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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Houstonians will have the opportunity to submit their vote on several initiatives and local elected positions on the ballot this November, including for City Controller, who will serve as the city's chief financial officer. Join us to hear from City Controller candidates Chris Hollins and Dave Martin. Paul Cobler will also share highlights from Houston Landing's voter guide before facilitating the candidate panel. Future of Texas is for government relations and public affairs professionals, and concerned citizens. The series features elected officials and thought leaders shaping our state's future, allowing all Partnership members the opportunity to engage with these leaders and hear their perspectives on our city's and state's most pressing issues.