The full representation of the Dutch economic network in Texas, the Honorary Consuls, the Netherlands Business Support Office (NBSO) and the Netherlands American Chamber of
Commerce - Texas Chapter (NACCTX), hosted their New Year’s Reception, on the 17th of January 2017, at The Houston Club. We are happy that both familiar and new faces joined us in celebrating the start of a new promising year.
Opening remarks were made by Nadia Sant, President of the NACCTX, who welcomed all the attendees and introduced the NACCTX to the crowd- and Saskia Pardaans, Chief Representative of the NBSO-Texas.
Saskia elaborated on the services of the NBSO and the goals for 2017. The special overall focus of the NBSO for 2017 is ‘Connecting the Dutch’. The goal of the NBSO is to help Dutch entrepreneurs to do business in Texas. This year the office is organizing two trade missions, the first one will be a trade mission on the logistics of plastic resins in late March and the second one will be a study tour from the Netherlands to Texas in the medical field in the late Summer.
To further connect the Dutch the NBSO developed a new concept called ‘the Trading post’ to bring together questions and answers of entrepreneurs. You can find this trading post on our website.
Moreover, as off February the NBSO will organize a quarterly meeting, hosted by a Dutch company, called ‘Connecting the Dutch’. During this quarterly meeting, an auction will take place in which everyone can ask questions in the field of entrepreneurship to the other participants and others can offer their services, knowledge and connections.
After a brief description of all the 2017 goals for the NBSO, Saskia introduced the two guest speakers of the evening, the two honorary consuls in Texas. The first speaker is Jos Wellink, honorary consul for the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas for more than 3 years already. Jos lives in Houston and deals mainly with consular affairs. Like the NBSO, Jos is also a point of contact for companies who are looking for business opportunities in Texas.
After Jos Wellink took the stage, he opened up about the challenges people are facing in renewing their Schengen visas. He stressed the importance of being on top off all your administrative duties when it comes to official paperwork like renewing your passport. Next to his consular role, he also made an outline of Houston’s economy. Times are challenging for a big number of companies, but the new year is full of interesting opportunities. The Texas economy remains strong and Texas popularity as a home state is on the rise.
Our second honorary consul is Mabrie Jackson. She has been the honorary consul in Dallas-Forth Worth since June 2016. Mabrie plays an important role in the exploitation of the Dallas-Forth Worth area for Dutch entrepreneurs.
As the key-note speaker of the night, Marie’s speech was in her role as Director Public Affairs of the H-E-B/ Central Market. The theme of her speech ‘How community involvement leads to business success’, was inspired by the time of New Year’s resolutions. First she described the history of H-E-B, how a lady named Florence Butt opened the first grocery story in Kerrville TX to supplement her family while her pharmacist husband suffered from tuberculosis. H-E-B is now a $23b company with 380 stores in Texas and Northern Mexico, with over 93,000 employees. Mabrie stressed that one thing has never changed in this long history; the commitment to our communities and the people who live in them. Today, H-E-B has mandated in their own corporate governance to donate a minimum of 5% of pre-tax earnings to charitable organizations and schools. H-E-B focuses primarily on:
Hunger Prevention—last year over 30m pounds of food was donated to food banks in Texas and Mexico. More than 250,000 people receive a free meal during the annual Feast of Sharing events during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Education—in addition to local community giving, H-E-B has given more than $8.5m to teachers, principals, school districts and school boards to recognize efforts that go above and beyond the call of service to educate our next generation of leaders. This Excellence in Education program is largest monetary recognition program in Texas—and maybe in the US.
Military—in the past several years H-E-B- has built and furnished 12 homes for soldiers who have come back home with life altering disabilities.
In addition to her notes on community involvement, she commented on the North Texas economy and the endless business opportunities, also for Dutch companies. Some of the top highlights are:
· 1 person moves to North Texas every 4 minutes
· If North Texas was a state, it would be 9th in GDP between NJ and NC; if it were a country, it would be 23rd in GDP between Taiwan and Nigeria
· 43% of Texas’ high tech jobs are in North Texas/3,000 high tech firms in the region
· 30,000 jobs are coming to the intersection of Dallas North Tollway and Hwy 121 (Plano/Frisco) over the next 4 years. There are over $7B in development projects in this 2 mile stretch of road
Our special guests for the night, Chantal and Tako from the Stroopclub in Austin donated freshly made stroopwafels for the guests.
We are honored to have met you at our event. Also for those of you who were not able to attend our event, we wish a successful and prosperous New Year. We hope and want to be of service to you again in 2017!
The pictures of the event can be viewed by using this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nbso-texas/albums/72157675672535373
On behalf of the NACCTX,