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National Chamber Day: Partnership's Impact

Published Oct 20, 2021 by David Ruiz

Partnership Tower

Partnership Tower

Since 1840, the Greater Houston Partnership has strived to make the Houston region the best place to live, work and build a business. Through the dedicated efforts of our 900 member companies in the 12-county Houston region, the Partnership supports the growth of industry and innovation by convening community-minded business leaders with one goal in mind - to make Houston greater. 

While the world around us is rapidly changing, the Partnership remains committed to our mission-driven work that promotes Houston’s growth. As Houston’s largest regional chamber of commerce and principal business organization, the Partnership is recognizing this year’s Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day by looking back at some of the greatest impacts we’ve made in Houston in the last year. 

Serving as a Robust COVID-19 Resource

The virus’ arrival to Houston in the spring of 2020 drastically changed how the Partnership served our region. Halting in-person interactions to ensure the health and safety of our members, the Partnership quickly shifted major events, programs and meetings to an online environment. Through virtual forums with leading medical experts, as well as comprehensive communications through email, social media and the Partnership’s website, Houston.org, our organization worked closely with leadership at the Texas Medical Center to become a reliable source of COVID-19 data, best business practices, and health and safety information. 

Tom DeBesse, Region Bank President of Houston North Region at Wells Fargo, said staying engaged with the Partnership during this critical time ensured his team remained well informed to make important decisions on employee and customer safety. 

"I can’t tell you how important it has been to stay on top of information regarding COVID-19 as we’ve had to make changes to our daily operations during these difficult times,” DeBesse said. “The Greater Houston Partnership has served as a valuable resource for us—providing timely and useful updates that bring awareness and insight to news, health data, and best practices as it pertains to impacting our local business community."

Convening the Greater Houston Business Community

Serving 900 member companies, the Partnership plays a major role for facilitating local, national and international business connections. Providing an avenue for connections through events, membership networking and business-driven conversations, allows Houston – and businesses to benefit in ways that are most valuable to their company. 

Tracy Weeden, President & CEO of Neuhaus Education Center, said the connections she’s formed through her membership with the Partnership have made a significant impact on her business. 

“Becoming a member of the Partnership was one of the best professional decisions I’ve made as a CEO,” Weeden said. “Even though I’m leading a nonprofit, the ability to cross-pollinate with organizations in various industries is extremely helpful. Interacting and benefiting from the thought leadership in the business community has shown me that they are really tackling the same issues we are facing.”

Impact-Driven

The Partnership work to promote economic development and trade is reflected through our initiatives and economic development projects. Most recently, the Partnership launched the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, which will be guided by a strategic regional blueprint for leading the global energy transition to a low-carbon world. This initiative demonstrates the collective impact the Partnership makes when convening key stakeholders across industry, government and academia and highlights the organization's work to position Houston among the great global cities of the future.

Steve Clarke, Division Vice President of Jacobs and Chair of the Partnership’s Infrastructure and Resiliency Advisory Committee, said he’s proud to play a role in the Partnership’s impact to infrastructure projects around the region. 

“It is not often that you get to be part of a legacy project that will ultimately protect millions of our fellow Texans and change the way that we all look at Coastal Resilience,” Clarke said. “Thanks to the Greater Houston Partnership and the members of the Infrastructure Resiliency Advisory Committee, that I’ve had the honor of chairing the past 2 years, for your advocacy and lobbying that have made coastal infrastructure projects like this and many others possible.”

Learn more about the Partnership’s impact. Have a testimonial you'd like to share with us? Share your story with our Member Engagement team

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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.   
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New Generation of Startups Aim to Fuel Resurgence of Advanced Manufacturing in Houston

5/13/22
An autonomous rover dubbed the “layout Roomba” that marks architectural and engineering designs directly onto unfinished concrete floors is one of many examples of the innovation happening in Houston’s advanced manufacturing sector. The city boasts a thriving tech ecosystem and is considered a global manufacturing powerhouse due to its central geographic location, unparalleled infrastructure and talented workforce.  Funding is now flowing into Houston to help drive the next wave of manufacturing innovation. According to the Partnership’s 2022 Houston Tech Report, more than 900 investors have funded over 1,500 venture capital transactions in the Houston region over the last five years. Data shows that 8.6% of all VC deals are funding manufacturing projects with another 8.7% funding AI and machine learning ventures.  “I think Houston is a great place to start a company. It hosts a diverse pool of exceptional talent, a reasonable cost of living and a welcoming start-up community,” said Derrick Morse, CEO and founder of Rugged Robotics. “Houston is also home to a number of innovative companies that solve really hard and really important problems.”  Rugged Robotics, a Houston startup company founded in 2018, hopes to revolutionize the construction industry by tackling the challenge of field layout by using its small robot to create a more detailed, more accurate and faster way of doing the work. Traditionally, a construction worker must do the marking manually using tape measures, chalk lines and surveying equipment. Morse, a construction industry veteran, said he saw a need to solve a pain point in the construction industry. “By focusing on the problem, and by developing a practical solution, we’ve unlocked a very exciting opportunity” Morse said. Rugged Robotics is operating out of the East End Maker Hub, a makerspace and manufacturing center in Houston’s East End. Morse said it was a no-brainer to choose the incubator as they started growing. “The East End Maker Hub was initially attractive for two reasons,” Morse said.  “First, access to the machine tools and rapid prototyping equipment we were familiar with at TXRX, and second, flexibility.” He added that the flexibility of the leases allows the company to move into bigger spaces as they evolve. Next month will mark a year since the $38 million innovation hub opened. Urban Partnerships Community Development Corporation says the facility is 95% occupied with 49 tenants from candle making to biotech/manufacturing, a sign of a successful first year. The East End Maker Hub aims to create 1,000 new companies over the next five years to boost Houston’s advanced manufacturing jobs. Houston has one of the largest manufacturing workforces in the country with more than 213,100 workers, but it declined by 8.6% between 2015 and 2020, according to the Partnership’s analysis. “We've retained or created over 330 jobs thus far and aim for 500 in the coming years. We're a model for how to use public funding to jump start development to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Natasha Azizi, Executive Director of UP CDC and East End Maker Hub. The East End Maker Hub is part of several landmark projects to position Houston as a national leader in tech innovation.  According to the Houston Tech Report, venture capital investments have grown  from $423 million in 2017 to $2.02 billion in 2021, a near five-fold increase and an unprecedented 47.4% growth rate per year. Click to expand Rugged Robotics team Rugged Robotics recently raised $9.4 million in Series A funding to help the company hire more people, expand its products and more. “We’ve built an amazing foundation, and I’m excited by the road ahead.  Our team is truly inspiring.  I can’t wait to see what we’re capable of,” Morse said. Learn more about Houston's advanced manufacturing sector and innovation ecosystem.   
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