By GILBERT HOFFMAN Northeast News
NORTH HOUSTON– The Houston Intercontinental Chamber held a powerful and fact-filled Economic Forum last Thursday, at the Airport Marriott Hotel. A large group of businessmen, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and chamber members listened to two seminar speakers, and two keynoters discuss the current and future state of the economy in the nation, Texas and the North Houston areas.
The seminars started in the morning with an emphasis on international trade opportunities. Mr. Alejandro De Valle, president and CEO of the Hispanic Business Center, which now offices in the Greenspoint district, presented facts and potentials for trade with and business opportunties with Mexico and Latin America.
Although he stressed the large market and robust manufacturing capabilities in Mexico and Latin America, he also cautioned about security risks and business customs that must be recognized and dealt with properly. He recommended that U.S. businesses should partner with Hispanic agencies that can help negotiate local conditions.
Mr. Juan Carlos Yu, president of the U.S. Chinese Chamber, presented a picture of the Chinese market, and noted differences in business practices and cultural customs in Asia compared with the United States. However, he noted the growing number of Chinese residents and businesses in the North Houston area, a sign of the strength and interest of Chinese with their American counterparts. He thought their was a great potential for both entities to prosper from a proper business relationship.
The Economic Forum continued through the lunch hour, with keynote presentations by Robert Wood, Director of Economic Development and Analysis for the Texas Comptroller’s office, and Ronald Green, Controller for the City of Houston.
Mr. Wood noted signs of an economic upturn in Texas, and to some degree in the nation.
These signs include business inventories increasing, and employment numbers up also.
Texas economy is better than the rest of the nation, he said, for many reasons including a favorable weather climate, a developed port and airport, a strong oil and gas business, and diversification.
Signs of the strong Texas economy include lower unemployment and sales tax collections up 9.5% from last year. He suggested the website www.thetexaseconomy.org for details.
City Controller Ronald Green had facts on the efforts to restrain expenditures due to reduced city revenues. However, he also saw a strong economy with most indicators up, forecasting future growth and prosperity in the local markets.
Questions from the floor included Jack Drake asking about alternative tax systems for Texas, and Bill Ginder questioning the city fees and regulatory restrictions on business growth.