HOUSTON LEADERS EXPLORE WAYS TO ENSURE CITY’S ENERGY FUTURE
Houston’s energy and community leaders met at a forum Tuesday to discuss strategies to retain the city’s competitive edge in the industry. More than 400 people attended the event, “Keeping Houston the Energy Capital of the World,” which was sponsored by Houston Technology Center (HTC) and the University of Houston – Global Energy Management Institute (UH-GEMI).
The half-day event, held at the University of Houston, featured a dozen speakers from the energy and business communities who addressed the goal of helping Houston maintain and extend its leadership in the industry. The speakers explored ideas ranging from Houston’s improving economy to future technologies.
“Houston has more expertise and power development than anywhere else in the world and that’s an asset,” said Houston Mayor Bill White during his keynote speech. “ Any city that has a competitive advantage has to constantly guard that from others who want to duplicate that advantage.”
White outlined a three-step approach to protecting Houston’s energy future: attract business with jobs for the future; improve education at all levels; and capitalize on growth in the global energy business.
“The source of any advantage a city has comes from the brain power, the people who enhance that competitive advantage,” White said. “We have to start thinking about what to do to retain and attract people who do what they do better than anyone else.”
James Calaway, CEO of The Center for Houston’s Future, emphasized the importance of nanotechnology in the development of new and renewable energy solutions. The city’s leaders must assist efforts to increase nanotechnology research in Houston and help to attract federal funding and venture capital for start-up companies here.
“We must assume that our energy future may evolve in ways that are not traditional,” Calaway said. The Center for Houston’s Future brings business and community together to innovate for the future of the region.
Houston’s business and political leaders can work together to ensure the city’s continued growth in the energy industry, said Rob Mosbacher, Jr., Chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP). The GHP can play a pivotal role in that process because of its leadership among the business community.
“Beyond developing strategies to retain energy companies, we need to improve the overall quality of life issues such as traffic, air quality, education, health care and parks and amenities,” he said.
Local leaders should place a high priority on preserving and growing Houston’s leadership in the energy industry, said Paul Frison, HTC President and CEO. “Many business and civic leaders in Houston believe the city must be diligently proactive in retaining its title of ‘Energy Capital’ through planning for the future and exploring technical advances.”
An industry panel included discussion of why Houston is home to their companies and what it means to have premiere talent in one location. Speakers included Wade Adams, Director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology; Jamil F. Al-Dandany, Director of Public Affairs for Aramco Services Company; C. Susan Howes, Vice-Chair and Chair-Elect of the Gulf Coast Section SPE; Terry Lucht, Manager of Drilling and Engineering Operations ConocoPhillips; and Bruce Williamson, Chairman and CEO of Dynegy.
A community panel shared why energy is a vital component to the city’s overall health. Speakers included James T. Edmonds, Houston Port Authority Chairman; Walter Johnson, CEO of Southwest Bank of Texas; Gasper Mir, Executive Advisor to the HISD Superintendent; Rob Mosbacher, Jr., Greater Houston Partnership Chairman; and Lane Sloan, Executive Director UH-GEMI.
Additional speakers included Timothy Hopper, Sr. Economist Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and James D. Calaway, CEO of The Center for Houston’s Future.
About Houston Technology Center
Houston Technology Center (HTC) is a business accelerator that incubates Houston-based emerging technology companies within several key sectors: Energy, Information Technology, Life Sciences, Nanotechnology and NASA technologies (www.houstontech.org)
UH-GEMI uses a multidisciplinary approach to address the comprehensive needs of the energy industry, thereby better preparing the energy industry workers of today while exploring the issues important to its future. See www.bauer.uh.edu/gemi for more information.