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GE CHIEF JEFF IMMELT TO JOIN THE REGION’S LEADING EXPERTS FOR PARTNERSHIP ECONOMIC OUTLOOK EVENT


GHP to provide estimated regional employment numbers for 2010

HOUSTON – The Greater Houston Partnership today announced it will present its annual forecast for the region’s economy in 2010 on Monday, December 14, 2009, at the InterContinental Hotel. The Houston Regional Economic Outlook event will be headlined by Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE. The day will kick-off with a panel discussion featuring experts from industry sectors playing a key role in the region’s economic prosperity.

“The Houston region is a gateway to global markets, so the outlook for the global economy plays a major role in regional recovery,” said Jeff Moseley, president and CEO of the GHP. “As the primary advocate for the 10-county Houston region, providing an understanding of the global outlook and arming the business community with information is tantamount as we look forward to 2010.”

Jeff Immelt is a noted authority on international business and the economy, leading one of the world’s largest and most visible brands. He currently serves on President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Immelt will provide his perspective on what lies ahead for the global economy, as many experts predict recovery will begin in the next year.

Additionally, the GHP has assembled a panel of regional experts in energy, finance, health care and work force and technology to share their insights on what lies ahead for the Houston region’s key industries. Confirmed panelists include:

John Hofmeister, founder and CEO, Citizens for Affordable Energy;
Mike Ballases, chairman, JP Morgan Chase Houston, JP Morgan Chase;
Dan Wolterman, president and CEO, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System; and
Dr. Akhtar Badshah, senior director, Community Affairs, Microsoft Corporation.

Bob Nicholas, former KPRC-TV Channel 2 television anchor and president, Nicholas Earth Printing, LLC, will serve as moderator.

History of providing insight on the region’s economic future

The GHP will also use this platform to announce its 2010 jobs forecast. The regional business organization and its predecessor, the Houston Chamber of Commerce, have a long history of forecasting the coming year’s economic climate. The GHP has provided its perspective on job growth and the indicators which play a leading role in continued economic prosperity for 20 years. The Chamber began hosting large-scale economic outlook conferences in 1965 to mark its 125th anniversary and continued through the 1980s. The event routinely featured economists of national prominence and was one of the largest business events of the year. The GHP is looking to continue the tradition with this year’s event.

Houston region’s significance to the nation’s economy

As an indication of the Houston region’s significance to the GE brand, the company recently announced plans to hold its 2010 Annual Meeting of Shareowners here on Wednesday, April 28th, at the George R. Brown Convention Center. GE gathers shareowners in a different city each year to demonstrate the performance of specific business units and to illustrate the diversity and strength of the company’s business portfolio. GE employs more than 7,600 people at several sites across Texas, where GE Energy, Technology Infrastructure, Capital, Industrial and NBC Universal all operate facilities.

While many cities have been hard hit during the recent financial downturn, the greater Houston region has frequently been looked to as one of the few major metropolitan areas to have fared comparatively well. While the region has not been immune, it was one of the last MSAs to experience notable over-the-year job losses and is expected to be one of the first to enter recovery. The Houston Regional Economic Outlook event will provide a window into what regional and national experts believe is in store for 2010.

Public policy and international trade play leading roles in region’s recovery

Currently, several issues having direct implications on the region’s future ability to thrive loom on the horizon. Pending legislation on climate change, energy and health care could have a dramatic effect on area economic prosperity.

Additionally, Houston’s prominence in international commerce makes it more vulnerable than other large Texas metros to downturns in trade. The Houston region is easily the most internationally involved of Texas’ the major metros due in large part to the strength and position of its transportation infrastructure. The Port of Houston is ranked number one in foreign tonnage in the U.S. and is the 16th largest port in the world. The newly opened Fresh Air Cargo Facility at Bush Intercontinental Airport has bolstered the region’s ability to process perishable goods and positions Houston to capitalize on cargo business currently moving through Miami.

In effect, Houston serves as the port for Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. With the completion of the Panama Canal expansion slated for 2015, activity at the Port is expected to boom. Cargo from Asia destined for the nation’s heartland which currently must be shipped to the West Coast due to the Canal’s limited capacity will then be able to take a more direct route through the Port of Houston once work on the project is finished.

Tickets for the Houston Regional Economic Outlook event are $100 for GHP Members and $150 for nonmembers. For more information on tickets, contact Kristin Smith at ksmith@houston.org or 713-844-3694

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