Outlook for Houston economy is good

January 8, 2009 5:32:57 PM PST
The group that tries to create economic prosperity in Houston is getting a new chairman. Daniel G. Bellow is heading up the Greater Houston Partnership and already he is speaking about how to deal with the country's financial crisis and how it's affecting the city.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The first sign that the Houston area was starting to see signs of the economic downturn was when the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston laid off 3,000 employees after Hurricane Ike hit. Then just this week, aluminum maker Alcoa, which has ties to Houston, announced plans to cut more than 13,000 jobs. When you add that to the recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of chemical giant Lyondell Basell, which has nine facilities here in Houston, the outlook doesn't look good.

Even though things seem bleak and there are projections of the Houston area losing 45,000 jobs, Bellow said that the economy will eventually get better.

"We'll stay on the offensive during the recession because we're well-capitalized to do so. The best time to market your product is when nobody else can," said Bellow at the GRB Convention Center on Thursday.

He also said the partnership plans to bring new jobs to the area, something that can be accomplished because Houston is expected to fare better during the economic downturn than most other U.S. cities.

"I believe other chambers around the country are going to have difficulty raising money and doing economic development as aggressively as they have during the good times, but we are prepared," said Bellow.

The partnership has about $32 million they plan to use to market Houston and to bring new jobs and new companies to the area. They have already identified several industries that they know are looking to relocate or to build in new places.

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