Skip to main content

Key Points from the 2019 Policy Summit

Published Dec 10, 2019 by Sophia Guevara

Houston skyline with roads (2).jpg

On December 4, the Partnership convened the members of each of the nine Public Policy Committees at the 2019 Policy Summit to share and celebrate their collective accomplishments from this year and plan for the year ahead. 2018 Partnership board chair Marc Watts began the meeting by engaging committee members with the Partnership’s new strategic plan called Houston Next.

Although the Policy Summit marked the first significant broad-based engagement of Partnership members on Houston Next, members’ efforts in committees have already begun to move the needle on achieving the plan’s strategic goals. The work of each committee this year is summarized here.

The Houston Next Strategy, first unveiled at the Partnership’s annual meeting in January, focuses on how to advance Houston as a great global city and the role the Partnership should play in shaping it. After a lot of discussion, the Partnership concluded that the new strategic plan would focus on three broad dimensions:

  1. A great global city must have a strong, diverse “21st Century” economy.
  2. It must offer – and be known for – a great quality of life.
  3. And it must provide opportunity for all – both to its current citizens and those who are attracted to it.

During the Policy Summit, committee members divided into three workgroups to develop a deeper understanding of their role in advancing Houston as a great global city as laid out by the Houston Next strategy within these three focus areas and the role their committee will play in reaching those goals.

Strong, Diverse Economy
The Energy Advisory Committee, chaired by Scott Nyquist, and the Sustainability Advisory Committee, chaired by Amy Chronis, led a discussion on the impacts of the energy transition in building a strong, diverse economy. Energy still makes up roughly one-third of Houston’s economy. In order to ensure the continuation of a strong economic base for the region, it is important to position Houston to lead the energy transition. Simply put, no other market in the world has the energy-centric expertise needed to lead the way. Committee members offered their knowledge on how Houston should develop a common language regarding the energy transition. For instance, there are phrases describing the energy transition that are used by various businesses, government entities and other organizations that are not sufficiently aligned or consistent. The committees inventoried energy transition activities, including the many technologies that will contribute to effective and efficient carbon management. Finally, the committees discussed potential policies that enable or inhibit the energy transition.

Great Quality of Life
The Transportation Advisory Committee, led by Mark Cover, chair, and Walt Mischer, vice-chair, the Infrastructure and Resiliency Advisory Committee, chaired by Steve Clarke, the Health Care Advisory Committee, chaired by Troy Villarreal, and the Quality of Place Advisory Committee, chaired by Ric Campo, identified points of intersection between transportation, infrastructure and resiliency, and health care to create a better quality of life for Houstonians. Related to transportation, while Houston’s congestion compares favorably to many of the region’s global peer cities, Houston needs a new mobility plan designed around new technologies and changing demographic and residency patterns. Members recognized that a step has been taken in the right direction when, in November, voters approved the METRONext plan. The plan can have downstream effects by improving transportation infrastructure and routes to health care facilities, which in turn uplifts quality of life. In the new year, members identified the North Houston Highway Improvement Project, the $7 billion, 24-mile, TxDOT project to rebuild IH-45 from Beltway 8 through downtown as a prime example of transportation, infrastructure and greenspace opportunities aligning to improve quality of life for Houstonians.

Opportunity for All
The Public Education Advisory Committee, chaired by Andy Waite, and the Higher Education Advisory Committee, chaired by Thad Hill, plotted a student’s public education through common milestones and transition points from early through higher education. The committees discussed common barriers to persistence and completion as well as key wrap around services and proven methods for improving academic achievement. Committee members identified systemwide opportunities for successful student transitions in their various periods of education, including potential methods to better support and uplift the teaching profession. 

Fireside Chat with Scott McClelland and Bobby Tudor
At the conclusion of the Policy Summit, Partnership President and CEO, Bob Harvey, moderated a discussion with 2019 board chair Scott McClelland and incoming board chair Bobby Tudor. Harvey asked Tudor what his focus areas will be as chair of the Partnership. Tudor said that following the Partnership’s recent efforts in public education, he will continue that work as chair although there needs to be a firmer grasp on how “Opportunity for All” is defined. He then stated his primary focus would be on growing Houston’s role in leading the energy transition. In response to a question from Harvey about the growing emphasis on how the Partnership should respond to “conscious capitalism” – from Environmental Social Governance Funds to the Business Roundtable’s issuing a statement that their priority is no longer simply creating shareholder value but also to ensure more inclusive prosperity – Tudor said that the oil and gas industry needs to respond to and be seen as a solutions partner for a low carbon future and a leader in the energy transition. McClelland said that Houston needs to the continue to grow its energy sector but at the same time also look at the commercialization of life sciences, supporting the growth of the port and tech industry to balance the regional economy. 

By all accounts, 2019 was an exceptional year at the Partnership made possible by the committee members and chairs. The Partnership’s Policy Advisory Committees will continue their work within the Houston Next strategic plan in 2020. For more information about the committees’ accomplishments this year, click here. 

To learn about how to join the Policy Committees, please email member.engagement@houston.org

Related News

Membership

Partnership Members Making News - May 2022

5/17/22
The Greater Houston Partnership celebrates our members making important announcements and sharing news about their operations and impact in our community. Learn more about some of those announcements over the last month below.  Accenture ranks No. 1 on DiversityInc’s 2022 Top 50 Companies for Diversity. This is the 16th consecutive year that the consulting company has ranked on the respected list for the company’s work to create an inclusive and equitable culture. DiversityInc evaluates companies in six areas: human capital diversity metrics, leadership accountability, talent programs, workplace practices, supplier diversity and philanthropy.  Axiom Space broke ground on May 11 on a new 400,000-square-foot headquarters facility at the Houston Spaceport. The aerospace company will build the world’s first commercial space station at the 22-acre facility on Space Center Boulevard. The new headquarters will also house a training facility for astronauts, manufacturing and testing operations and office space. Axiom Space made history in April with the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station.  BakerRipley President and CEO Claudia Aguirre talked about the effect the pandemic has had on the region’s largest nonprofit organization and much more in a wide-ranging interview with the Houston Chronicle. Aguirre, who has been with BakerRipley since 2010, took the reins of the 1,600-employee organization in 2017. BakerRipley provides services ranging from child education to workforce development. Aguirre currently serves on the boards of several organizations including the Partnership and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.  Leading energy companies BP and Linde announced plans in mid-May to move forward with a large-scale carbon capture and storage project in the Houston region. The project would enable low-carbon hydrogen production at Linde’s existing facilities and establish a framework for broader decarbonization efforts on the Texas Gulf Coast industrial corridor. The sequestered hydrogen would be sold customers along Linde’s pipeline network under long-term contracts, enabling production of low carbon chemicals and fuels.  Houston Methodist is beginning work on a new $1.4 billion tower in the Texas Medical Center. The 26-story Centennial Tower will include a new emergency department and updated imaging services. When it opens in 2027, Centennial Tower will replace Methodist’s main building on Fannin St. The new tower will be approximately double the size of the hospital’s current facility.  The emerging Ion District in Midtown is now part of a prestigious network of innovation hubs around the world. An affiliate of the Brookings Institute, the Global Network of Innovation Districts is comprised of innovation leaders and commercial developers. The Ion District is the first such project to join the network in Texas, joining 21 other districts from Pittsburgh to Amsterdam. The Ion itself anchors the 16-acre district that also currently includes Greentown Labs. Kroger Houston Division President Laura Gump was the subject of a recent Houston Chronicle business profile. Gump joined Kroger in 2020 and is the company’s first Hispanic female president of the nation’s largest supermarket chain. In the Q&A-style piece, Gump shared her thoughts on the evolution of the grocery business, the effect of inflation on consumer buying, the supply-chain crisis and much more.  The Lone Star College System (LSCS) will launch a new virtual campus in August as it works to satisfy increasing demand for online degree programs. The virtual campus will add $2 million to LSCS’s existing budget and significantly expand its catalogue of e-learning options. Officials say that while the pandemic has amplified demand for e-learning, the virtual campus has actually been in the works for nearly a decade. The campus will launch with approximately 40 full-time staff members.  Nine energy startups from across the country were recognized as the most promising in a pitch competition during the Offshore Technology Conference earlier this month. The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship staged its annual pitch competition at the Ion in Midtown. Investors heard three-minute pitches from nearly 40 energy tech companies and cited nine startups as having the most potential.  Southwest Airlines will invest $42 million to expand its fuel storage facility at Hobby Airport. Houston City Council approved the plan on May 11, paving the way for increased fuel capacity at Southwest’s primary airport in Houston. The airline says the measure is needed to mitigate the effects of potential supply disruptions, increasing the airport’s capacity from two or three days of fuel inventory to five or six.  If you are a member and want us to help communicate news about your organization, please send a press release or information about the announcement to member.engagement@houston.org and we will share it with our content team for possible inclusion in an upcoming roundup. Learn more about Partnership membership.   
Read More
Growth

New Partnership Members in April

5/9/22
The Greater Houston Partnership welcomed 11 new member companies in the month of April. The Partnership works to connect companies with resources, information and networking opportunities to help increase business while also providing a platform to influence the direction of the region.  New members who joined in April include: ALLY Energy: ALLY Energy is a community and online platform designed to attract, retain and develop the next generation of energy talent. Website Cushman & Wakefield U.S., Inc.: Commercial real estate services firm, including brokerage, advisory services, asset management and corporate services. Website Drax Group PLC: Drax Group is a renewable energy company engaged in renewable power generation, the production of sustainable biomass and the sale of renewable electricity to businesses. Website Harris Health System: Healthcare. Website HNB Realty: HNB Realty is an asset management and investment consultancy designed for private investors by private investors. Website Impact Networking, LLC: Impact Networking works primarily with businesses of all sizes to alleviate the challenges of adopting and implementing new technology and processes. Website NFI Industries: NFI is a fully-integrated third party logistics provider including distribution and warehousing, dedicated transportation, non-asset logistics, port services, and industrial real estate. Website She's Happy Hair: She’s Happy Hair is a veteran operated, black-owned business that recognized a void in the hair industry. Website Solidatus: Solidatus is transforming data management with dynamic, visual maps of data relationships and flows. Website The Taligens Group LLC: Taligens Group is a learning organization committed to helping achieve your definition of success in the areas of ERP training, change management initiatives and talent management needs. Website View: View is the global leader in Dynamic (electrochromic) Smart Glass. Website Click here to see the Partnership's Membership Directory. To learn more about membership with the Greater Houston Partnership click here, or contact membership@houston.org.
Read More

Related Events

Membership

2022 Soirée - Sparking Brilliance

The 2022 Soirée is the Greater Houston Partnership's annual gala highlighting the regional brilliance that has positioned Houston as a center for world-changing innovations. We hope you will join us for this…

Learn More
Learn More