America’s Got talent auditions to be held in San Antonio

Auditions for the 14th season of America’s Got Talent will be coming to San Antonio on Friday.

The hit, reality talent show is conducting auditions in eight cities across the country, and will be at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on Jan. 11 looking for its next star.

According to the show’s website, doors will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and photo ID is required for everyone who enters the venue.

For more information on the audition process, visit the AGT auditions website here.

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Erin Caraway • San Antonio, TX

The Erin Caraway Group is a team of real estate professionals dedicated to the success of your needs before, during, and after your real estate transaction. Whether buying, selling, or investing in New Braunfels, Seguin, San Antonio, or the surrounding areas; The Erin Caraway Group is your Central Texas real estate and home source.

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Indoor and Outdoor Adventures in San Antonio This December

Attraction Slideshow: Things to Do in December

Life doesn’t get any more enjoyable in San Antonio than in the month of December. While most other major cities are suffering a frigid winter, San Antonio citizens are frolicking outside in the sunshine, often in shorts and t-shirts. Here’s your chance to join them!

There are dozens of fantastic places to go for some outdoor adventures, but few are as pretty as Enchanted Rock. Although, it’s a bit of a jaunt from the city, it’s worth the trip. Hike up to the top, bring a picnic, and get ready for an unforgettable view of Texas in all its natural glory.

However, if you want to stay close to the city, not far from downtown, you can visit the Japanese Tea Garden. This beautiful wonderland features koi-filled ponds, stone bridges and gorgeous flowers. A romantic spot for a first winter date.

For some nightlife adventures, take that special date or a group of friends to the Alamo City’s premier jazz club, Jazz, TX, for live music, craft cocktails and incredible eats. As they say, "fine jazz, serious food."

The holiday season just got better!

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San Antonio tops national list in population gain; Houston growth is sluggish

Pushing past the 1.5 million mark, San Antonio grew more than any other city in the country last year, while Houston barely experienced any growth overall.

Meanwhile, Texas suburbs once again topped the list of fastest-growing cities in the nation, according to population estimates released Thursday by the Census Bureau. With just 177,286 residents, Frisco — which ranked as the nation’s fastest-growing city — easily outpaced the state’s biggest city in population gain from July 2016 to July 2017.

Frisco, north of Dallas, had a net gain of 13,470 residents. Houston, which clocks out at 2.3 million residents, only grew by an estimated 8,235.

The sluggish overall growth in Houston and some of the state’s other big cities relative to explosive growth in the suburbs underscored the migratory story of Texas in recent years as large cities continue to buckle under housing demands and suburban development.

The mostly downward trend in population gains isn’t limited to Houston; Austin’s net gain of residents has also steadily decreased since 2014.

But nowhere has it been as significant as in Houston — an outcome that’s likely attributed to the downturn in petroleum industry activity and ongoing outward pressure into the suburbs, said state demographer Lloyd Potter. (The time period covered by the newly released Census estimates doesn’t reflect any displacement from Hurricane Harvey, which didn’t hit Houston and other parts of the Texas coast until August 2017.)

That slow down in growth has also been reflected at the county level in Harris County — home to Houston — which in 2016 lost its eight-year long claim to the largest annual gain in residents in the country.

Notably, Fort Worth — which has maintained a more steady annual population gain — surpassed Indianapolis, Indiana, to become the 15th-largest city in the nation. Of the state’s biggest five cities, Fort Worth also grew the fastest from 2016 to 2017.

For years, Texas suburbs have been battling it out at the top of the list of fastest-growing cities. Led by Frisco, half of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the country in 2017 — among cities with a population of 50,000 or more — were located in Texas.

With an 8.2 percent increase in population, Frisco’s population grew from 163,816 in 2016 to 177,286 in 2017. New Braunfels — located between San Antonio and Austin — ranked as the country’s second-fastest-growing city. And Pflugerville, north of Austin, came in third.

Conroe, which topped the national list last year, didn’t even make it onto the list of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the state. Its population continued to increase, but its annual growth rate dropped from 7.8 percent in 2016 to 3.4 percent in 2017.

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50 years later, Fair Housing Act still relevant

San Antonio continues to be one of the hottest real estate markets in the United States. With a growing population and increased opportunities attracting job seekers from across the nation, buying a home continues to be the single best investment an individual can make.

According to the National Association of Realtors annual “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” first-time buyers made up 34 percent of the national market in 2017. The Texas Association of Realtors annual “Homebuyers and Sellers Report” found that in Texas “the share of first-time homebuyers increased from 30 percent to 32 percent.”

If you purchase an older home in one of San Antonio’s established neighborhoods, however, there’s a chance you’ll come across an ugly vestige of our city’s history in the closing process. That’s because the records for some homes contain decades-old racial, ethnic or religious deed restrictions.

These discriminatory restrictions were intended to keep certain groups — blacks, Hispanics, Jews and others — from living in some areas of the city. “No lot, tract, or resubdivision therof ,” reads one such restriction, “shall ever be sold, leased, demised or conveyed by deed, lease, gift or otherwise to Mexicans, Negroes, or persons of either Latin American or African descent.”

The U.S. Supreme Court rendered such shocking deed restrictions unenforceable by state and local courts in 1948. In practice, they continued in many places across the nation until the signing of the Fair Housing Act in 1968.

Throughout 2018, Realtors in San Antonio and across the nation are commemorating the 50th anniversary of this landmark legislation that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status and national origin. We are also using the anniversary as an opportunity to raise public awareness about the continued importance of issues related to fair housing.

At the heart of our mission as Realtors is building community. In carrying out that mission, we are committed to upholding fair housing laws and offering equal professional service to everyone in search of a home or property.

NAR has a long-standing commitment to educating its members about the importance of inclusive housing practices and the promotion of diverse homeownership. As part of the yearlong recognition of the significance of the Fair Housing Act, NAR will be examining fair housing issues and advocating changes to the act that will include prohibitions of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

We can’t erase ugly deed restrictions from our county records, nor should we want to do so. Instead, we can learn from the mistakes of the past and use them as the basis for building a better future for our community. That’s why in 2018, NAR and its members are focusing on the organization’s changing role in fair housing, how the nation can improve its commitment to fair housing and the ways Realtors can lead efforts to address fair housing policy issues.

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act opened the door of home ownership to millions of Americans — including many here in San Antonio — who had previously been locked out of an essential part of the American dream. Fifty years later, Realtors are opening the door wider and continuing the fight for fair housing.

Lorena Peña is chair of the board of the San Antonio Board of Realtors.

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Apartment occupancy finally on the rise in San Antonio and in other Texas metros – San Antonio Business Journal

After apartment occupancies have steadily fallen nearly every month since September, the warm weather has brought out renters.

For the first time in six months, apartment occupancy was on the rise in San Antonio, moving up 50 basis points to end April with 89.6 percent occupancy, according to the latest report. The average price of an apartment also increased for the third month in a row, ending April at $923 per month, up from March’s $920 per month.

Just one new apartment complex came on board in April and the average size of an apartment fell by one square foot to 849 square feet. While rental rate growth since last April has only increased by 0.7 percent, 4,893 units have been absorbed since April 2017.

April ended with 24 multifamily communities still under construction, representing 6,242 units, and 27 communities having been proposed, representing 7,875 units. That is unchanged since last month. In the last 12 months, 31 communities have opened, accounting for 7,747 total new units on the market.

While San Antonio’s apartment occupancy still sits below 90 percent, management companies may be feeling bullish for this season’s new crop of summer renters, as concessions across the board fell in April. Total concessions fell by 2 percent in San Antonio from 44 percent to 42 percent of all units offering concessions, while Class A concessions fell by 1 percent, Class B units fell by 2 percent, Class C product fell by nearly 200 units, leaving the percentage unchanged, and Class D units offering concessions fell a whopping 8 percent.

The other three major metros in Texas saw similar occupancy results for April, as every market witnessed an increase in occupancy and a rise in average price per month. While Houston leads all major Texas markets in rental rate growth over the past year, 5.3 percent of 14,699 units absorbed, Austin remains the only major market with a negative absorption rate, negative 1.1 percent, with 7,957 units absorbed.

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Texan Bank CEO Appointed to Texas Southern University Board of Regents – San Antonio Business Journal

HOUSTON, April 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Texan Bank announces appointment of CEO to Board of Regents of a prestigious Houston area university.

The Governor of Texas Greg Abbott has appointed Texan Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Kenny Koncaba to the Board of Regents for a term to expire on February 1, 2023. "I sincerely appreciate Governor Abbott appointing me to the Texas Southern University (TSU) Board of Regents. TSU is a dynamic institution of higher learning, and I look forward to serving TSU students, faculty, and administration into the future," stated Koncaba.

Koncaba also serves as a Director on the Board of Innovative Alternatives, as well as the Friendswood Education Foundation Board. He is a former gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Housing and Health Services Coordinating Council and the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Galveston County Ports.

About Texan Bank
Based in Houston TX, Texan Bank is a full-service, local community bank offering business and personal banking with four locations across Houston, Sugar Land, Clear Lake, and Friendswood. Purchased in 2011 by Friendswood Capital Corporation, Texan Bank serves its communities through doing business the right way and inspiring employees through servant leadership.

For more information, visit

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Greater San Marcos Region Transforms into Texas Innovation Corridor

A few days after returning from Washington, D.C., for the Coalition for a Prosperous America conference and legislative visits, I traveled to San Marcos, Texas, as the guest of the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP). The Greater San Marcos Partnership is the economic development group representing Hays and Caldwell counties as a region. San Marcos is strategically located midway between the two major metros of Austin and San Antonio in the beautiful hill country of central Texas. The region is home to a number of other rapidly growing cities, including Kyle and Dripping Springs in Hays County, and Lockhart and Luling in Caldwell County.

I have had a personal connection to San Marcos as my sister lived there for many years, and it is where her youngest son was born. The view of the hill above San Marcos’ downtown square is dominated by the campus of Texas State University, only a few blocks away, but during my trip I later learned the region is so much more than a college town. My sister

actually worked at the university when she first moved to San Marcos. Dr. Denise Trauth, president of Texas State University, is also chair of the GSMP board of directors, and Adriana Cruz is president of GSMP.

The 2017 Greater San Marcos Partnership annual report states, “It’s no longer a secret — Greater San Marcos is among the most promising regions in the nation. Hailed by Forbes as ‘America’s Next Great Metropolis’ and ranked among Thrillist’s list of ‘America’s Best Small Cities to Move to Before They Get Too Popular,’ Greater San Marcos is increasingly being recognized by the national media, talent and corporate executives as a region to watch.”

The report explains that GSMP “continues to serve as a change agent for smart and purposeful economic growth in the two-county region known as the Innovation Corridor…from welcoming new employers and job creation programs to working major projects and garnering national media placements.”

Compared to the other metropolitan areas of Texas, the greater San Marcos area still offers affordable homes (nearly 40% less in housing than Austin), as well as a large and dynamic workforce. Each town in the region offers its own unique assets and charms, which provide a strong force in attracting new jobs and investment.

When I met with Cruz, she said, “A major driver of this progress has been our laser focus on executing the strategies laid out by Vision 2020, a five-year strategic plan to drive economic development in the region, established in fiscal year 2015…For example, 2017 was the first full year of utilizing the Vision 2020 implementation work groups — stakeholder groups that work collectively to maximize the region’s biggest strengths and tackle some of our existing weaknesses in key areas such as infrastructure, workforce and higher education and destination appeal.”

From the annual report, I also learned “San Marcos, together with Austin, College Station, Fredericksburg, New Braunfels and San Antonio, was selected by the U.S. government to host an exclusive innovation and entrepreneurship event, which brought decision-makers from more than 20 countries to San Marcos to explore partnerships and economic development opportunities. Through the 7th Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACE), Greater San Marcos worked with our neighboring cities to share best practices with this influential international audience and to promote the larger Central Texas region as a leader in innovation. The Greater San Marcos portion of the tour included a visit with many of our major employers, a tour of Texas State University and STAR One and a Glass Bottom Boat Tour at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.”

Texas ranks second in the 2018 Small Business Policy Index by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council for not charging a corporate or individual income tax or capital gains tax, in addition to having low gas taxes and workers’ compensation tax. Here are other key facts about the region:

1.3 million talent pool within a 45-mile radius 66,087 population ages 25-44 34% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher The high school graduation rate for Hays County is 89% and 90% for Caldwell County Only 12% of adults are without a high school diploma

The top 10 manufacturers in Hays and Caldwell Counties are:

Company Employees Products CFAN 700 Composite fan blades for GE engines Philips Lighting 369 LED lights for outdoor structures & areas Thermon Mfg. 345 Electric heating cables and control systems Epic Piping 260 Pipe fabrication including carbon steel, chrome moly, stainless steels, duplex steels, nickel-based alloys Heldenfels Enterprises 170 Precast/prestressed concrete structures UTC Aerospace Systems 160 Engine casing and aftermarket support for Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 TXI 145

Concrete production

Altra Couplings 95 Industrial couplings Mensor Corp. 80 Precision measuring instruments and automatic pressure test and calibration equipment Hunter Industries 75 Hot mix asphalt

When we visited Texas State University, I realized that the research being done at the university is contributing greatly to the region transforming into the Innovation Corridor of Texas. In 2012, the university was designated as an emerging research institution, working on semiconductors, 3D printing and composite material. This opened the door to major research funding, global research talent, and has contributed to a spike in patent filing activity in Hays County.

I had the great pleasure of being given a tour of the Roy F. Mitte building that houses the material science, engineer, and commercialization (MSEC) program by Dr. Thomas H. Myers, associate dean of MSEC. Myers happened to be home on a break from a year-long sabbatical in Spain. We were joined by Dr. Jennifer Irvin, director of MSEC, and Dr. Andy Batey, associate professor and chair of the department of engineering technology.

The purpose of the MSEC program is “to train graduate scientists and engineers to perform interdisciplinary research while equipping them to emerge as effective entrepreneurial leadership the advancement of 21st century global discovery and innovation.”

We walked through several labs focusing on different kinds of materials research, such as the semiconductor and solar cell materials lab. Myers said, “We work with companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., Texas Instruments and First Solar to do materials research. Students, faculty and industry work together on multiyear, multicompany contracts to solve problems. We started a Ph.D. program in 2012 to help students and faculty be able to commercialize technology. We have graduated about 30 students from the three-year program. We are not a department, but a program within the department of engineering technology. Students are required to work on important projects, such as purifying water from fracking.”

Myers said, “We have two levels of clean rooms, a Class 10 and Class 100, and we are working to teach semiconductor manufacturing and the fundamentals of making a device, which is greatly appreciated by the semiconductor industry in Austin.”

When we walked through the machine shop that contained manual, CNC controlled machines and a 5-axis machining center, Batey explained, “We want our students to get hands-on experience in traditional industries during their four-year engineering technology degree program. Engineering technology degrees focus on the planning, fabrication, production, assembly, testing, and maintenance of products and services. We offer degree programs in electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering, environmental engineering, and civil engineering.

As we walked through the construction materials lab, Batey said, “We also offer a B.S. degree with a major in construction science and management and concrete industry management. We can do chemical analysis of construction materials and concrete in our lab. We are also one of only two universities in Texas to have a teaching foundry for metallurgy, which has been certified since 1990, and there are only 20 in the whole U.S.”

Irvin said, “Texas State University also has a 58-acre site off-campus science, technology, and advanced research park (STAR Park), which is dedicated to the university’s research and commercialization efforts. The 36,000-square-foot facility serves as a technology incubator for start-up and early-stage businesses, and provides tenants access to secure wet labs, clean space, conference rooms and office space. Since 2014, companies located in STAR Park have created over 60 jobs, funded over $1.5 million in university research, hired 14 Texas State graduates, and raised more than $32 million through equity and strategic alliance investments.”

Texas State University’s research and degree programs have been a catalyst for the transformation of this region into an innovation corridor. The spillover effects will be apparent in my next articles featuring some of the tenant companies in STAR Park, as well as other companies in the region.


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Spurs vs. Thunder live stream: Watch San Antonio vs. Oklahoma City

The San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder will face off for the final time in the 2017-18 season. A look at how to watch it online.

On Thursday night, the San Antonio Spurs will return home from a poor two-game road trip. This featured losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards, causing a setback in the Western Conference standings and an increased threat at not making the playoffs. There’s still room to spare from the No. 9 seed, but another loss could narrow this and lead to the team’s first playoff absence since the 1996-97 season.

The Silver and Black must avoid this against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team they are 1-2 against this season. It’s at the AT&T Center in the San Antonio, TX.

The Spurs will not have Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) ready for this game. They might not have LaMarcus Aldridge (left knee contusion), either, whose questionable to play after injuring his knee in Tuesday’s Wizards game.

Without Aldridge, the team will be in trouble against Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, players who are dynamic with the basketball. Can defensive matchups contain one or more of these three stars? Will a Spur rise up and score 20-plus points?

Details on how to watch the Spurs vs. Thunder online are below. This includes the start time, TV info, live stream and more:

Date: Thursday, Mar. 29
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: San Antonio, TX
Venue: AT&T Center
TV Info: TNT
Live Stream: WatchTNT

More NBA fans will be able to see the Spurs fight for their playoff lives since it’s on TNT. WatchTNT provides a live stream of the game for fans not by a computer.

Which teams gets a much-needed win Thursday night for their respective playoff hopes? Can the Spurs do it without Leonard and potentially Aldridge?

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Popular San Antonio chef lands coveted spot as James Beard Award finalist

Chef Steve McHugh was recognized by the James Beard Foundation for his work at the Pearl’s Cured.

A favorite San Antonio chef has made the finalist list for the 2018 James Beard Awards. In an announcement held March 14 at Parc by Stephen Starr in Philadelphia, Steve McHugh from Cured landed a spot as Best Chef: Southwest.

The coveted annual awards are presented as a three-part process. Before the finalists were revealed, the organization announced the semifinalists on February 15 — a list that included quite a few well-known Texas names like Diego Galicia and Rico Torres of Mixtli, Kevin Fink of Austin’s Emmer & Rye, and barbecue legend Norma Francis “Tootsie” Tomanetz of Lexington’s Snow’s BBQ.

Texas chefs dominated the short list for the Best Chef: Southwest category. Joining McHugh are two Austin chefs Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie) and Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine) — along with Martin Rios from Santa Fe’s Restaurant Martín and Alex Seidel from Denver’s Mercantile.

Both Dallas and Houston were largely snubbed. The only other Texas name to receive a finalist slot was Houston’s Anvil Bar & Refuge, which was cited for Outstanding Bar Program. Texas Monthly also received a nomination in the journalism awards’ Foodways category for Matt Diffee’s “Chili at the Fifty.”

The winners of the annual awards, sometimes called the “Oscars of the food world,” will be announced at a ceremony on May 7 in Chicago.

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