting so we've got to find a way to get people to come back to work and use safety as our north star."
April 26, 2020
Gov. Abbott expected to announce more business reopening guidelines on Monday
Texas Association of Business President and CEO Jeff Moseley says this announcement has been long anticipated. "There's no doubt Texans are ready to get back to work. We have 2.7 million small businesses in Texas employing almost 5 million people. They're ready to have their jobs back," Moseley said. "The fact remains Texans are very industrious. We see there's a tremendous opportunity moving out of this tunnel, and getting back on the employment line, and I think that's going to be the spirit of the discussion tomorrow."
As of publication, Texas has seen 24,631 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 648 deaths, and 204 out of 254 counties reporting cases.
April 21, 2020
Is Now the Time for Texas to Build Expensive Highways, Toll Roads and Passenger Rail?
In Austin, organizations such as the Texas Association of Business, for example, have pushed for the state not to spend nearly $4 billion in state tax-supported dollars on rebuilding I-35 in Austin. That association favors using partnerships with private companies — including toll “managed lanes” built within a highway corridor that also has toll-free lanes — to help public, tax-supported dollars stretch further.
“There is a way to have fiscal conservatism and infrastructure stimulus at the same time,” Jeff Moseley, Texas Association of Business chief executive officer, said in an email. “If Texas re-authorizes public-private partnerships, private investment and managed toll lanes, some priority projects in our major metro areas could be jump-started. That would create jobs and boost local economies without placing additional burdens on Texas taxpayers, while helping government conserve state tax dollars for other needs.”
On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the first phase of his plan to reopen the state's economy, which has been mostly shuttered due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, by May 1.
The viral outbreak has crippled industries including hospitality and entertainment. Bars, restaurants and retail stores have cut down on business volume or closed altogether, costing employees their jobs. More than 1 million Texans have filed for unemployment relief since mid-March.
March 25, 2020
Hope rises in Texas as Senate cuts deal on $2 trillion stimulus
After days of negotiation between congressional Republicans and Democrats and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate leaders announced early Wednesday they had a deal, with hopes of passing the legislation today and getting checks out to Americans and loans to business and industry within weeks.
From the oil and gas fields to neighborhood cafes, from hotel maids to factory workers, Texans have watched hopefully as Congress moved toward passage on a sprawling $2 trillion stimulus package to keep the national economy from collapsing under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic.
March 13, 2020
Europe Travel Ban Another Coronavirus-Related Hit to Texas Economy
The U.S. ban on travel from Europe is the latest in a series of blows to the state and local economies — including cancellation of the South by Southwest festival, tanking oil prices and various directives to limit crowds — that have come in quick succession amid mounting coronavirus fears.
Texas, traditionally a top U.S. destination for foreign tourists, reaps about $7 billion annually from international travelers — a figure that’s close to 11% of all visitor spending in the state, according to the latest statistics available from the state’s economic development and tourism department.
Visitors from Canada and Mexico are among the biggest contributors, although Germany and other countries in Europe also are high on the list.