Vote “YES” Prop 8

Proposition 8 on this year’s general election ballot authorizes the creation of the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF). With only one dissenting vote, the 86th legislature passed Senate Bill 7, authored by Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and sponsored by Representative Dade Phelan (R- Beaumont), a comprehensive bill putting the State of Texas permanently into the game of funding flood resiliency. This bold step by the legislature appropriated $2 billion dollars for a variety of flood related measures. $793 million of that appropriation will be directed to the Texas Water Development Board (TWBD) to fund future flood infrastructure projects statewide. The Houston area stands to gain over $200 million of this funding which will help supplement the $2.5 billion Harris County voters

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Management Districts FAQ

Several months ago, I wrote an article about the efforts afoot to once again address the community concerns around the condition of Cypress Creek Parkway. The article generated a fair amount of response, all of it positive. The article also generated additional inquiry about the nature of management districts, a potential solution to these concerns. This article is dedicated to help answer some of the questions about what a management district is and what it does. What is a management district? Paraphrased from Chapter 375 of the Texas statutes, “a municipal management district (MMD), or improvement district are necessary to promote, develop, encourage, and maintain employment, commerce, economic development and the public welfare in commercial areas…of metropolitan areas of the

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Kind vs. Wicked

As we move closer toward formulating strategies for the Chamber, we begin to identify and categorize the opportunities and initiatives the Chamber elects to take on. Going forward, anything the Chamber does must be able to demonstrate one, how it benefits its members, and two, benefits the local economy. Those two qualifiers must be answered before any initiative can advance. If a proposed initiative passes the initial sniff test, then we decide if this initiative is a direct or indirect benefit. A direct benefit is a program, service or project the Chamber undertakes whereby the member receives a direct benefit to his/her business as a result of participating in said activity. An example of this would be attending our Networking Breakfast.

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Third Time is a Charm

From the first day I started working at the Chamber, not a meeting has gone by where someone does not raise the question of “What is being done to fix 1960?” While recently cleaning out the Chamber’s storage closet, we stumbled across old printed Chamber newsletters from the 1980s proclaiming the need to clean up litter, bandit signs, business signage and reduce crime along the FM 1960 corridor. Here we are, some thirty-plus years later, and although we have changed the name of the thoroughfare, planted landscaping down the middle of the street, held countless committee meetings, and volunteered hundreds of hours, we are still having the same conversation today about how to “Fix 1960.” Much has been attempted and

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It’s Unanimous!

A Legislative Update   Like Hurricane Harvey, something unprecedented has occurred in this 86th Texas legislative session, and yet seems to be going completely unnoticed. Two months ago, I wrote about the efforts of the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce and its involvement with the Harris Plus Flood Solutions to move bills through the legislature to fund ongoing Hurricane Harvey recovery and future flood mitigation projects. Well, much has happened since February, and it is all good news. On March 11, Al Haines, Chair of the Flood Mitigation Task Force and I, along with a delegation of other members of Harris Plus Flood Solutions, traveled to Austin to testify in front of the Senate Committee on Water & Rural Affairs.

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The Power of a Brand: One bus stop at a time

Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Ford Motor Company, Budweiser, and the list goes on. Corporations around the globe spend billions of dollars every year building and promoting their brand. The mere mention of their names generates a visual and more importantly an emotional connection to their logo, symbols (i.e. Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses), and their products. If executed properly, collectively all these associations and images create a unique identity, one that sets them apart from their competition. For instance, when I see a photo of a Big Mac on a billboard, I know with 99.9% certainty I am not thinking of the King, and of course the company believes I “deserve a break today” and that I use that break to make a pass

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The Rainmakers

We have repaired our homes, passed a local flood bond, and work has begun to bolster our bayous and gullies, but will it be enough to keep your floor from getting wet the next time it rains? It won’t. So much more needs to be done, and so many more partners and resources need to be brought to bear to protect the bread in the breadbasket of Texas from getting soggy again. The 86th Texas Legislative session is underway, and the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce, through its Public Policy Council, has diligently prepared its legislative agenda in anticipation of this session. Among other legislative priorities, such as public school finance reform, reauthorization of state economic development incentives, and greater

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The Legacy of Compaq

In the mid-1980s, the founders of Compaq made the decision to build a “California-style” campus in the trees along Cypress Creek as their new corporate headquarters for its booming personal computer business. Located on 80 acres, they constructed 15 office buildings, 7 manufacturing facilities, 13 parking garages, a conference center, laboratories, a cafeteria, and more, setting a surprising precedent for locating such a large commercial footprint in the outer suburbs of northwest Houston. In 2002, Compaq merged its business with Hewlett-Packard which has continued to operate its U.S. operations from this location. Both Compaq and Hewlett-Packard have been an economic boon to our area of Northwest Houston, creating thousands of jobs and injecting billions of dollars into the local economy,

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Office Space Disrupted

The business incubator was coming into its own as a legitimate economic development tool when I entered the economic development profession in early 2000. Incubators are bricks-and-mortar facilities offering small office or warehouse space for start-up companies at below market rates. These facilities are often subsidized by a local government, educational institution and/or an economic development agency. However, incubators included more than just affordable commercial space, it came with additional business services, business advising, and mentoring with the intent to ensure a greater chance of success when the startup was stable and profitable enough to move out of the incubator and into the real world. Over the course of the decade, incubators evolved into “accelerators,” which de-emphasized the physical aspect

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Highest & Best Use

The deteriorating condition of businesses and commercial properties along Cypress Creek Parkway (FM1960) is a topic of frequent discussion within the halls of the Chamber of Commerce and around the community. Over the last decade, the Chamber has contracted several studies to assess and suggest remedies to improve this condition. One such study, “Summary of Findings and Strategic Revitalization Options in the FM 1960 Corridor” conducted by Spillette Consulting in 2010 is still very relevant today. This article aligns with many of the observations and recommendations from that study. It goes without saying the condition of Cypress Creek Parkway has been on downward trajectory for several decades. We are witnessing a pattern of business closures with property owners struggling to

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