BMW opens new vehicle distribution center at the Port of Galveston 

The BMW Group opened its new vehicle distribution center at the Port of Galveston on April 20, about a year after first breaking ground.

The new 44,000-square-foot facility at 1028 Harborside Drive was developed to better serve the New Jersey-based company's 45 BMW and Mini dealers in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. The company expects to import and process approximately 32,500 vehicles annually at the new facility.

The new development sits on approximately 20 acres and spans two buildings where vehicle inspection, accessory installation, vehicle programming, and vehicle maintenance and storage are performed.

Why Galveston? BMW's Southern Region is growing faster than any other region in the U.S.," Stephan Reiff, vice president of aftersales for BMW of North America, said in a statement. "Building this facility allows us to continue to deliver the highest quality vehicles while providing faster delivery times to our customers."

WWL Vehicle Services Americas, a global provider of auto processing and outbound vehicle logistic services, owns and operates the facility under BMW Group on-site management. Approximately 40 BMW Group and WWL Vehicle Services employees will work at the facility.

 Michael Mierzwa, port director for the Port of Galveston, previously said in a statement that the new facility will help the port continue to be an economic engine.

 "With this new vehicle processing center, we are confident that the activity level of the port will continue to increase, including the creation of new livable wage jobs. We are pleased that our successful efforts to maintain existing world-class tenants and to attract additional ones continues," Mierzwa said in the statement.

Source: Houston Business Journal

Posted by Saskia Pardaans April 01, 2016 Categories: Economy

Dutch artists, creatives head for SXSW 2016 

More than 45 Dutch artists, creatives, and companies will participate in the music, film, and interactive programs of South by Southwest (SXSW) March 11-20. Innovation in art, technology, and music thrives in the Netherlands. Dutch creatives in the fields of virtual reality, gaming, music, film, design, and transmedia storytelling will take the stage in Austin, Texas, where SXSW presents the ideal platform for the Dutch to celebrate their centuries of start-up culture while in the heart of the American southwest.

Consistent contributions to innovation by the Dutch make the Netherlands a hotbed of entrepreneurship and innovation. Dutch artists including Simon Heijdens and Nick Verstand, and musicians Sevdaliza, zZz, and Amber Arcades will join companies VRmaster, OWOW, IDFA Doclab, and Submarine Channel, to name a few, to present the latest innovation from the Netherlands.

“Dutch innovation is world renowned, and will be on full display in Austin,” said Henne Schuwer, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United States. “The Netherlands believes in supporting invention, collaboration, risk, art, and science. There is no better place in the world to show our contributions to the fields of gaming, music, interactive storytelling, virtual reality, design, film and technology than at South by Southwest.”

The Dutch presence at SXSW will delve into the world of virtual reality (VR) and explore how VR can help people deal with the loss of a loved one. “Fragments of Him” by Sassybot Studio uses interactive storytelling to illustrate ways people can cope with bereavement.  Dutch creatives will also look at how the use of scent can enhance storytelling. Designer Marcel van Brakel will lead a workshop on this, and media developer Frederik Duerinck will take part in a panel session about the theme of scent.

SXSW also presents Dutch innovation in gaming and VR with games for dealing with fear and depression. The meditative VR game “Deep,” developed by Owen Harris in association with Niki Smit (Monobanda), counteracts stress, angst, and mild depression. “The Shoebox Diorama” by interactive illustrator Daniel Ernst unleashes the user in a labyrinth of interactive VR games and stories. While experimental interactive stories, such as “EXIT” by the Dutch-American duo Jongsma and O’Neill, will let attendees experience an alternative to fatalistic thinking about the end of time. IDFA DocLab, which is also part of the Dutch SXSW selection, will offer a cross-sectional sample of these VR developments with a showcase of projects.

Highlights of the Dutch at SXSW:

March 11-20: The Dutch innovation of Simon Heijdens will give visitors the chance to get away from it all with his “Silent Room” installation. The “Silent Room” will let festival goers step into pure silence in a fully soundproof chamber in the heart of SXSW. In this unmediated space, each person will experience absolute and complete silence. This installation of “Silent Room,” commissioned by SXSW, will serve as the project’s world debut.

March 11-15: ANIMA interactive art installation by Nick Verstand. ANIMA is a three-dimensional sphere that investigates communication between humans and an artificial intelligence. ANIMA interprets the visitor’s body movements and responds in kind with an array of audiovisual expressions. ANIMA is part of Art at SXSW, a platform for artists to gain international exposure and connect with leaders in the fields of music, film, and technology.

March 12, 14, and 17: US premiere of the film, “Bodkin Ras” by Kaweh Modiri. Filmed in Scotland, “Bodkin Ras” is a hybrid of documentary and fiction blended together to tell the story of one man’s search for home.

March 13-16: Dutch Trade Show in booths 1309 and 1311 at the Austin Convention Center will showcase the reasons why Holland is Europe’s launching pad for start-ups. The Amsterdam booth at SXSW will be a meeting place for Dutch companies and international start-ups. Launch Pad sessions will allow start-ups the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with Dutch start-ups. Entrepreneurs can also learn how to acquire a “start-up visa” that will give them the opportunity to apply for a temporary residence permit in the Netherlands to launch an innovative business.

March 14: The Royal Netherlands Embassy hosts a reception at Brush Square Park from 2-4 p.m. celebrating Dutch creative culture at the festival. Representatives from the various Dutch creative industries including artist Simon Heijdens, and film director Kaweh Modiri will attend.

March 16: The Dutch Impact Party features a standout group of musicians including Amber Arcades, Sevdaliza, zZz, PAUW and Eerie Wanda. The Dutch Impact Party is part of the 2nd annual FLOODfest at SXSW, organized by FLOOD magazine and Dutch Impact. Additionally, Dutch musicians Janne Schra, traumahelikopter, Azure Hiptronics and Sofie Winterson will perform at various venues throughout the festival.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans March 06, 2016 Categories: Austin

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 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
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