Cullen/Frost Bankers, the parent company of Frost Bank, ended 2011 with record profits despite the fragile economy. Not that the softness didn't register in the company's results; numbers released last week showed that average annual loans slipped slightly, from $8.1 billion to $8 billion. While Texas is faring better than other states, Frost CEO Richard Evans says business owners, worried about economic drift and the effect of national health-care reform, remain gun-shy about hiring and capital spending. As he describes it, the problem for lenders is pretty elementary. "What's changed is that the economy is weak," he says, "you can't loan as much to weakened companies as you can to strong companies."
- Thursday, 19 January 2012 20:11
- Elaine Wolff
Late in the 14-year reign of former Express-News Editor Bob Rivard, it became clear that certain local power brokers were able to influence the newsroom through his well-exercised extremities, which he was willing to use to quash critical coverage of our City Manager, or water-down (and even outright drown) stories that might reflect poorly on SA's grocery baron, whether it be meddling in school-district politics, restrictive real-estate deeds, or poor stores for poor citizens.
But that's old news, isn't it? Rivard was shown the exit in mid September, and interim Editor Kyrie O'Connor comes from Houston, presumably without Rivard's learned deference to the hands of SA power. We certainly hope so – the heart of a great daily is a team of dogged reporters who believe their editors will back them up. But a recent incident with a much-rehashed story about H-E-B suggests this adage holds true: old habits die hard.
- Wednesday, 18 January 2012 05:33
- Greg Jefferson
The community summit called to put ideas for East Side revitalization into play wrapped up two years ago, with tougher code enforcement, a crackdown on strays, and a stronger, smarter police presence making the list. Another big to-do item – maybe the biggest – was a "catalytic" economic development project that would generate new jobs and spinoff employment, and pump new money into the area. Clearing away an eyesore in the process would be a nice bonus.
So all eyes turned to the Friedrich Building on East Commerce, the deteriorating complex that used to house a refrigerator factory but now, only partially redeveloped, is home to a handful of small businesses. The property's a stumbling block to development in the area, near the Denver Heights neighborhood.
- Monday, 16 January 2012 07:16
- Ben Judson
Last month, the Austin American-Statesman reported that the largest solar project in Texas — the 30-megawatt Webberville facility — had started delivering power to Austin residents. Austin Energy’s press release describes it as the “largest active solar project of any public power utility in the country.” Previously, San Antonio’s Blue Wings facility had held the title of largest solar project in Texas, clocking in at 14 mw.
In this context, CPS Energy’s announcement this week of a winning bidder to provide San Antonio with 400 mw of solar energy was a game-changer. But on the national level, how big of a deal is this project? To answer that question, we have to look to California, which has been furiously building new solar capacity in response to the state’s mandate that 33percent of all electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.
- Monday, 16 January 2012 07:09
- Greg Jefferson
Eliot Garza, owner of the glitzy and glossy NSIDE magazines, is a lot like the young, pre-doom Jay Gatsby.
For one thing, Garza has the markings of a self-made man. He mostly reads self-help books and business magazines; he's a sharp, fastidious dresser, and he works out; he punctuates our nearly two-hour interview with uplifting life and business lessons he's picked since landing in San Antonio in the late 1990s.
Soft-spoken, short, and solidly built, he's also a glamorous mystery to onlookers, which inevitably leads to exaggeration.