Partnership Chair Discusses How Business Community Can Act as a Bridge in Polarizing World
Greater Houston Partnership 2023 Board Chair Dr. Marc L. Boom outlined today how the business community can play a positive role in finding compromise solutions in today’s increasingly polarizing environment. Boom, who serves as President and CEO of Houston Methodist, made the comments at the Partnership’s 2023 annual meeting where leaders also summarized the organization’s key accomplishments in 2022 and presented an award to one of the city’s notable philanthropic families.
Boom said Houston is a remarkable city with a “can-do” attitude that’s as close to a meritocracy as anywhere else on the planet. He said he’s pleased with the region’s performance and excited about the many significant projects underway, from the Ion District and TMC Helix Park to new global headquarters and the expansion of the Houston Ship Channel.
However, he said he’s concerned about the culture of our community and the country as a whole. “When we get that culture right, we thrive. When we don’t get it right, we flounder,” Boom said. “We’ve created a perpetual ‘us versus them’ narrative and we are sorting ourselves out politically, religiously, geographically, etc. At best, we’ve created gridlock and an inability to create a better environment for our people. At worst, we are tearing away at the very fabric of what has made this country great.”
Boom offered that the best decisions happen when well-intentioned people with differing opinions work together to see all sides of an issue, respect one another, and listen to one another. “In contrast to what we see with most of our political discourse, the right answer is rarely an ‘or,’ it is an ‘and.’” He said we must work to create environments where it is ok to disagree. “In fact, an environment where it expected that people will sometimes respectfully disagree, and they will use those disagreements to make better decisions.”
Laying the groundwork for how he hopes to serve as Chair this year, Boom said the Partnership “is at its best when it helps mold consensus, when Houston business leaders commit to rolling up their sleeves and pursuing the “AND” as we tackle the issues that may impede Houston’s long-term growth.”
Houston made significant progress in 2022 in its economic development efforts, a priority for outgoing Partnership Chair Thad Hill, President and CEO of Calpine Corp. In his speech, Hill touted that the region notched more than 200 economic development wins last year. The Partnership convened more than 200 business leaders across 12 different economic development committees and recruitment initiatives last year, he said. “The economic development pipeline of opportunities has never looked so promising, and we’ll need your support to pull them across the finish line,” he told the Partnership members gathered for the annual meeting.
Hill also took a moment to thank Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey for his decade of service to the organization. Harvey announced in January that he would step down from his position at the end of 2023. “Bob has elevated the profile and strength of the organization and focused the business community on initiatives that continue to move Houston forward,” Hill said.
In his remarks, Harvey said he’s grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside so many of Houston’s great business and civic leaders. “I am particularly proud of our ability to supplement our traditional work in public policy, economic development, and member engagement with longer-term initiatives targeting Houston’s biggest issues like education and workforce, our innovation ecosystem, racial equity, and, most recently, the energy transition,” Harvey said. “When we look back 15-20 years from now, we will see the energy transition initiative as the most important thing we worked on together.”
The Partnership provided an update on its Houston Next strategic plan designed to advance Houston’s position as a great global city. The plan focuses on three core areas: building a strong, diverse 21st century economy; offering a great quality of life; and ensuring opportunity for all. In 2020, the Partnership added that a lens of racial equity should permeate its work to strengthen Houston as a diverse, inclusive and equitable city.
Key 2022 highlights include:
Spearheaded 25 successful economic development projects, accounting for over $1 billion in capital expenditure and more than 4,200 new jobs for the region.
Established sector-specific working groups under the Houston Energy Transition Initiative to advance work in CCUS, clean hydrogen, industrial decarbonization and capital formation.
Advanced the One Houston Together initiative by hosting 10 roundtable convenings, launching the first Houston Buyer Cohort to increase minority business spending, and publishing an economic impact report on minority business enterprises.
Hosted more than 11,000 business and community leaders across 56 major events, webinars, Council meetings and other gatherings.
Welcomed 153 international delegation visits from 68 countries around the world to strengthen the region’s international ties.
See more highlights in the 2022 Annual Report.
During the meeting, Partnership 2020 Chair Bobby Tudor presented the organization’s 2023 Robert C. McNair Civic Leadership Award to the Chao family. The McNair Award is the most prestigious award bestowed by the Partnership and honors a highly successful business leader who has also made outstanding civic and philanthropic contributions. See release on the McNair award.
Partnership members elected new and returning board members as well during the meeting. Individuals elected to Director Emeritus by vote of the membership include: Paul Hobby, Founding Partner, Genesis Park; Lynne Liberato, Senior Counsel, Haynes and Boone; and Jamey Rootes, Former President, Houston Texans (Posthumous).
Eric Mullins, Chairman and CEO of Lime Rock Resources, was elected Vice Chair and Chair-elect by the Partnership’s membership at the meeting. Mullins will chair the Partnership board in 2024. See list of new and returning board members.