Bauer Alumni Breakfast Series Kicks off With
Greater Houston Partnership Chair Larry Kellner
Partnerships among the city’s business community, higher education and local non-profit groups are integral to growing the Houston economy, Greater Houston Partnership chairman Larry Kellner told Bauer alumni during the first monthly networking breakfast of the semester.
Kellner, who headed Continental Airlines for five years and is now president of private equity firm Emerald Creek Group, was the featured speaker of the Sept. 15 Bauer College Alumni Association breakfast held at the Houston City Club and presented by James E. Bashaw & Co.
“Don’t ever think the business community isn’t interrelated with the organizations that make the community work – whether that’s the Greater Houston Partnership, the University of Houston, Methodist Houston, the Spring Branch school district, HISD – it all ties together,” Kellner said.
Non-profit organizations, he added, bring to the table something that can’t be monetized.
“If we don’t have strong institutions on the non-profit side, we won’t have a strong community,” Kellner said. “It is so much more efficient than contracting out and professionalizing everything. There is a passion and a care — whether it is your school or whether it is young kids.”
The Greater Houston Partnership facilitates relocations and expansions in the Houston area, international outreach initiatives and strategic planning, serving the 10-county Houston region that encompasses Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto and Waller counties.
“The goal of the Greater Houston Partnership is to create prosperity for the Houston region through its quality of life and its economic development,” Kellner said.
“This is not a top down organization; this is an organization that allows people to organize around their interests – whether it is clean air, energy, business issues, education – they can sit on committees and subcommittees and come up with policy recommendations.”
And the foundation of all improvement begins with what the GHP calls “Houston’s Five Crown Jewels.”
“What makes Houston different? What makes Houston unique?” Keller asked. “We have the Texas Medical Center, NASA, the Houston university system, the Port of Houston, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. How do we help those institutions make a difference?”
The partnership gives the greater Houston area, which represents about 30 percent of the state, a voice in the legislature at the local, state, and federal level, Kellner said. Bringing together non-profit institutions and the business community has the potential to ignite progress in the city, he added.
“The Greater Houston Partnership is the business voice in the community,” Kellner said. “It’s a way to pull the business leaders together and really have an impact on policy, direction, and economic development.”
After highlighting the main objectives of the GHP, from supporting a strong infrastructure to federal issues such as the country’s immigration policies, Kellner reminded the audience of the misconception that the public has of the business community.
“The business community too often gets labeled as focused on its own results its own earnings its own current quarter,” Kellner said. “We need to make sure we are building a strong community. We won’t have strong businesses without a strong community and it really is all interrelated.”
Held monthly in the fall and spring, the Bauer College Alumni Association breakfast events are excellent networking opportunities that regularly attract strong attendance, with top leaders as speakers.
On Oct. 20, BCAA will host Chancellor of the University of Houston System and President of the University of Houston Renu Khator. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
By Ryan Tang