Dell Children’s Medical Center may grow

Seton Family of Hospitals is proposing a $48.5 million tower for the three-year-old Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas so rehabilitation services can be expanded.

The hospital system, which points to a growing need for children’s inpatient rehab in Central Texas, is working on a financing proposal for the tower, which it hopes to present in July to its parent business,

Ascension Health. Funding for a new building will likely come from community donations and Ascension Health, a Catholic nonprofit health care system with 500 locations in 19 states.

“The probability that we will get it approved and get it built is very strong,” said Bob Bonar, CEO and president of Dell Children’s Medical Center.

If approved, Seton hopes to begin work on the rehab tower by late 2012 or early 2013, and have it ready to admit children by 2014, Bonar said. The size of the tower and the number of beds it would bring online is still unknown. An architect has not yet been hired.

Seton plans to build the tower on a site fronting Seton’s administrative offices at 1345 Philomena St. To make room for the addition, Seton plans to relocate Stepping Stone, a privately operated day care that is housed in a temporary building outside Dell Children’s.

Dell Children’s is seeing a strong demand for children’s inpatient rehabilitation services, some of which stems from its busy trauma center, Bonar said.

The hospital, which is among 17 Level I pediatric trauma centers in the U.S. and the only one in Central Texas, served 1,022 pediatric trauma patients in 2008. The average patient age was about 7 years, according to a 2008 report.

Dell Children’s outpatient rehab center provides occupational, physical and speech therapy, working closely with pediatric specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, developmental specialists, oncologists and pediatricians.

Children with more serious injuries who need inpatient rehab are referred to other Texas children’s hospitals, including Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital of San Antonio and Our Children’s House at Baylor in Dallas.

Last week, a Dell Children’s rehabilitation team member said she referred three young patients to hospitals in Dallas and San Antonio that focus on inpatient rehabilitation for children. “We need it” at Dell Children’s, she said.

The new tower also would house other services, such as general surgery, Bonar said.

Although the rehabilitation landscape has grown in the last few years, with hospitals expanding their services and new players entering the market, not all serve children. A health care provider must have a specialized staff, standards and clinical competencies to provide children’s rehabilitation services.

St. David’s Rehabilitation, which offers inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, sees patients ages 13 and older.

HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Austin offers outpatient rehabilitation services at its Starbright Pediatric Rehabilitation Institute, a program designed to help infants through 21-year-olds with disabilities and injuries. Starbright’s services are offered at HealthSouth’s South Lamar Boulevard and Round Rock locations.

Duke Saldivar, CEO of HealthSouth Austin, said he’s seen an increase in demand for inpatient rehabilitation services for children, in large part because of the pediatric care happening at Dell Children’s.

“There has been a substantial expansion in the availability of pediatric care. A lot of patients may have gone to San Antonio, Houston or Dallas for rehabilitation … but with Dell’s Children’s now being such a prominent medical facility, I think it’s very important that [Austinites] provide the continuum of care.”

HealthSouth has no plans to offer inpatient rehab services, but hopes to collaborate with Dell Children’s and add complementary outpatient services in the future.

At Dell Children’s, inpatient rehabilitation services is the last missing piece to complete the continuum of care for children with serious injuries.

Having those services close to home would make it more convenient for patients and less costly for their families, Bonar said.

This is not the first time the relatively new hospital has experienced growing pains. In its first year, demand for its emergency room department outstripped capacity, so the hospital expanded its ER from 34 to 44 beds.

Read more: Dell Children’s Medical Center may grow – Austin Business Journal


Samsung plans $3.6 billion Austin plant upgrade, 500 new jobs


Published: 9:02 a.m. Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Article from Austin Business Journal: Samsung investing $3.6B in Austin

Samsung Electronics Co. unveiled plans today for a $3.6 billion expansion project to its Fab 2 semiconductor manufacturing plant in Northeast Austin.

The project will provide temporary construction jobs for nearly 3,000 workers and will add about 500 permanent employees to Samsung’s Austin operation by late next year. The company presently employs about 1,000 people in Austin in its only chip manufacturing operation outside South Korea.

Work is expected to begin within days.

Samsung, the world’s second largest chip company, said its Austin payroll will expand to about $105 million a year, an increase of about 50 percent, when the expansion is complete. The project is the most expensive in Austin history, surpassing the $3.5 billion spent the company’s Fab 2 project, which was finished in 2007.

When that project was built, half of its internal manufacturing space was left vacant for future expansion. The new project will convert that vacant space into a high-production, state-of-the-art chip factory.

The expanded facility, unlike the rest of Samsung’s operations in Austin, won’t be making memory chips. Instead, it will produce complex, low-power “systems on a chip” that are expected to be used for the brains of future generations of smart phones, tablet computers and other mobile devices. Samsung also disclosed that it is creating a 50-person engineering center in Austin to focus on designing advanced systems on a chip. “This investment, along with the creation of Samsung Austin’s first research and development facilityu2026 ensures Austin’s premier status as a center for semiconductor research and manufacturing,” said W.S. Han, president of the company’s Austin subsidiary.

Samsung’s announcement comes on the heels of other high-tech expansions announced this year, including a 200-employee customer support center for Facebook Inc.

“It is hard to describe how big this is,” said Dave Porter, senior vice president for economic development at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. “This continues to solidify Samsung’s footprint in Austin.”

“This type of investment speaks volumes about our city’s image on the national and international level,” said Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Most of the spending on the new project will go toward computer-controlled manufacturing equipment that Samsung will install to process about tens of thousands of 12-inch silicon wafers every month. Each wafer can include 1,000 or more individual chips.

Most of the new jobs created by the project will be for engineers and technicians, whose job is to keep the highly automated process equipment running efficiently.

Samsung, which is already the largest customer of the city’s Austin Energy utility, will increase its electrical purchases from the city to more than $45 million a year. Its water and waste water purchases will grow to almost $13 million a year. The first stage of the new product will involve building the internal infrastructure for the new manufacturing area, which will include massive amounts of piping systems to deliver high-purity gases and other materials to manufacturing equipment. But most of the money will go toward the purchase and installation of the equipment itself. Modern semiconductor manufacturing machines can be as large as a pickup truck and cost several million dollars each.

Analysts have expected chipmakers to start expanding their factories this year after two years of sharply declining spending brought on by the deep global recession. Samsung appears to be making more aggressive plans than any other company in the industry

The South Korean company said in May that it expects to spend about $9.6 billion this year worldwide on expanding its semiconductor production with new plants and equipment. That level of spending is about twice as much as planned by Intel Corp., the largest chip company in the world.

Real Estate Updates By Kurt Pfotenhauer, CEO of American Land Title Assoc.

Kurt Pfotenhauer, Chief Executive Officer of the American Land Title Association provided some interesting updates on various real estate topics that I felt you would find educational. I’ve included several excerpts from his recent update

NAR supports Extension of Tax Credit Deadline for Closings.   The National Association of Realtors is pushing for Congress to show some flexibility in the June 30 closing deadline required for buyers to be eligible for the $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit, which expired on April 30. NAR says the June 30 deadline does not allow enough time for closings, and some major lenders I spoke to last week voiced the same concern. Consultation with ALTA’s Government Affairs Committee reveals no capacity problem, but acknowledgement that short sales are taking much longer, and an openness to supporting the extension.

Early estimates of May home sales – the month immediately following the tax credit’s expiration – indicate that steep declines will be seen in home sales. Some markets are down between 20% and even 30% from April. In April, pending sales contracts were up 6% as buyers rushed to sign before the end of the tax credits.  This suggests that the tax credit didn’t create new sales so much as affect the timing of sales.

… Interest Rates. Mortgage rates for 30-year conventional mortgages rose 1 basis point to 4.79% last week. Analysts expect that continued weakness in Euro-zone economies will provide strong demand for US Treasuries, thereby keeping mortgage rates low. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of mortgage applications rose 0.9% last week on strong refinancing activity.

… Homeownership vs. Renting.  Richard Florida argues in today’s Wall Street Journal that the country should update its definition of the American Dream of homeownership. Studying the correlation between homeownership and economic activity in America, he found that the cities with the highest homeownership rates had lower economic activity than cities with lower rates of homeownership. Whether this correlation amounts to cause and effect is debatable, but it supports Florida’s argument that creation of more rental housing should be encouraged. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) has long advocated the creation of more rental housing and we can expect to see more proponents of these views as GSE reform moves ahead.

… FHA is lowering seller concessions from 6% to 3%.  In a move that will likely hinder home sales in the current market, FHA announced that it is lowering seller concessions down from 6% to 3%. Seller concessions allow the buyer to look to the seller to pay some costs associated with sale, like closing costs, taxes, appraisal etc. With the lower concessions, buyers will have to bring more to the table to close a sale.

Host Gator expanding to Austin, bringing 300 jobs

By Barry Harrell | Tuesday, May 25, 2010, 12:48 PM, a Houston-based Web hosting company, is expanding into Austin in a move that will eventually create about 300 jobs here, the company said in a posting on its website.

A news conference was scheduled for 2 p.m. today at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce to officially announce the expansion.

HostGator, which is privately held, runs data centers that provide Web hosting and a range of computing services. The company plans to open its Austin operations in July with about 200 employees. Plans call for that to grow to at least 300 employees over the next three years,.

HostGator is n accepting applications for systems administrators and chat/phone agents, according to HostGator’s blog post. Information is available at, according to the company.

The Austin facility will be at 8100 Cameron Road, where HostGator will occupy about 40,000 square feet of a 100,000-square-foot office building, according to the company.

For current HostGator customers, the expansion to Austin will mean “quicker chat times, phones answered quicker and ticket response times lowered,” according to HostGator’s blog post.

HostGator is one of the world’s largest Web hosting companies. It has about 225,000 customers and more than 8,000 servers under management, and it hosts more than 3 million domains, accounting for 2 percent of the world’s Internet traffic, according to the company.

Company chairman Brent Oxley Host founded created in 2002 in his dorm room at Florida Atlantic University, according to the company. The company moved its headquarters from Boca Raton, Fla., to Houston in 2007. HostGator is the fastest-growing private company in Texas and the No. 21 fastest growing private company in the country, according to Inc. Magazine.

Top Austin Employers 2010

Job Growth in Austin and Texas Continues to Improve. Austin Ranked 3rd in the Nation in Job Performance.

Beverly Kerr with the chamber combines local and national labor numbers to show how Austin’s job market is performing compared to the top 50 metros. Austin is one of three metros with year-over-year positive job growth. We ranked third in the nation with a positive job growth of 800 jobs.  Austin is still behind 20,200 jobs from our peak job month (November 2008). The Year-Over-Year chart below shows how job losses in both Austin and Texas bottomed out the middle of last year and have been steadily improving since then.

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