Forbes’ 2017 list of richest Americans adds 2 Texans, loses 1 Houstonian

It’s getting tougher for billionaires to make the annual Forbes 400, but two Texans are new to the list of richest people in America this year. 

Click through the slideshow to see the Texans who made the list.

According to Forbes, there were 22 newcomers who made the list for the first time this year, including Austin’s Bert “Tito” Beveridge, the founder and sole owner of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. A self-made billionaire, Beveridge has a net worth of $2.5 billion, per Forbes. Although not…



Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals Hiding True Impact Of Hydro Bill Cuts: Ontario Auditor General

Ontario Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk answers questions about her 2016 annual report at Queen's Park in Toronto on November 30, 2016.

TORONTO — The way the Ontario Liberal government is cutting hydro bills by 25 per cent purposely obscures the true financial impact of the measure to avoid showing a deficit on the province’s books, the auditor general said Tuesday.

Bonnie Lysyk estimated in a special report that the plan’s total cost will be $39.4 billion over 30 years, but the accounting the government is using means Ontario’s net debt — currently at about $312 billion — and future deficits won’t reflect that.

“It is clear to us that the government’s intention in creating the accounting/financing design to handle the costs of the electricity rate reduction was to avoid affecting its fiscal plan,” Lysyk wrote in her report.

The Liberals presented a balanced budget in the spring, a year ahead of the provincial election, and have promised to keep the books in balance through the next couple of years.

$4B in extra interest charges, she says

The hydro plan lowers time-of-use rates by removing from bills a portion of the global adjustment — a charge consumers pay for above-market rates to power producers — for the next 10 years.

In the meantime, producers will continue being paid the same, so Ontario Power Generation has been tapped to oversee the debt used to pay that difference through a new entity called OPG Trust.

The end result of the “needlessly complex” financing structure is that the province’s bottom line won’t be affected, Lysyk said.

The cost of paying back that debt with interest will then go back onto ratepayers’ bills for the following 20 years, and Lysyk estimated the cost will be $18.4 billion borrowed to cover the shortfall, and $21 billion in accumulated interest.

Ontario’s financial watchdog has said the plan means hydro customers will be paying a net $21 billion over the next three decades to get short-term savings.

Both the auditor and the financial accountability officer have concluded the structure leads to about $4 billion in extra interest charges because the OPG Trust will have to borrow at a higher rate than the province itself would have.

Wynne disagrees with report

The government doesn’t agree with Lysyk’s conclusions, saying their financing structure is indeed in compliance with accounting standards and wasn’t intended to avoid a deficit.

It ensures that the costs are borne by ratepayers, who will benefit from the plan, and not the tax base, the government wrote in a response to the report.

Electricity bills in the province have roughly doubled in the last decade, due in part to green energy initiatives, and Premiere Kathleen Wynne promised to cut hydro bills in the province after widespread anger over rising costs helped send her approval ratings to record lows.

She has said this plan better spreads out the costs of investments in the energy system, instead of putting the entire burden on current ratepayers.

The Liberals have said after the initial cut to bills this year, rate increases will be held to inflation for the next four years. After that, the FAO has projected the average bill will rise about 6.8 per cent a year until 2028, and after that bills will be about four per cent higher than they would have been without the Liberal plan.

Earlier on HuffPost:


Amazon HQ2 bid emerges from farm land of Central Texas

A wild card has emerged in Texas’ efforts to court the $5 billion Inc. HQ2.

Economic development officials in rural Milam County, northeast of Austin, are promoting land owned by Alcoa Corp. as a potential home for the Seattle-based company’s second headquarters and up to 50,000 jobs.

The Sandow Lakes Ranch is more than 33,000 acres about an hour’s drive from downtown Austin with vast undeveloped tracts of farm land and more than a dozen lakes — plus a sizable industrial complex anchored…


Ontario Bill Aims To Ban Mandatory High Heels At Workplaces

High heels on display in the Pretty Small Shoes store in Bloomsbury, London on March 6, 2017.

TORONTO — Women in Ontario would be protected from being required to wear high heels at work under a bill being introduced Tuesday.

The private member’s bill from Cristina Martins would amend the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act to prohibit employers from mandating workers to wear unsafe footwear as part of dress and uniform codes.

It’s an issue that is a particular problem in restaurants and bars, Martins said.

These dress codes are and always have been gendered and only women are expected to risk their personal safety to meet these unfair dress codes.Ontario MPP Christina Martins

“We’ve had some women coming forward and saying that as a result of them not wearing the mandatory high heels that they’ve missed shifts, they’ve been asked to stay home and in some cases lost their jobs — mostly in the food industry and the hospitality industry, that’s where we see most of the complaints coming from,” she said Tuesday.

“Note that these dress codes are and always have been gendered and only women are expected to risk their personal safety to meet these unfair dress codes.”

The bill comes after British Columbia banned mandatory high heels in the workplace earlier this year.

B.C. took step earlier this year

Ontario’s current footwear protections under the Occupational Health and Safety Act deal more with industrial workplaces as well as health care facilities, with regulations to protect against specific hazards and foot injuries.

The president of the Ontario Podiatric Medical Association said wearing high heels causes a higher incidence of bunions, musculoskeletal pain and injury than those who do not wear high heels.

“Ontario podiatrists see far too many patients with injuries in the workplace that are entirely avoidable that are caused by wearing footwear that is inappropriate or outright unsafe,” James Hill said in a statement.

“Podiatrists treat foot pain and deformities in women twice as often as foot disabilities in men, often due to having to wear high heels in their workplaces.”

The Ontario Human Rights Commission issued a policy paper last year on gender-specific dress codes, saying women who work in restaurants and bars should not be forced to wear high heels, short skirts and low-cut tops.

Earlier on HuffPost:


Stress Test Incoming For Homebuyers Without Mortgage Insurance

The final guidelines are generally similar to what OSFI had proposed in July, when the regulator put out a draft for public consultation.

TORONTO — Canada’s banking regulator has published the final changes to its guidelines for residential mortgage underwriting, including a financial stress test for buyers who don’t need mortgage insurance.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions said Tuesday the changes will come into force by Jan. 1, 2018.

Even homebuyers who don’t require mortgage insurance because they have a down payment of 20 per cent or more will have to prove they can continue to make payments if interest rates rise.

Other changes include restrictions on co-lending, or bundled mortgages, aimed at ensuring financial institutions do not circumvent rules that limit how much they can lend.

The final guidelines are generally similar to what OSFI had proposed in July, when the regulator put out a draft for public consultation.

The proposed changes, however, have been criticized for including potentially increasing costs and limiting access to mortgages for some home buyers.

“These revisions to Guideline B-20 reinforce a strong and prudent regulatory regime for residential mortgage underwriting in Canada,” said Superintendent Jeremy Rudin in a statement on Tuesday.

Also On HuffPost:


TransCanada expands in downtown Houston tower Bank of America plans to vacate

TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP) is growing its footprint in the Bank of America Center again.

The Calgary, Canada-based pipeline company signed a lease for another 82,916 square feet across three floors at 700 Louisiana St., according to Realty News Report. That will bring TransCanada’s total space in the tower to about 260,000 square feet, per RNR.

JLL’s Louis Rosenthal and Bruce Rutherford represented TransCanada, and the landlord was represented by John Spafford of Houston-based PM Realty…


Dear New Business Owner: ‘Overnight Success’ Takes Years To Achieve

Being your own boss, making your own hours and watching your dreams become reality are just part of the allure of running your own business. Entrepreneurial ventures can be very rewarding, but take a lot of effort. No matter how business savvy you are, starting a company can come with a fair share of frustrations and problems along the way. The key to entrepreneurial success is to identify any potential problems, work through them and learn from them so future headaches can be avoided. Here are some of the top missteps small business owners make on their path to greatness.

Trying to get rich overnight

Isn’t it everyone’s pipe dream to develop an amazing product and become instantly rich? If you go into things believing you’ll be the next Richie Rich, you’re going to be disappointed quickly, and your passion for your vision will rapidly diminish. It’s important to realize that, in reality, an “overnight success” actually takes 15 to 20 years to achieve. True success takes time and effort. Be patient and persistent and give your company a chance to grow and spread its wings.

Having a hazy marketing strategy

First impressions are everything. Your company must present a clear and concise marketing message on all fronts from the get-go, so prospects will have a solid understanding of what you can offer. Mixed messages are confusing and will send clients running in the opposite direction. You know what you are doing and it’s important to send the message to others that your company is trustworthy.

Doing too much on your own

As much as you may want to go at it alone, believing you can do everything by yourself will be detrimental to your company’s success. A thriving company needs a dedicated team of trusted individuals to keep it viable. This group includes financial experts, tax experts and legal experts. Know when to ask for help from a professional in your team.

Failing to think outside a traditional business loan

Of course, businesses need cash to take off. This doesn’t mean you have to limit your funding sources to traditional financial institutions. You can access a variety of government grants and programs to help get your small business up and running. Think outside the box and get creative with where you can obtain funds. A listing of government grants and loans can be found via the federal government’s Canada Business Network at

Not understanding your market

Charging into a market you don’t understand can have detrimental effects on your business. Have a good understanding of who your market is and who your customers are. If you own a pet-grooming business, for example, do your research and talk to people who are in the market for advice so you can meet the needs of your customers. A little bit of extra work in the beginning will save you a lot of headaches in the end.

Knowing what avenues to avoid when growing your small business can help make the experience a truly rewarding one.

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Here’s how much Houstonians will spend this holiday season

It’s about that time to begin holiday shopping, and Houstonians — despite the flooding and damage from Harvey — plan to spend some big bucks to purchase perfect gifts.

This year, Bayou City residents on average are expected to spend $668 on holiday purchases, according to Dublin, Ireland-based Accenture LLP’s 2017 metro holiday shopping survey. That’s more than Austin at $465, less than Dallas at $738 and near the national average of $632. 

For the metro retail study, the management…