Firms chosen for Houston-Dallas bullet train 

Backers of a Texas bullet train are moving to the next stop, selecting a team to build the Houston-to-Dallas line, despite not having a clear shot – yet – at construction.

Texas Central on Monday morning announced it reached agreement with Irving-based Fluor Enterprises and The Lane Construction Corporation, based in Connecticut, for further refinement and study of the proposed route. Once financing for the project, expected to cost at least $12 billion, is secured and federal approvals are obtained, the companies would then be the primary design-builders of the line.

Plans call for Japanese-style high-speed trains to make the 240 mile trip in 90 minutes, with a stop in the Brazos Valley near College Station. The station in Houston is expected to be on the site of the Northwest Mall at Loop 610 and U.S. 290, north of Uptown.

The companies, both with decades of experience in their respective engineering and construction fields, were partly chosen because of their ties to Texas projects, Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar said in a release. Both have worked on highway and mass transit projects in the state.

Lane Construction is a subsidiary of Italy’s Salini Impregilo, which has built rail systems throughout Italy, Denmark and the Middle East.

If built, the Texas line would be the nation’s first privately funded high-speed rail project. The company has said it will not use federal or state grants, though it might obtain federally supported loans open to private companies.

Texas Central, which despite some opposition emerged from the state legislative session unscathed, is also awaiting a federal environmental process necessary to proceed. Company officials are also lining up financing for the project. Any construction will have to wait for those outcomes.

In 2014, officials predicted work would start by 2017. Based on typical timelines for federal review, the earliest construction could start on the line would be late 2018, meaning a 2023 completion, according to Texas Central’s previous timelines.

The company also continues to face opposition, especially in rural areas of Texas where some landowners remain steadfast in not selling their land, and local elected officials have said the project provides little benefit.

In the interim, Fluor and Lane Construction “will be working together on refining and updating the project’s construction planning and sequencing, scheduling and cost estimates, procurement and other design and engineering activities,” Texas Central officials said.

Neither company has an equity stake in Texas Central, officials said.

Posted by Mariella Priem August 16, 2017

Greg Abbott: Toyota's grand opening in Plano symbolizes the success of the Texas growth engine  

Today we celebrate another milestone marking the incredible momentum of Texas' continuing economic expansion. Toyota Motor North America joins Hulu, Jacobs Engineering, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kubota, Jamba Juice, Sabre and many other innovative industry leaders who have decided to go big in Texas.

Our greatest natural resource in the Lone Star State is the hardworking people of Texas. And that work ethic draws global leaders like Toyota to Texas every day. With the second-largest workforce in the nation at more than 13 million strong, Texas continues to be a national leader in job creation. In fact, more Texans have jobs today than ever before, even as more people are moving here every year from states that overtax and overregulate.

In 2014, Toyota Motor North America announced it would move its headquarters from Torrance, Calif., to Plano, consolidating its widely spread workforce from three other states to a new $350 million, 2 million-square-foot campus at Legacy West. And today we could not be more proud to celebrate the grand opening of what is, by far, one of the largest economic development deals completed in the state.

When Toyota broke ground in 2015, the company expected to house approximately 3,500 employees in the new facility. That number has now increased to 4,000, creating more jobs and more opportunities for the citizens of Texas.

"Made in Texas" is a powerful label, and Toyota's roots in Texas date back to 2006, when Toyota Motor Manufacturing went big in Texas by beginning production of Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks just south of San Antonio. Toyota's decision to continue to invest in Texas is a true testament to the competitive business climate and available, skilled workforce that the Lone Star State offers.

As governor, I want to ensure that our job-ready workforce of both today and tomorrow have the resources needed to keep Texas' economy growing and thriving. We not only understand the needs of our workforce, but also the needs of job creators, and we will ensure that Texas remains the best state for business.

During my first term as governor, we made economic strides by investing in our workforce and further reducing taxes and regulations that stand in the way of businesses' ability to flourish. We established the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative to assess local economic activity, examine workforce challenges and opportunities, and introduce innovative approaches to meeting the state's workforce goals.

The Texas model is proof that limited government secures economic liberty and encourages unlimited opportunity. Restrained government, lower taxes, smarter regulations, right-to-work laws and litigation reform, these are the pro-growth economic policies that help free enterprise grow. As the 10th-largest economy among the nations of the world and home to 50 Fortune 500 headquarters, Texas offers a business-friendly climate, with no corporate income tax and no personal income tax, along with a highly skilled workforce, easy access to global markets, robust infrastructure and predictable regulations. With the combination of global business leaders, entrepreneurs, elite academic institutions and our outstanding business environment, companies of all industries and sizes will continue to thrive in Texas.

Greg Abbott is the governor of Texas. Website:


Posted by Mariella Priem July 05, 2017

Agriculture in Texas 

Texas, known for its steak, longhorns and in the Netherlands for Boer Olke, has a lot to offer when it comes to agricultural businesses. Since the '80's a lot of Dutch farmers has established themselves in Texas to build their farms.

A few facts about Agriculture in Texas:

·         Texas leads the nation in cattle, cotton, hay, sheep, goats and mohair production.

·         Texas leads the nation in number of farms and ranches, with 248,800 farms and ranches covering 130.2 million acres.

·         Texas has more women and minority farm operations than any other state in the nation.

·         Texas also leads the nation in value of farm real estate.

·         Rural lands, including privately owned forest, total 142 million acres, 84% of the state's total land area.

·         12% of Texas' population resides in rural areas.

·         1 of every 7 working Texans (14%) is in an agriculture-related job.

·         98.6% of Texas farms and ranches are family farms, partnerships or family-held corporations.

·         The average age of Texas farmers and ranchers is 58 years.

·         The economic impact of the food and fiber sector totals more than $100 billion annually.

·         Agricultural cash receipts, including timber, average $20 billion annually.

Top 10 commodities in terms of cash receipts in 2012:

·         Cattle, $10.5 billion

·         Cotton, $2.2 billion

·         Milk, $1.8 billion

·         Broilers, $1.7 billion

·         Greenhouse & nursery, $1.3 billion

·         Corn, $1.2 billion

·         Grain Sorghum, $594 million

·         Wheat, $538 million

·         Forestry, $520 million

·         Vegetables, $439 million

·         Eggs, $439 million


·         Agricultural exports to foreign countries totaled $6.5 billion in 2012.

·         Texas ranks # 6 overall in value of agricultural exports. 


Texas' national rank for selected commodity exports:


           1 - Cotton & cottonseed, $1.6 billion

           1 - Beef, $855 million  

           1 - Hides & skins, $431 million       

           2 - Seeds for planting, $244 million  

           4 - Tree nuts, $66 million  

           4 - Rice, $119 million     

           6 - Broilers, $323 million       

           6 - Milk and milk products, $248 million
           9 - Wheat, $286 million   
          10 - Feeds & fodders, $172 million     
          10 - Grain products, $171 million
          11 - Fresh fruits, $54 million      
          13 - Corn, $157 million
          13 - Sugar, $27 million
          15 - Fresh vegetables, $39 million



Posted by Mariella Priem June 30, 2017



W-8BEN-E Form

The W-8BEN-E form is a common form that needs to be filed by foreign entities who generate income in the US. Foreign entities are subject to U.S. tax at a 30% rate (the foreign-person withholding rate) on income they receive from U.S. sources. In most cases the clients of your company are asking you to fill out a W-8BEN-E form, since the client is the payer of the withholding income and may rely on a properly completed Form W-8BEN-E to treat a payment associated with the Form W-8BEN-E as a payment to a foreign person who beneficially owns the amounts paid. If applicable, the withholding agent may rely on the Form W-8BEN-E to apply a reduced rate of, or exemption from, withholding. Provide Form W-8BEN-E to your client before income is paid or credited to you.

If you receive certain types of income in the US, you must provide Form W-8BEN-E to claim a reduced rate of, or exemption from, withholding as a resident of a foreign country with which the United States has an income tax treaty that is eligible for treaty benefits. The US has an income tax treaty with the Netherlands. Completing this form prevents you from paying taxes twice, in the United States and the Netherlands.

Failure to provide a Form W-8BEN-E when requested may lead to withholding at a 30% rate (foreign-person withholding rate) to the IRS.

You’ll find more information on the official website of the IRS:

And on the website of PWC:

For an explanation in Dutch on how to fill in the W-8BEN0E form, check the website of ING.

Posted by Mariella Priem June 30, 2017

Remco Zeeuw 

Remco F. Zeeuw, Economic Minister, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Washington DC

Remco Zeeuw (1966) started working as Economic Minister at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington, DC in August 2013. In this capacity he is responsible for bilateral trade and investment promotion, trade policy, and World Bank relations. Previously, he held several positions at the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, most recently as deputy director European Affairs. He was Head of Delegation for the Netherlands and vice-Chairman of the European Commission’s Economic Policy Committee (2010-2014). Previously, Remco worked amongst others for the European Commission (2006-2010) and the Netherlands Ministry of Finance (1996-2000). Remco Zeeuw studied econometrics at the University of Amsterdam. He is married and has four children.

On trade between the Netherlands and the United States, and with Texas in particular, Remco states the following. The US-Dutch trade and investment relation is solid. The Netherlands is the number one destination of American foreign investments and The Netherlands is a fixture in the top five of largest foreign investors in the US. We are very proud of the trust that over 3000 American companies have put in our economy and political system by investing in The Netherlands. We are convinced that The Netherlands is the best place to set up shop in Europe and that there are many opportunities for Texan companies to do business in the Netherlands. If needed, we stand ready to support them.


On this side of the pond, Dutch companies are very happy with the pro-business attitude in Texas at the State, regional and country level. We work with our Texan partners to help Dutch companies in Texas to connect, compete, grow and create new jobs!


As a result the economic ties between Texas and The Netherlands 85.000 jobs are created in Texas. I am hopeful that we can create even more jobs in Texas. After all, Texas and The Netherlands have a partnership that works.


Posted by Mariella Priem June 29, 2017

GM is bringing new jobs to Texas 

Since January 6, 1954 the general motors Arlington Assembly plant has been building world-class vehicles in Texas. A few days ago, GM announced to build new supplier facilities near their existing GM plant, resulting in 850 new jobs coming to Arlington.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - Despite the blazing heat, a small crowd gathered Friday for the groundbreaking for a new General Motors facility in Arlington.

Among the crowd was Republican Sen. Ted Cruz who was immediately surrounded by a gaggle of local media before taking the stage.  

“My number one priority in the Senate is jobs, jobs, jobs, and that’s for a very simple reason: The number one priority for Texans all across our great state is jobs, jobs, jobs,” he said. “And we’re here celebrating 850 new jobs.”      

GM’s new supplier park will produce and assemble vehicle interiors for their lineup of SUV’s coming off the line across the road.

GM expects the new facility to house 1,250 employees – including 850 new jobs coming to Arlington. According to company officials, 600 of the new jobs are replacing those sent overseas.

“That is a major accomplishment, and we are grateful,” said Cruz. “General Motors is an iconic business. General Motors is a business that helped build America. And General Motors has been an important part of the Texas economy for over 6 decades.”

The new jobs are in addition to the 7,000 jobs and $1 billion of investments nationwide that GM announced earlier this year.

The state-of-the-art suppliers park is scheduled to open next summer, bringing with it millions of dollars in potential revenue for the City of Arlington, said Mayor Jeff Williams.

“It allows us to provide high-quality services, police and fire, the library, the parks, our streets,” Williams said. “What a great day to be in Arlington.”

Since the Arlington plant first opened in 1954, it’s produced 10 million cars, trucks and SUVs, company officials said.

Building supplier facilities near existing GM plants is the new status quo for the car-maker. Over the last four years, GM said it’s saved $1 billion by having suppliers closer to their plants.

“This is a well-known drill,” said Steve Kiefer, General Motors senior vice president of global purchasing and supply chain. “As we say in our industry, every billion matters.”

Posted by Mariella Priem June 28, 2017

The State of Houston’s Global Economy 

Houston's economy

On Monday 5/22/2017, the Greater Houston Partnership hosted an event called ‘The State of Houston’s Global Economy’ so it’s members could get the latest global economic outlook. The event featured a morning panel discussion among three executives who lead global institutions in Houston, Renu Khator, Chancellor and President, University of Houston, Jean-Francois Poupeau, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development, Schlumberger and Manolo Sánchez, Chairman, BBVA Compass. The mediator of this panel was Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership.

Khator started the panel discussion on Houston’s global economy by describing Houston as a global knowledge center, since Houston has the features of a global knowledge hub: high concentration of talent, a big industrial cluster, presence of cross-cutting technology industries, a lot of research institutes, an innovative ecosystem and the global connectivity. According to the Brookings institution research group, Houston can call itself one of the 19 knowledge hubs in the world with all these features. This top 19 is really a competition between major global metropoles, so Houston has to take a look further now to stay competitive.

According to Khator is the density of talent a good measurement of the successfulness of a city. Houston has a high density of talent and need to keep it this way. Last week 8690 students graduated from the University of Houston. 60% of them are staying in Houston, 80% in Texas. The city of Houston has to give the talents a reason to stay, because Houston needs a powerhouse for research, innovation etc. The universities are fueling the local economy.

The University of Houston plays an imported role in this fueling process by being the 2nd most diverse University in Houston and by recruiting 5 members of the National Academy. 1 out of 4 Houstonians are born outside of the USA. Nowadays there is a lot to do on immigration. Khator sees an impact of these undercurrents. There’s a lot of misinformation and anxiety, causing a drop in international students. There is more effort on communication needed.

According to Poupeau the key to Houston’s success is the stability to welcome all nationalities. Houston has no problem at all in recruiting top engineers. More and more of the global leaders of Schlumberger are coming from Houston.

Sánchez pointed out that Texas is growing every year with 5%, which makes it an emerging market. This is all thanks to the business- and idea friendliness of city of Houston, but also Texas. The miss right now in Houston is the amount of start-ups. The innovation system needs to be more present. At this time, Houston is 3rd in the state of Texas when it comes to start-up, this is too low, Houston is never the 3rd in anything in Texas. It’s hard to pinpoint what is causing the lack of start-ups. Last week the GHP announced the start of an Innovation Strategy Office together with the City of Houston, part of an effort to improve Houston’s start-up culture. We will report more about those ideas and innovations soon.

During the luncheon, the Partnership’s SVP of Research, Patrick Jankowski, shared his findings on Houston’s global trade and investment ecosystem. The question he asked is if Houston is a global city? According to the department of commerce there’s a five-point checklist to determine if Houston is a global city.

The first checkpoint is trade. Houston is on the 3rd place when it comes to export (after NYC and LA) with $93,7 billion in export. The Port of Houston is the port of entry and exit for raw, intermediate and finished goods. Exports exceeds the import of goods and materials. So, Houston is absolutely present in the USA when it comes to trade.

The second checkpoint is Foreign Investment, measured by the amount of foreign subsidiaries (Shell), Greenfield projects (Akzo Nobel), Mergers & Acquisitions and Foreign owned properties. On all these aspects, Houston scores really high.

Another way to measure how global a city is, is to determine how well connected the city is. Houston intercontinental airport has 19 foreign flag carriers, services at 70 overseas markets and 11.6 million international passengers per year. This makes Houston the no. 6 airport in the USA when it comes to overseas services. In addition to the airport, Houston has 4 big ports: Houston, Galveston, Texas City and Freeport. 5000 companies are involved in global commerce; 33% of the revenue of companies based in Houston are earned overseas. 23,7% of the Houstonians are born overseas, with their children you can count on 2.2. million people who have ties overseas.

The last checkpoint is ‘dominance’. Is there a dominant industry present in the city? Dominance means that when you’re not in that city as a company, you’re out of the business. This is the case for the Oil & Gas industry. Houston has a dominance in the Energy market. With this last checkpoint, Houston crossed off all the points on the checklist. We can confirm what we’ve known for years: Houston is indeed a global city and a great place to do business!


Posted by Mariella Priem May 25, 2017

The City of Waco 


Waco is a lesser known city in the heartland of Texas. The City of Waco is located in the heart of the Texas manufacturing and technology corridor on Interstate Highway 35, just 90 miles south of Dallas and 100 miles north of Austin.

The city was founded in 1849 by the Huaco Indians that lived on the land in the present-day downtown area. Waco is the county seat of McLennan County. The US Census 2016 population estimate for the Waco MSA is 265,207, making it the 22nd-most populous city in the state. Waco offers some major attractions, five historic homes, seven recreational venues, and nine arts organizations staging theatrical and musical productions, as well as art exhibitions.

The City is the birthplace of Dr Pepper, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Waco is also home to the Waco Mammoth National Monument, a 100-plus acre stretch of wooded parkland along the Bosque River. The site provides a glimpse into the lives of Columbian mammoth bones discovered in Waco along the Bosque River and is part of the National Parks System.

Waco has the resources, water, land, infrastructure, labor force, essential services, strategic partnerships and incentives for innovative industrial development. For an elaborative report on economic development opportunities and forecasts on the Waco economy check this link:

Waco is not only brimming with Texas history, economic opportunity, and a rich variety of cultural experiences, it is also a major seat of higher learning with three major colleges in its city limits including:

Baylor University

Texas State Technical College

McLennan Community College

The city boasts one of the of the biggest and best municipal parks in Texas, Cameron Park. The 416-acre park is located in the heart of Waco, next to downtown, situated on the Brazos and Bosque Rivers. It hosts numerous races, triathlons, boat races and more.

Waco has big city advantages without the big city hassles. You won't find heavy traffic, long commutes, long lines, or a high cost of living. You can live in the country but have quick, easy access to downtown, I-35 and other major highways.

According to the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, the top employers in the city are:






Baylor University



Waco Independent School District



Providence Health Center



L3 Technologies



Baylor Scott & White Health (Hillcrest)






City of Waco






Midway Independent School District



Sanderson Farms, Inc.


Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 12, 2017

Geothermal energy 


Geothermal energy

Next to hydropower and biomass, geothermal energy is the largest renewable energy resource in the U.S.  Harvesting geothermal energy distinguishes between energy gained from two or three km deep under the ground and from energy gained from approximately 100 m under the ground. The deeper the exploration the higher the temperature required. The United States have the most geothermal power of the world. Texas has the potential to contribute 10% to the United States’ geothermal energy potential. Currently, geothermal energy production in Texas is less than 1%.

Potential for geothermal energy in deeper earth finds itself in various ways. There is space for hydrothermal resources, as indicated by the orange areas in the adjacent figure. These are found in fractured and porous rocks in form of hot water or steam. Geo-pressured resources are represented by the green spots on the map below. They consist of hot brine with methane and are found in deep aquifers where water is trapped under high pressure due to burial processes. Also, the heated geological formation of hot dry rock is present in the East of Texas, providing possibilities for heating and electricity. In addition to that, the areas designated by the lines in the map show large geothermal potential, for the existence of oil and gas wells proved to hold temperatures above 212 degree Fahrenheit (100 degree Celsius) in these regions, some above 300 degree Fahrenheit (150 degree Celsius).

Since Texas has the experience of locating oil and gas resources and thus the skills for subsurface analyses of heat-resources, reservoirs and deep-water availability, they have an advantage in locating and drilling for geothermal resources as well. Costs of drilling wells have reduced, which is attributed to the improvements in drilling technology and horizontal drilling, which also allows for more efficient drilling in different directions. Next to that, hydraulic fracturing increased the permeability of the shale formations. Technology advancements in binary cycle heat exchange systems allow for efficient economic power creation with lower boiling points.

One big potential for geothermal energy production in Texas lies in the co-production with oil and gas wells, which produce hot fluids as a waste product representing a cost reduction for oil and gas producers in disposing of this co-product.

The Geothermal Laboratory of the Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Austin are research institutes assessing this potential. To obtain more knowledge about available resources, the National Geothermal Data System was developed, a website providing data for all states about criteria for geothermal development. The company Thermal Energy Partners, located in Austin, plans and implements geothermal power plant projects on a worldwide scale and are open to partner up with international research institutes and companies.

Another application of geothermal energy is geothermal heat pumps or heat exchange systems which employ geothermal energy from shallower grounds with temperatures of 10-30 Celsius. These technologies make use of a loop system in 60-80m deep ground where temperatures remain constant. Warmer water underground is pumped to heat houses and buildings during winter time under higher compression of the pump. During summer time underground temperatures are colder than the air above. Therefore, the fluid from underground is now transported to the pump and circulated to supply the building with cooler air. There is economic efficiency involved, as one unit of electricity is needed by the heat pump to generate four to five units of heat. A gas furnace can only produce one unit of heat for one unit of electricity. The U.S Department of Energy emphasizes that every state in the U.S. has the potential to deploy geothermal heat pumps as the ground has the same shallow ground temperature. In 2015 there has been an initiative by Whisper Valley in Texas to help the City of Austin reach its CO2 reduction goals by introducing 7500 net-zero solar and geothermal power equipped homes. The technology for this makes use of a heat pump geo-exchange system. In addition to this initiative ensured by international companies, there are several other private businesses from San Antonio until Dallas. Originally providing air-conditioning, they also discovered the potential of environmental friendly geothermal heating for houses and buildings.

There is clearly an established market for geothermal heat exchange systems. The great potential for deeper geothermal energy exploration has still to be taken up. With studies showing that geothermal energy from oil and gas wells could only cost $0.10 per kWh and the increasing demand for efficient energy, geothermal energy could just fulfill what we are looking for.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 12, 2017

OTC 2017 

OTC 2017

From May 1- May 4, the yearly Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) was hosted at the NRG stadium in Houston. Despite the current price of oil at $40[/bbl], a lot of Offshore Technology Companies were still present at this event. Organized by the IRO (The association of Dutch suppliers in the oil and gas industry and offshore renewable industry), the Dutch presence was remarkable again this year with 46 Dutch companies, an estimated amount of 500 Dutch visitors and a very noticeable orange Holland Pavilion, spread out over 1000 m2 in the NRG Stadium. The overall conclusion of the exhibitors at the OTC is that the conference is better visited this year in comparison to last year. The OTC is seen as an event where you have to be present as an Offshore company, since high-level representatives of the companies will be present on the exhibition as well. However, the first analyses show that the event is that the attendance of the OTC fell again this year. Just under 65,000 people wandered the exhibits at Houston's NRG Park, down from 68,000 last year and 95,000 in 2015. Attendance has plunged nearly 40 percent since hitting a record 108,000 in 2014, the peak of the last oil boom.


Although the general opinion is less pessimistic than last year ‘it is getting better’, most companies are moderately optimistic at best about a possible surplus in 2017. For a lot of companies, cost reducing measurements are still necessary in 2017, including downsizing of the workforce. Talking to the representatives of the different companies, a few trends can be analyzed:


·         The exploration and completing of new oil and gas wells is on hold. For companies with a complete dependency on those activities, these are difficult times. There’s lot of overcapacity at this moment. 

·         Because of the low price of oil, there’s a huge pressure to keep the cost price as low as possible. All the activities need to be completed at minimal costs. Companies with cost-cutting, innovative ideas are the most likely to be hired for the job. Dutch companies are well equipped for those cost-cutting ideas.

·         A lot of Dutch companies are actively involved in the installation of Offshore Wind farms. This market is relatively new and is developing at a fast pace, especially in the North Sea. The Offshore Wind farm market in North-East America is expected to be an import export market for the Netherlands.

·         Another trend is the decommissioning of oil platforms. After the useful life of an oil and gas platform, it must be decommissioned (i.e., dismantled and disposed of). A lot of the Dutch exhibitions at the OTC are equipped for the decommissioning of the platforms, which creates a growing number of projects for now and in the future. Two examples of this decommission market are Heerema and Allseas who both recently scored a big project in this market.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 12, 2017
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