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Greater Houston Partnership Outlines Steps to Grow Houston’s Economy, Celebrates Key 2020 Accomplishments

Published Jan 25, 2021 by A.J. Mistretta

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HOUSTON (January 26, 2021) – The Greater Houston Partnership outlined some of the steps needed to grow Houston’s economy in a post-pandemic world, shared the organization’s key accomplishments in 2020, and presented an award to one of the city’s leading business leaders and philanthropists at its annual meeting today. 

2021 Partnership Board Chair Amy Chronis, Houston Managing Partner for Deloitte, discussed what Houston must do to ensure it remains a competitive global city in a post-pandemic world. “I suggest it will be those metros whose businesses are focused on developing the technologies and driving innovations that change the world,” Chronis said during the virtual event. “Over time, Houston has both diversified its economy, and more recently, has bolstered our innovation ecosystem…But to build a strong, diverse, 21st century economy, Houston must drive a technological renaissance.” Read Chronis’ full remarks.

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing recession, the Partnership made considerable progress on several fronts over the last year, said Bobby Tudor, who served as the organization’s 2020 Chair and is also Chair of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. LLC. Tudor, who laid out a plan for Houston to help lead the global energy transition to a low-carbon future at the beginning of his tenure, said energy companies have largely committed to the effort while the region has attracted key new players. One example is North America’s largest “climatetech” incubator Greentown Labs, which announced in June it would open a new Houston facility this year to assist emerging energy companies. 

“The momentum in Houston related to energy transition is quite good,” Tudor said. “It will take the continued focus and attention from all of us in the business community to see to it that Houston goes through this energy transition period and comes out of it on the other end with the same global leadership position in energy that we have today.”  

The Partnership provided an update on its Houston Next strategic plan designed to advance Houston’s position as a great global city. The plan, adopted in 2019, focuses attention 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 2020 highlights include: 

  • Spearheaded 21 successful economic development projects, accounting for $704 million in capital expenditures and 3,200 jobs for the region.
  • Created the One Houston Together initiative, leveraging the power of the business community to address racial inequity in Houston. 
  • Launched the Work Safe Company program, establishing principles to guide employers on safe operating practices during the pandemic. More than 180 companies have pledged to follow the principles. 
  • Led four domestic and international missions aimed at recruiting companies and strengthening business ties. 
  • Welcomed 86 international delegation visits (mostly virtual) from 28 countries around the world. 
  • Hosted 25,333 business and community leaders at 37 major virtual events and webinars. 
  • Hosted 50 elected officials for the Future of Texas series, affording business leaders the opportunity to engage directly with lawmakers on important issues.  

See more highlights in the 2020 Annual Report

“These have not been easy days for companies in our region, both large and small,” said Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey. “For nearly a year now, our members and businesses across Houston have struggled to keep employees and customers safe while maintaining operations as best they could. This has proven more difficult for some than others, but time and again I’m amazed by the resiliency of Houston companies to innovate and persevere in the face of significant obstacles. I believe brighter days are ahead for our region.” 

Harvey touted other major accomplishments during the year, including economic development announcements from companies such as Amazon and Google Cloud that will add hundreds of jobs. In November, tech giant Hewlett Packard Enterprise said it would relocate its corporate headquarters from San Jose, Calif. to Houston, giving our region another Fortune 500 company. And in a move certain to invigorate the region’s commercial aerospace sector, Axiom Space announced in December it will build the world’s first commercial space station at a new headquarters facility it is constructing at the Houston Spaceport. Read Bob Harvey’s full remarks.

During the meeting, Partnership Board Member and Houston Texans President Jamey Rootes presented the Partnership’s 2021 Robert C. McNair Civic Leadership Award to businessman and philanthropist Richard Kinder. 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 virtual meeting.  Thad Hill, President and CEO of Calpine, was elected Vice Chair and Chair-elect.

2021 Greater Houston Partnership Board of Directors – Newly Elected and Returning Members 
 
New Members 
 
Esi Akinosho
Houston Office Managing Partner
Ernst & Young LLP

Jason Baker
President, Houston Market
Comerica Bank

Tammy W. Brennig
Partner
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP
 
Alex Cabañas
CEO
Benchmark Hospitality 
 
John R. Collett
Senior Client Partner
Korn Ferry International

Caleb Deerinwater
Vice President & General Manager – South Texas
AT&T 

Mary Beth Gracy 
Houston Office Managing Director
Accenture
 
Monzer Hourani
CEO
Medistar Corporation

Kevin P. Hourican
President and CEO
Sysco Corporation
 
Steven J. Kean
CEO
Kinder Morgan
 
Gregory Knight
Executive Vice President, Customer Transformation and Business Services
CenterPoint Energy
 
Lorena Kubera
Vice President, Personal Systems, Strategy & Business Planning
HP Inc.
 
Julie Luecht
Houston Office Managing Principal
KPMG
 
Paul Marsden
President
Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals, Inc.
 
Amanda McMillian
President and CEO
United Way of Greater Houston
 
Mia Mends
Chief Administrative Officer
Sodexo
 
John Nash
President
Hanover Company
 
Gerald B. Smith
Chairman and CEO
Smith Graham & Co., Investment Advisors, LP
 
John Sowers
Chief Transformation Officer
Sempra Energy
 
Starlee Sykes
Regional President for the Gulf of Mexico and Canada
bp America
 
Arja Talakar
CEO, Siemens Oil & Gas
Siemens Corporation
 
Brad Tucker
President
Mustang Cat
 
Rishi Varma
SVP and General Counsel
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
 
Laurie Vignaud
President & CEO 
Unity National Bank
 
Re-Elected Members 
 
David L. Callender
President and CEO
Memorial Hermann Health System
 
Tony Canales
President and General Manager
Telemundo Houston KTMD-47
 
Albert Chao
President and CEO
Westlake Chemical
 
Stanley G. Chapman, III
EVP & President, US and Mexico Natural Gas Pipelines
TC Energy

Amy Chronis
Managing Partner
Deloitte
 
Steve Clarke
Division Vice President, Coastal Texas 
Jacobs

Michelle Costa
Regional President
Clear Channel Outdoor
 
Mark A. Cover
CEO, Southwest Region and Mexico/Central America
Hines
 
M. Carter Crow
Partner-in-Charge
Norton Rose Fulbright

Leslie Duke
President and General Manager
Burns & McDonnell, Inc.
 
George Y. Gonzalez
Partner
Haynes and Boone, LLP
 
Tilman J. Fertitta
Chairman, President and CEO
Landry's Inc. 

Thad Hill
President and CEO
Calpine Corporation

Ryan M. Lance
Chairman and CEO
ConocoPhillips
 
Alex López Negrete

President and CEO
Lopez Negrete Communications Inc.
 
Eric Mullins
Chairman and Co-CEO 
Lime Rock Resources
 
Geraldine Slattery
President, Operations Petroleum
BHP
 
Robert B. Sloan
President
Houston Baptist University
 
Bruce Stewart
President, Direct Energy Home
Direct Energy
 
David Taylor
Firm Chair and Partner
Locke Lord
 
Alan Thomson
Managing Director and Senior Partner 
The Boston Consulting Group

Stephen M. Trauber
Vice Chairman and Global Head of Energy
Citigroup 
 
Sheel Tyle
Founder and CEO
Amplo
 
Massey Villarreal
President and CEO
Precision Task Group Inc.
 
Rich Wells
VP of U.S. Gulf Coast Operations & Site Director of Texas Operations
The Dow Chemical Company, Freeport
 

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Greater Houston Partnership
The Greater Houston Partnership works to make Houston one of the best places to live, work and build a business. As the economic development organization for the Houston region, the Partnership champions growth across 12 counties by bringing together business and civic-minded leaders who are dedicated to the area’s long-term success. Representing 1,100 member organizations and approximately one-fifth of the region’s workforce, the Partnership is the place business leaders come together to make an impact. Learn more at Houston.org.

A.J. Mistretta
Vice President, Communications         
(c) 504-450-3516 | amistretta@houston.org 

Maggie Martin 
Senior Manager, Communications         
(c) 832-690-0206 | mmartin@houston.org 

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