If a storm hits Houston...... 

protection is less costly than recovery

In 2008, Hurricane Ike slammed the Houston-Galveston region, making landfall on the Texas coast with maximum sustained winds of 112 miles per hour and  storm surge of 12-15 feet. Even though the Houston-Galveston region avoided the predicted direct hit, Hurricane Ike killed 80 people and caused economic damages totaling over $39 billion. Imagine the consequences if Ike had made a direct hit.

The clock continues to tick. Major hurricanes hit the upper Texas coast approximately every 14 years. History and science concur that such a “direct hit” threat to the region is not a matter of if, but when, it will occur.

This is not just a Houston-Galveston problem. The nation’s security and economy are extremely vulnerable during a storm surge event. At risk are the livelihoods and well-being of millions of residents, their properties, jobs and businesses. Devastating impacts include:

  • Disrupting transportation, including the interstate system, railroads and waterborne commerce
  • Closing ports, including the Port of Houston, the nation’s busiest port in foreign tonnage
  • Shutting down the nation’s largest petrochemical complex, which supplies 27 percent of America’s gasoline and 60 percent of the fuel used by the U.S. Department of Defense, causing fuel shortages and price increases on goods that use petrochemicals, including pharmaceuticals, plastic resins, detergents, cosmetics, and other synthetics
  • Irreparable environmental damage

Multiple lines of defense are being considered to provide comprehensive storm surge protection for the region. Texas A&M University at Galveston remains focused on further developing the proven method to stop the surge at the coast using a continuous coastal barrier or spine, also known as the Ike Dike Concept, based on proven technologies that have been used in The Netherlands and other parts of the world for decades. Meanwhile, the SSPEED Center at Rice University is concentrating its efforts on suppressing surge using barriers internal to the Galveston Bay system and non-structural alternatives.

Through coordinated and collaborative research efforts, both TAMUG and the SSPEED Center are committed to the development of a single surge protection plan that has multiple lines of defense to achieve the best overall solution for the region from an economic, environmental and social perspective.

For the past four years, regional momentum has been building to implement storm surge protection, recognizing that the region is every bit as exposed today to the devastating effects of storm surge as it was in 2008. More than 30 cities and municipalities, economic and industry organizations, such as the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, the East Harris County Manufacturers Association and the Harris County Mayors’ and Councils’ Association, have formally stated their support for storm surge protection.

It’s imperative that a collaborative plan for regional protection be developed and submitted for congressional approval and funding. First, however, a comprehensive initiative is underway to conduct several necessary studies, including an economic impact analysis; barrier design modeling; landscape integration; a calculation of cost/benefit ratios; and environmental mitigation

Texas has always prided itself on being a “can do” state, never being the kind to look for a handout. Although this is usually looked on as an admirable quality, in the case of storm surge protection, I think that it has been a detriment to our progress. Perhaps a greater deterrent has been the lack of political leadership up until now.

It is crucial that the Legislature supports a coastal barrier system, and it’s going to take strong political leadership to spearhead such a bill through the next legislative session in 2017. The people, homes and industries of the upper Texas coast, as well as the state's and nation's economy, must be protected. We cannot expect Congress to appropriate the necessary funds unless we stand united in this cause.

We can wait until our hopes and dreams, and possibly our lives, are swept out to sea when the next big hurricane hits, or we can do something now. Unfortunately, we too often are committed to recovery rather than protection. Meanwhile, the clock continues to tick.

Bob Mitchell

President, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

Posted by Saskia Pardaans March 04, 2016 Categories: Economy Water

BNR Nieuwsradio  

In alle staten


BNR Nieuwsradio grijpt de Amerikaanse verkiezingsstrijd aan om het ondernemersklimaat in alle 50 staten te onderzoeken. Iedere week lichten ze een andere staat uit. Per staat kunt u luisteren naar de radio uitzending, vindt u een korte samenvatting en leest u verhalen van Nederlandse ondernemers, tips & tricks van locals en een speciale column van Bernard Hammelburg.

Op 1 maart stond de staat Texas centraal. Derk de Vos heeft Joris de Vos van Van Leeuwen Pipe & Tube LLC en Saskia Pardaans, Chief Representative van the Netherlands Business Support Office geïnterviewd.

Heeft u de uitzending gemist, dan kunt u alsnog luisteren naar het  gehele interview en u kunt het verslag lezen van de uitzending

Wordt u ook zo enthousiast over Texas, neem dan contact ons op!


March 03, 2016

New Year's reception 

On the 27th of January the NBSO organized a New Year's reception together with the Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Rotterdam. Highlight of the evening was the key-note by Allard Castelein, CEO and President of the Port of Rotterdam. Allard addressed the audience with an insightful speech about the Port of Rotterdam, recent developments and changes in the market, opportunities and challenges and the way ahead.

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest seaport in Europe and together with Singapore and Houston serves as one of the 3 key petrochemical hubs in the world. Allard further highlighted the similarities between  the ports of Rotterdam and Houston. In that respect we were delighted to have Commissioners Branch and Kennedy of the Port Authority of Houston as our guests.

With more than 120 guests present from a broad variety of backgrounds, the year 2016 started very well.

Guests had a good time catching up with old friends and making new ones, while enjoying a drink and  some tasteful appetizers at the beautiful Houston Club.

This New Year’s reception was the first cooperation between the NBSO and the Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans January 27, 2016

Port XL- World port accelerator 

PortXL- World port accelerator showed us its mentorship driven innovation program to accelerate startups from all over the world, focusing on port related industries.

Their experienced team works with a proven formula, based on over seven years of experience of the highly acclaimed global accelerator network. An intensive 100-day mentorship-driven program accelerates ten exclusively selected start-ups.

PortXL also offers an ecosystem of founders, investors and corporate partners that supports and accelerates the entrepreneurial journey.

During Shakedown the teams will pitch their business ideas to an audience of launching customers, business angels, venture capitalists, multinationals, journalists, sponsors and others that will help launch your start-up to greatness.

Are you a team with scalable business propositions, ready for the market within 12 months and able to disrupt the sector? Look at www.portxl.org. It’s really innovative!

Posted by Saskia Pardaans January 26, 2016

Port of Houston Surpasses 2 Million TEU Mark in 2015 

The Port of Houston has for the first time ever handled more than 2 million TEU in 2015, the Port of Houston Authority announced Thursday.The new record beats the previous yearly record of 1.96 million TEU set in 2014.

“We are so pleased to witness this significant milestone in the port’s history as we continue to strive to advance the Port of Houston and solidify its position as America’s distribution hub today and for generations to come,” Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria said.

Executive Director Roger Guenther said, “Having the two millionth TEU crossing our docks today illustrates the steadfast guidance of the Port Authority’s leadership through the Port Commission and diligence of our staff to deliver exemplary service to our customers and validates that the port is ready for the increased cargo…and bigger things to come.”

The Port of Houston Authority says projections indicate continued strong growth in containers moving across Port Authority docks in coming years.

To help facilitate this growth, the Port of Houston Authority is investing about $700 million the next decade modernizing the Barbours Cut Container Terminal to increase efficiency, facilitate larger vessels and double the container handling capacity. Among other improvements, four new Super Post-Panamax ship-to-shore wharf cranes that were delivered this year are now in operation.

At the newer Bayport terminal, a state-of-the-art truck entry gate has streamlined truck processing, and a user-friendly mobile app for truck drivers has increased efficiency. Recently, the Port Authority processed a record 4,300 trucks in one day at Bayport, which opened in 2007 and is being built out according to its master plan. The terminal continues to show excellent service levels and low truck turn times.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans December 17, 2015 Categories: Economy

The largest medical centre of the world is the Texas Medical Center in Houston 

106.000 employees, 7.2 million anual visitors at 1345 hectare.

Texas Medical Center


Forbes: If random Americans were surveyed about what they thought was the nation’s–and world’s–largest medical center, they might have predictable answers. Among the guesses would be the Cleveland Clinic or the Mayo Clinic, or something out of America’s most culturally-notable cities, like New York-Presbyterian Hospital. But they would be wrong. The answer lies in a lesser-known center that sits within a city of underrated economic importance: the Texas Medical Center.

This facility–really a city within a city–sits about 3 miles south of downtown Houston, carving out its own skyline. TMC is the world’s largest life sciences destination, with 44 member institutions, 106,000 employees, and 7.2 million annual visitors, on a 1,345-acre campus.

TMC was founded in 1945, through a combination of private donations, namely from banker M.D. Anderson, and after the city designated 134 acres for a campus. The mission of the institution, which is run by the Texas Medical Center Corporation, was to cluster non-profit health facilities on behalf of advancing medical knowledge and care. It has stayed true to this, by leasing land to various institutions for 99 years at $1 annually. For these institutions, it acts as an umbrella organization, providing infrastructure and organizational support, but otherwise letting them function autonomously.

Included among the center’s facilities are hospitals, research and academic institutions, nursing programs, pharmacy schools, and a dental school. Some of the major ones include the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas Children’s Hospital. Several major Texas universities have medical apparatuses within TMC, including UT, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Rice. The facilities sit densely together on a campus that includes privately-run streets, transit, and parking, and that mixes uses, giving it the feel of a big city downtown. The parking garages generate a large chunk of the revenue, with much of the rest coming from private philanthropy, including large donations by Ross Perot, T. Boone Pickens, and Clear Channel co-founder Lowry Mays. The corporation’s CEO is Robert Robbins, and the executive VP is Bill McKeon.

Recently, I sat down with McKeon, who was particularly interested in showing me TMC’s new ”Innovation Institute: Startup Accelerator.” On the eastern edge of campus, this facility provides space for private medical-based start-up companies to nurture their product, obtain financing, and look for markets to sell in. The Institute has an intense vetting process, but once it accepts a company, they get free office space without having to relinquish equity in return.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans December 17, 2015 Categories: Health

Why locate to TEXAS? 

Texas combines its wide horizons and accommodating climate, its diverse population and healthy markets and a stubborn pursuit to create an excellent environment for business.

The State of Texas has worked hard to develop and sustain a business-friendly operating environment. State and local government provides tax incentives, financing assistance and an array of services to help companies establish or expand in Texas.

You have a lot to consider as you prepare to relocate or expand to Texas

Read More


September 03, 2015 Categories: Texas

Texas strong: Economy remains resilient as oil prices fall 


Oil prices can't mess with Texas.

Some economists warned last year that Texas could slide into a recession in 2015 as oil prices tanked.

Last week, prices hit a 6-year low to $42, down from $100 a barrel a year ago.

But Texas added jobs in five of the first six months this year. The state's 4.2% unemployment rate has actually ticked down a little this year, and it's well below the nation's 5.3% rate, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

The dramatic decline in oil prices would have spelled trouble for the Lone Star State, 30 years ago. But this time, it's weathered the storm quite well.

Sure, energy companies in Texas have cut jobs as their profits are shrinking.

Read Full Article

August 26, 2015 Categories: Texas

The Texas 'economic miracle' is far from finished 


Freedom is the intangible but very real promise of Texas that encourages businesses to grow in the Lone Star State.

It's no surprise Texas is again ranked the best state for business—for the 11th year in a row—according to Chief Executive's survey of the nation's top CEOs.

Businesses succeed in Texas because we've built a framework that allows free enterprise to flourish. Less government, lower taxes, smarter regulations and right-to-work laws—these are the pro-growth economic policies attracting employers to Texas from states that overtax and over-regulate.

That framework also means innovation thrives here. More Texas entrepreneurs are willing to risk their hard-earned capital in new businesses and new jobs.

But a framework is only as solid as the foundation on which it is built. Here in Texas, ours is built on bedrock: Our greatest natural resource is the people of Texas.

Hardworking Texans have forged a strong and diversified economy, growing more jobs in Texas last year than any year in the history of our state.

Read the whole article here…

June 25, 2015 Categories: Economy

Austin verslaat Silicon Valley 


Austin verslaat San Jose en San Francisco uit Silicon Valley als de Amerikaanse stad met de meeste start ups in 2015. De Kauffman Index heeft deze gegevens vorige week bekend gemaakt.

Austin, de thuisbasis van South by Southwest (SXSW) waar ieder jaar in maart duizenden ondernemers en vernieuwers bijeenkomen, krijgt er iedere maand bijna 4.900 nieuwe ondernemers bij. Ongeveer 80% van de mensen stoppen met hun baan, om een eigen bedrijf op te starten. Het komt dus niet voort uit werkloosheid. En dat is altijd een goed teken.

Vorig jaar stond San Jose nog bovenaan de ranglijst, gevolgd door Austin en Miami.

De Kauffman Index geeft een beeld van de start ups in Amerikaanse steden en staten.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans June 18, 2015 Categories: Austin
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