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Rise to the Top: Renu Khator of the University of Houston

Published Sep 28, 2021 by A.J. Mistretta

Renu Khator

Renu Khator

In this episode of the Partnership's Rise to the Top podcast, we talk with Renu Khator, Chancellor of the University of Houston System and President of the University of Houston.

Host and Partnership Chair Amy Chronis discusses the university's meteoric rise with Renu, as well as how the university is preparing for the future of its students and our region. 

The conversation also touches on Renu's remarkable personal journey from young Indian immigrant to accomplished professor and eventual academic leader. We also learn about some of the UH Chancellor's favorite spots in Houston! Join us for this exciting conversation with Renu Khator.

Launched in August 2021, the Greater Houston Partnership's Rise to the Top podcast aims to amplify the insight of accomplished female leaders in the Houston region. 

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Learn more about the Partnership's female-focused business resource groups Executive Women's Partnership and Women's Business Alliance


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Economic Development

Economic Development, Public Policy and Addressing Violent Crime Among Topics in Partnership President's Address

The Partnership hosted the first in-person President’s Address this week for the organization’s members, with President and CEO Bob Harvey covering a variety of topics from economic development and public policy to energy transition and the rise in violent crime.  Harvey presented an overview of the organization’s recent work in these arenas before being joined by Partnership Chief Development Officer and SVP of Member Engagement Katie Pryor for a Q&A session.  Starting the conversation on the economic development front, Harvey said the Partnership has logged 14 project wins in the first five months of 2022. These represent $800 million in capital expenditures and 3,500 new and retained jobs in the region. In recent months, several Energy 2.0 companies announced plans in Houston, including Synthica Energy, which is developing a renewable natural gas facility on the Ship Channel, and Syzygy Plasmonics, which is moving its headquarters to Pearland to commercialize decarbonization technology for the heavy-chemicals sector.  Regarding public policy, Harvey told the audience that more than 60 members participated in the Partnership’s Washington D.C. Fly-In in the spring, which covered topics such as energy transition and large-scale infrastructure investments in the metro region. Looking ahead to the Texas Legislative Session that kicks off in January, Harvey said economic development incentives, higher education and energy transition are likely to be among the issues on the organization’s legislative agenda.  Harvey provided a brief update on the Partnership’s Houston Energy Transition Initiative, highlighting that four of the initiative’s working groups launched this spring. Those four working groups are focused on carbon capture use and storage, hydrogen, industry decarbonization and capital formation. A more robust update will come next week during the three-day Future of Global Energy conference June 28-30.  Noting the rise in violent crime here in Houston and around the country as well as growing anxiety around public safety, Harvey said a spectrum of local stakeholders will need to come together to identify solutions. A lack of courtroom availability as well as staffing shortages have led to a backlog in cases and a high rate of repeat offenders awaiting trial. Harvey said the Partnership is working in collaboration with local officials to help identify ways the business community can be part of the solution. He said he expects some movement in this arena in coming weeks.  Other topics of discussion included the region’s evolving innovation ecosystem, the Partnership’s racial equity work through One Houston Together and new workforce development efforts.   To attend an upcoming President’s Address and other Partnership events, view our events page and sign up for notifications when new events are posted.   
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Partnership Members Making News - June 2022

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.  Two Houston-based banks are merging under a new name. Allegiance Bancshares Inc. and CBTX Inc., the parent companies of Allegiance Bank and CommunityBank of Texas respectively, are coming together under the name Stellar Bank. The new Stellar Bank will have an estimated market capitalization of $1.5 billion with more than $11 billion in assets. The merger is expected to be complete within the next few weeks.  Chevron Corp. and TotalEnergies E&P USA will co-develop a major offshore oil and gas project in the Gulf of Mexico. Known as Ballymore, the project consists of three wells that the companies estimate could produce up to 150 million barrels of oil. Chevron has a 60% stake in the project and Houston-based TotalEnergies USA has a 40% stake. Development and construction are expected to cost about $1.6 billion.  Chevron Corp. has gifted the Houston Food Bank a 53-acre parcel of land that will allow the major nonprofit to expand its services in Houston and Southeast Texas. The land in Northwest Houston at Ella Blvd. and SH 249, valued at roughly $10 million, will eventually become the site of the Food Bank’s newest food distribution facility. According to the Houston Food Bank, between March 2020 and March 2021 alone, household food demand increased by 85%, reflecting the growth in households living in poverty or lacking the income to meet their basic needs. The new facility will help them better meet the growing need in the metro region.  Houston-based Gow Cos. has acquired Houston Exponential, the nonprofit launched in 2017 to grow the region's entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem. Gow Cos. agreed to purchase the assets of Houston Exponential and rolled those assets into a new for-profit company. According to partner Lawson Gow, the new HX will aim to amplify its ability to be a force for good in growing the region's tech and startup spaces, Gow said. HX will leverage the shared connections and industry expertise of other Gow Cos. entities to host shared events, grow its reach through various media channels, sharing back-end operational staff and selling bigger programming and sponsorships, Gow told the Houston Business Journal. HX is also expanding to Fort Bend County under a partnership with the Fort Bend Economic Development Council to serve founders and early-stage companies in that part of the region.  The Lone Star College System had a record graduation season for degrees awarded. LSCS presented 9,476 students with degrees and certificates this spring season, a 2% increase over spring 2021 and the highest number for any single season in the system’s history. The degrees awarded included baccalaureate degrees in the bachelor of applied technology in cybersecurity program and the bachelor of applied science in energy, manufacturing and trades management program—the first for LSCS. This was also the second year the college presented degrees for bachelor of science in nursing.  Healthgrades has named Houston Methodist the best hospital in Texas for the third year in a row. The respected healthcare rating platform also cited Houston Methodist, located within the Texas Medical Center, as one of the 50 best hospitals in the country—the only Texas hospital in that category. Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital, Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital, and Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center were all included in Healthgrades’ broader list of the nation’s top 250 hospitals. Meanwhile, Houston Methodist has awarded more than $4.6 million to 59 local nonprofits in the second installment of its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Grant Program. Midstream energy company Enbridge Inc. said it will team up with Humble Midstream LLC to build a hydrogen and ammonia production facility with export capability at its newly acquired crude export terminal near Corpus Christi. The “blue” hydrogen created via natural gas at the mega-terminal, known as the Ingleside Energy Center, may be used as fuel or for other industrial purposes. The joint-venture could cost $2.5 billion to $3 billion to build, but first the companies will need to secure enough customers for the products to make it worthwhile.  NASA has selected two aerospace companies with a Houston presence to move forward in developing next-generation spacesuits and spacewalk systems. Axiom Space, which recently broke ground on its headquarters at Houston Spaceport, and Collins Aerospace, which is building a manufacturing facility and startup incubator at Houston Spaceport, will compete for task orders under the Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services (xEVAS) contract. The contract has a maximum potential value of $3.5 billion through 2034.   In its recent annual report, Sempra described its role in helping build the modern energy networks to advance electrification and promote energy diversification. The company points to several examples across Texas from its family of companies, including Oncor Electric Delivery company, which is adding new transmission and distribution infrastructure to help enable the oil and natural gas industry to transition from diesel generation to electric equipment and is working to build out the West Texas power grid to continue to move wind- and solar-generated power to more urban parts of the state. In the Houston area, Sempra Infrastructure is looking to electrify its proposed liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities, providing lower carbon LNG to its partners. Shell Oil's U.S. retail division has acquired Houston-based gas station and convenience store chain Timewise. The deal, which includes 184 company-owned gas and service stations across Texas, will also allow Shell to take control over supply agreements for another 108 stores owned by independent dealers. The new deal expands Shell’s retail presence in Texas as it works to launch gasoline alternatives, including charging stations and biofuels for vehicles that use them.  Landry’s Inc. owner Tilman Fertitta is donating $50 million to help make the University of Houston’s fledgling medical school a force for improving health equity in Texas. The school, which was founded in 2019 and is set to open its $80 million building later this summer, is being renamed the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine in recognition of the game-changing donation. One of the goals of the new medical school is to encourage graduates to pursue careers as primary care physicians to help satisfy the growing need for such care in Texas.  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 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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27th Annual Golf Classic

The Greater Houston Partnership returns to the greens for its annual Golf Classic on Thursday, November 17 at the Memorial Park Golf Course. The 2022 Golf Classic is chaired William (Bill) Toomey, President of…

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