In an effort to continue promoting the 10-county Houston region’s economic development, the Greater Houston Partnership announced Dec. 5 the overall goals of Opportunity Houston, a marketing program that plans to generate 600,000 regional jobs, attract $60 billion in new capital investment and increase foreign trade by $120 billion by 2015, according to Bob Harvey, GHP president and CEO. The new initiative—Opportunity Houston 2.0—is slated to begin in 2014.
“I'm happy to report this morning that Opportunity Houston has simply been a resounding success,” Harvey said. “We have assisted the Houston region in creating more than 374,000 jobs since 2005 with an annual economic impact of $18.9 billion per year. We have assisted 163 companies with relocation or expansion activities since the program began. At the current rate of growth, we will reach our 2015 target despite the dip in the economy in 2008 and 2009.”
Opportunity Houston 2.0 is poised to create an additional 450,000 and raise new capital investment by $45 billion from 2014–2020, according to GHP.
In 2005, GHP laid out a strategy to chart economic development in Houston over the next decade. Through this initiative, Opportunity Houston was established to help the city attract and retain new businesses, enhancing workforce development and to improve the image of Houston to bring essential talent to the region, Harvey said.
“We have a straightforward mission at the partnership, and that is to enhance regional economic prosperity,” Harvey said. “That means attracting high paying jobs, investment in trade to the region, and taking steps to protect our core assets here in Houston—the industry clusters that drive the Houston community—and it means improving the quality of life to nearly six million residents.”
While organic growth led to many of the 374,000 new jobs created, GHP can pinpoint at least 143,000 that were created through various partnership initiatives, said Craig Richard, GHP vice president. The partnership is on track to exceed its goals for new capital investment by $3 billion and trade by $30 billion by 2013.
The initial $32 million raised under the first Opportunity Houston program is scheduled to last through 2013, according to Drayton McLane, chair of Opportunity Houston. GHP aims to raise $40 million for Opportunity Houston 2.0, which will provide funding from 2014–2020 in order to help create 450,000 new jobs, bring $45 billion in new capital investment, and focus on enhancing Houston's image and attract more highly trained jobs, he said.
So far, GHP has raised $12.7 million toward its goal, with the largest donation made by Chevron in the amount of $2 million over six years.
“We are proud to support the Opportunity Houston 2.0 program,” said Ed Spaulding, government and public affairs manager for Chevron. “We were one of the initial investors in the [original] opportunity Houston several years ago, and we are very encouraged by the [program's] performance.”