May the Workforce Be With You

How the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region is Working Now to Help Ensure Today’s Students Meet Tomorrow’s Workforce Needs

Right to left: Chad Burke, Senator Dan Patrick, Senator Larry Taylor, Brenda Hellyer.

Right to left: Chad Burke, Senator Dan Patrick, Senator Larry Taylor, Brenda Hellyer.

Economic growth and job growth are inextricably connected. Even before the rest of the country began to recover, the Houston Port Region had been reporting growth in the form of new companies, company expansion, capital investment, and jobs.

In 2012, the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region (the Alliance) facilitated business activities to create nearly 1,500 new jobs and over $1.5 billion of capital investment to the Houston Port Region. The momentum has continued into 2013 which to date the Alliance reports three wins accounting for $755 million in investment and over 100 new jobs.

The estimated capital investment in Texas is $70 billion between 2012 and 2015 with projected capital investment in the Houston Port Region alone estimated at $35 billion.  The next 3-5 years will see an added 111,700 jobs in construction alone, not to mention the concurrent expansion in the maritime, petrochemical, and logistic jobs market.

July Workforce Development Committee Meeting.

July Workforce Development Committee Meeting.

This welcome growth is exacerbating the existing shortage of skilled labor already prevalent in our region.  Many area stakeholders recognized the need for positive action to ensure those who live in this community would be poised to step into these well-paying positions.  The harsh truth is that if companies cannot fill these jobs from within the talent pool of our region, they will be forced to import talent from the outside translating into a huge missed opportunity for East Harris County.

Seeking to avoid duplication of efforts, and to leverage area assets effectively, Chad Burke, President and CEO of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region, saw the need to pull disparate stakeholders together in a coordinated effort.  Thus, the Workforce Development Committee was born with Dr. Allatia Harris of San Jacinto Community College and Niels Lyngso of West Gulf Maritime Association as co-chairs.

The Committee objectives are threefold: 

  1. Regional coordination of all programs and stakeholders
  2. Creating a marketing program for students, teachers, counselors and parents to expose career paths, jobs and opportunities to all, beginning at the junior high level
  3. Inventory of jobs/careers available and qualifications and requirements for employability

The committee includes representatives from: 

  • San Jacinto & Lee Community Colleges
  • Nine regional school districts
  • Construction & Maintenance Education Foundation
  • Chemical & refining manufacturing industry – East Harris County Manufacturing Association
  • Plant services and construction industry
  • Employment companies
  • Local cities and country representatives
  • Port of Houston
  • West Gulf Maritime Association
  • Other interested regional companies

The committee has already begun to pull together a speakers bureau and develop presentations aimed students, their parents, counselors, and teachers to market the opportunities and lay out career pathways in the maritime, logistics, petrochemical, and civil service arenas.

If you would like to be a part of this effort you are invited to the next Workforce Development Committee meeting to be held on Tuesday, Sept. 17 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Economic Alliance offices 203 Ivy Ave., Ste 200, Deer Park, Texas. Contact Marisela Cantu by emailing [email protected] or call 281-476-9176.

For more information on becoming a member of the Economic Alliance, please visit or call 281-476-9176.

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