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Local Priorities

The Greater Houston Partnership works with our city and county leaders to foster a thriving business environment and economic development which is critical to making Houston greater. In order to advance the Houston region, the Greater Houston Partnership supports city and county policies that create a business environment attractive to leading global companies and skilled talent.

Violent Crime and Public Safety

Like many other metropolitan cities across the nation, Houston has been experiencing a recent uptick in criminal and violent activity. Additionally, Harris County is facing over 100,000 in backlogged criminal court cases stemming from the impacts of both Hurricane Harvey's destruction of the criminal court building and the operational disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of these backlogged cases have been sitting unaddressed for close to four years.

Without a functional and timely court system and operating with a sensible bail structure for violent crimes, those who seek to commit these crimes will continue to act with impunity. 

The Greater Houston Partnership is supporting our local leaders as they work to address the increase in violent crimes, improve public safety and providing law enforcement the support they need, and invest critical resources to clear out the backlog of cases.   

Economic Development

The Partnership promotes policies, programs, and investments which encourage inclusive economic development in the greater Houston region and across its major industry sectors, including energy, life sciences, manufacturing and logistics, commercial aerospace and aviation, and digital technology. Economic development initiatives help to maintain a diverse local economy, while creating and retaining jobs, and improving the quality of life of greater Houston.

The Partnership believes competitive economic development tools are critical to bringing new businesses to the region and growing our economy, and the Partnership stands ready to work with all stakeholders and policymakers to develop new opportunities that will serve as economic engines for our region.

KEI Meta - Building Contracts

Infrastructure Opportunities

Congress recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which provided $550 billion in new spending for infrastructure projects relating to transportation (including transit, highway, and freight), energy and power grid infrastructure, broadband, electric vehicles, and flood mitigation. This once in a generation opportunity contains over 130 competitive grant opportunities offering a total of $120 billion in project funding. The Partnership works with our public and private partners to develop priorities for the Houston region and strategies to capture resources.

Transportation

Given the interdependency of our regional, national, and international markets, maximizing the region’s economic prosperity depends on efficiently moving goods and people throughout the region. 
 
The Partnership supports the Federal Highway Administration's working with the Texas Department of Transportation, local officials, and complainants to resolve and conclude its evaluation of the I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) [link to page]. An expeditious evaluation of the FHWA’s concerns under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related environmental justice issues regarding the NHHIP will allow this critical project to move forward. 

The NHHIP can be a transformative project to alleviate congestion, enhance safety, expand transit options, and address flood mitigation and disaster evacuation needs. While the project is on hold, improvements are challenging to make within the existing Record of Decision and Final Environmental Impact Statement. It is important that existing concerns are evaluated and resolved so that this project can improve mobility, connectivity, air quality and achieve logistical efficiencies, while simultaneously attracting new investment into our region.

The Partnership has long-supported investments in the region's transit infrastructure. The Partnership urged voters' passage of the $3.5 billion METRO Next bond program, and the organization takes an active interest in the program's leveraging of federal funds and implementation.

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Flood Mitigation

Strengthening infrastructure in coastal areas is important, especially when that coastal area is also the Energy Capital of the World. The Partnership supports the construction of a coastal barrier to protect residents and critical industry from the hazards of severe weather events and storm surge. 
 
The Partnership supports the efforts between local officials, the congressional delegation, the Corps, and the non-federal sponsors – the Texas General Land Office and the Gulf Coast Protection District (GCPD) – to move this project forward. 
 
Preventative infrastructure projects, like the Coastal Barrier, can help mitigate the devastation from a catastrophic storm surge and save the tens of billions of dollars in disaster recovery funding by protecting vulnerable communities. Impacts to the Houston Ship Channel alone would disrupt the annual handling of nearly 250 million tons of cargo, over $800 billion in annual economic activity, over three million jobs, and the supply of approximately 60 percent of the nation’s jet fuel and 30 percent of the nation’s gasoline. The coastal barrier is also an investment in our national economic security. The Houston region is home to one of the largest concentrations of refining and petrochemical complexes in the world, and a storm’s direct hit to the unprotected ship channel would have devastating economic consequences across our nation. 
 
Inland, the Partnership champions city and county investments in flood mitigation. The Partnership is a long-time supporter of the 2018 Harris County Flood Control District $2.5 billion bond program. We are pleased that all of the bond program projects have been initiated and support their timely construction. The Partnership urges the adoption by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development of a state Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) mitigation program amendment, which would allocate at least $750 million in resources for flood mitigation projects in Harris County. The Partnership urges increased investment in Harris County and a direct allocation to the City of Houston for CDBG mitigation funds.

Houston Ship Channel Expansion

The Partnership supports the widening and deepening of the Houston Ship Channel to provide safe and efficient transit for each vessel traversing the busiest deep-draft trade waterway in the nation. With the project included in WRDA passed by Congress at the end of 2020 and $142 million in Corps funding included in the agency's FY 2022 work plan, we continue to work collaboratively with local officials, the federal government, Port of Houston Authority, and private industry to ensure the project's completion.

Port of Houston

Houston's Energy Transition

Because of the region’s position as the Energy Capital of the World, the Partnership and its member companies pursue federal policies that invest in Houston’s position in leading the global energy transition and creating high-quality, high-growth jobs. Last fall, the Partnership launched the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI). Through this initiative, the Partnership embraces the dual challenge of the energy transition by meeting growing global demand for energy while lowering emissions. 
 
Within HETI, the Partnership engages in industry-led working groups across a handful of issues. The work groups leverage Houston’s energy leadership to accelerate global solutions for a low-carbon future. Members collaborate to develop low carbon technologies, including carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), hydrogen, energy storage and innovations associated with the circular economy. Working group members also identify solutions for the decarbonization of industrial assets, capital and funding needs, and university research and innovation ecosystem infrastructure. 
 
There is tremendous business opportunity in addressing the dual challenge through developing and scaling technologies, creating and servicing markets for the global energy mix, and investing in energy priorities. If no action is taken to respond to the changing energy landscape, Houston could lose up to 650,000 jobs in a 1.5 Celsius Pathway that calls for CO2 emissions to drop by 90 percent by 2050. With decisive action for Houston to lead in the energy transition, Houston could gain up to 560,000 additional jobs by 2050.
 
Through leveraging members’ experience and expertise, the Partnership works with local governments to advance the region's energy competitiveness and secure Houston’s position as a leader in the global energy transition. In the City of Houston, the Partnership supported the development of the City's Climate Action Plan and Resilient Houston strategy. The Partnership channeled the business community's voice in the development of these plans. The organization is engaged in the Climate Action Plan development at Harris County.

Green Space & Park Development

To be a more resilient city and improve our region's quality of life, Houston must have thriving parks. The Greater Houston Partnership is active in the 50/50 Park Partners program, alongside Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, the Houston Parks & Recreation Department, and the Houston Parks Board. The program drives positive social, environmental, and economic change through creating long-term relationships for sustained impact between businesses, communities, and parks.

Learn more about becoming a 50/50 Park Partner

Hermann Park trail crowd

Convening to Make an Impact

The Partnership's impact work happens through Committees, which convene business and community leaders to fuel the growth and vitality of the Houston region. 

Public Policy Updates

Related News

Public Policy

Partnership Urges Advancement of Coastal Spine Project for a More Resilient Houston

10/6/22
In late September, the Greater Houston Partnership, in collaboration with the Gulf Coast Protection District (GCPD), coordinated a trip to Washington D.C., to educate on the importance of the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration project. The Coastal Spine – a barrier flood gate and levee system located along the upper Texas coastline, was recommended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to shield Port Houston, the Houston Ship Channel, and surrounding petrochemical producers from catastrophic weather events.   The Coastal Spine is designed to protect the critical infrastructure along our coastline that supports supply chains across the globe. The greater Houston region is home to the largest petrochemical producers in the world. These products range from gasoline for our vehicles to semiconductors to everyday products, including food and drink packaging, appliances, and electronics, hardware, construction materials, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and automotive parts and tires. Many products that travel through Port Houston, which serves as the number one U.S. port in waterborne tonnage, provide more than $800 billion in national economic value.     The project will also safeguard the more than 7.2 million residents of the metro Houston area from severe weather events. In September 2008, Kemah, Texas, saw a 17-foot surge from Hurricane Ike. A similar system is used in the Netherlands to keep encroaching ocean waters from intruding upon critical infrastructure and human life. In this instance, we are targeting the devastating effects of storm surges.    Delegation members in attendance:  State Senator Larry Taylor  Mayor Michel Bechtel  Mayor Carl Joiner  Galveston City Council Member Marie Robb  Bob Mitchell  Sally Bakko  GCPD Executive Director Nicole Sunstrum  Phillip Fordham with LyondellBasell  Partnership Public Policy team members  The delegation engaged with staff from the offices of Senators Cornyn and Cruz and staff from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee. The group met all four Texas appropriators: Ranking Member Kay Granger, Congressman Henry Cuellar, Congressman Judge Carter, and Congressman Tony Gonzales.     During the short visit, the delegation also connected with several trade associations, including the American Petroleum Institute, the American Chemistry Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.     With the Partnership’s help, Texas will secure support from all levels of government to realize the Coastal Texas Program, to protect the lives, economy, and national security assets, all supported by Port Houston and the Houston Ship Channel. Learn more about the Partnership's agenda for the 88th Texas Legislative session. 
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Living In Houston

Fighting for a More Flood Resilient Houston Region

8/22/22
Houston is a region of great opportunity, but combatting major challenges remains key to the metro area’s continued growth and prosperity.  On August 25, 2017 – five years ago this month – Hurricane Harvey made landfall just south of Houston. As the destructive storm slowly trekked north, it brought with it devastating rainfall and revealed our region’s vulnerability to flooding.  Fortunately, the exposure to flooding did not go unnoticed as all levels of government, federal, state, and local came together to provide relief and offer preventative solutions that would help alleviate future flood events. And the Partnership supported these multilevel efforts, working hand-in-hand to offer guidance and prospective solutions.  This post does not do justice to the many prospective, ongoing, and completed mitigation projects that have and will fortify our region from excessive flooding for decades. But we hope to shine some light on the progress made.  At the Federal level, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has received a large appropriation from Congress for the new Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) grant opportunity, which would lead to billions of dollars for the Houston region for flood mitigation projects. This particular funding was developed specifically for use around preventative measures to combat future severe weather events and not in response to any previous natural disasters. While these projects have yet to be undertaken, they will certainly provide necessary relief, particularly working in conjunction with state and local funds.  The State of Texas worked to realize the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF), which is a nearly $800 million fund that the state legislature appropriated following its creation via constitutional referendum. The fund has supported efforts to mitigate flooding and will work in concert with the state flood map as well as federal funding to protect property and life from devastating natural disasters. For example, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved $10 million to widen and deepen Taylor Gully, which is a project that both the City of Houston as well as Harris County collaborated on to increase water conveyance and take more than 400 homes out of the flood zone. Locally, Harris County worked – with the Partnership as a supporter – to secure the 2018 Harris County Flood Control District’s $2.5 billion bond program, which has initiated the construction of necessary mitigation measures against severe weather events. The funding includes $1.2 billion to improve channel conveyance, $400 million to build stormwater detention basins, $242 million to acquire land in the floodplain, among other priorities. In fact, not only have these funds been used as a match for federal Army Corps mitigation projects, but they have also been used successfully to stabilize the Spring Branch Creek in the Buffalo Bayou watershed.  In a show of force at every level of government, one mega project, the Coastal Barrier – or Ike Dike – is on the verge of being authorized by Congress. The Partnership is advocating alongside federal, state, and local elected officials for this massive preventative infrastructure project, which will help mitigate crippling flooding from catastrophic storm surges and save tens of billions of dollars in disaster recovery funding by protecting vulnerable communities. The barrier will also safeguard the Houston Ship Channel, which is an economic engine helping to, quite literally, power the nation through nearly 250 million tons of cargo – more than $800 billion in annual economic activity – over three million jobs and supplying approximately 60 percent of the nation’s jet fuel as well as 30 percent of the nation’s gasoline.  While Southeast Texas – like many coastal communities – does flood, especially following a 100-year storm or severe weather event, the Houston region has collectively worked to expand investment in flood mitigation to prevent these lasting and reoccurring effects from major storm events. Together can we achieve the necessary measures to protect human life and economic vitality from the increasingly present and disabling effects of climate change induced flooding.    Flood mitigation is part of the Partnership's agenda for the 88th Texas Legislative session. 
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Become a Member Today

Interested in joining the Partnership? Take the next step and learn how you can make an impact on Houston.

Get in touch with our team to:

  • Learn more about the Partnership's policy priorities
  • Get involved in a policy committee and meet industry peers 
  • Help shape the Partnership's policy initiatives
Taylor Landin
Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer
Public Policy
E
tlandin@houston.org
P
713-844-3624
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Partnership Staff