By Seema Hakhu Kachru
The Houston economy is perking up, getting stronger
and paving the way for more companies to relocate or
expand their operations as the city offers
tremendous opportunities and a better quality of
Addressing a business luncheon Wednesday, hosted by
Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston
(IACCGH), the keynote speaker, Mr Jim Kollaer,
Greater Houston Partnership president, said,
�Economic Development is a quality of life, which is
possible if you can work together irrespective of
color or �deals�. Houston is as diverse as whole of
America will be in another 50 years, which has
helped make the city stronger than any other cities
in the nation�.
Commenting on the need to repeat the successes of
the International Festival Kollaer said �Houston's
economic development health will depend on
continuing to improve the Quality of Life factors of
education, open space, housing, parks and wildlife
over the next 25 years�.
�The success of the future lies in the continued and
expanded cooperation amongst the City, Harris
County, the various chambers represented in the room
as well as the other 30 plus economic development
allies who continue the quest for more jobs and
business growth in the region�.
Kollaer informed that over 250 Companies were
exploring options for expanding or relocating their
facilities here and listed factors they are
typically looking for �availability of workforce,
land or buildings, a high quality of life and
incentives, better schools, sports and geographic
diversity. Houston is strong in all these areas. We
are really blessed to have many allies on which to
draw to assist companies.
�Because of Governor Perry�s enterprise fund, 42,000
new jobs are coming to Houston and we expect this
growth to improve, he added.�
The luncheon focusing on �Economic Development in
Houston� and business opportunities both here and
with India provided around 130 participants, both
corporate and government leaders and members of
several local minority Chambers of commerce, a forum
to exchange ideas and build relationships.
Welcoming the guests in the beginning, Mr Jagdip
Ahluwalia, IACCGH Executive Director said that the
Chamber would continue to open up new opportunities
to its members to work with other area Chambers and
work in an enhanced network.
�Today�s event is special because it is probably
Jim�s last speech as President & CEO of the
Partnership, who has served the region�s largest
advocacy organization since 1990. During his tenure,
he has advanced the Partnership from a fledgling
organization to a business powerhouse that is
well-respected around the country for its opinion
and leadership on a range of issues�, Mr Ahluwalia
Commending the efforts of Consul General of India Mr
S R Tayal, who was the special invitee, for the
success of Houston International festival,
showcasing India, Mr Ahluwalia said, �Mr Tayal has
done immense work to make the festival a grand
success, right from its conception, making of the
book about India for distribution in schools, to the
sale of tables at the Mayor�s gala�.
Richard Huebner, Executive Director, Houston
Minority Business Council, the co-hosts of the
event, introduced the keynote speaker Mr Jim Kollaer
and commended him for his visionary role in shaping
Dr Randhir Sinha, IACCGH president presented a
souvenir and certification of appreciation to Mr
Kollaer. While presenting the honor, Dr Sinha said,
�Jim is certainly worthy of this honor. His
foresight and leadership has enabled our city and
region to be counted as a world-class place to live,
learn, play and work�.
Certificate of appreciation was also presented to Mr
Naville Ravji of Tara Energy and to Captain Prasad
Menon, founder IMC Maritime. Both IMC Maritime and
Tara Energy sponsored the event.
Mr Naville Ravji, Tara Energy Principal & Head of
Risk Management, spoke briefly about the company,
which is a retail electricity provider, while
accepting his certificate and thanked the community
for their continued support.
Dedicated to foster economic development for
Indo-Americans and business between India and the
United States, the IACCGH�s primary focus is to
create networking opportunities to all local
businesses enabling successful businessmen to share
their experiences and expertise with small
businesses and startups.
The chamber also provides training programs and
'mentor' programs to small businesses to enable them
to move to the next level of growth. They also help
in establishing links and relationships with the
City, State and Federal legislature bodies.
The guest list for the luncheon included; Mike
Rozell, Economic Advisor and Sally Lehr, Chief of
Staff to Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, Richard
Huebner, Executive Director, Houston Minority
Business Council, Charles Foster, Chairman Asia
Society, Saba Abashawl, Houston Airport Authority
and leaders and members of area Chambers of Commerce
and economic development agencies.
Co-hosting the local event with IACCGH was the
Houston Minority Business Council.
Phyllis Graham, on behalf of Continental Airlines,
gave away one business class ticket to Europe from
draw of lots; and door prizes were given out to some
lucky attendees courtesy Lufthansa.
Ms Cynthia Tauss, Gulf Coast Regional
Representative, representing the office of the
Governor Rick Perry proposed the vote of thanks.
She commended the Chamber for its constant effort to
reach out to the business community and stated that
the Partnership would work with the chamber in every
area of development, be it clean air,
transportation, education or commerce.
It was revealed at the Luncheon that plans are
underway for October 2005 Trade delegation to India.
Details on the delegation will be available from the
Greater Houston Partnership and IACCGH once
Photo Courtesy : Bijay Dixit
Front Row(L to R) Naville Ravji( Tara Energy ),
Jagdip Ahluwalia(Executive Director, IACCGH), Jim
Kollaer(Keynote Speaker:President Greater Houston
Partnership), Prasad Menon( IMC Maritime), Charles
Foster(President, Asia Society) , Phyllis
Graham(Continental Airlines), Richard
Huebner(Executive Director, HMBC)
Back Row( L to R) Rao Ratnala, IACCGH President Dr
Randhir Sinha, Cynthia Tauss(Governors Office), Mike
Rozell & Sally Leher (Judge Eckels Office), Consul
General of India in Houston Hon'ble Skand Ranjan