Dutch West 8 Has a Brilliant Landscape Design for Houston’s Botanic Garden 

The Dutch firm has created a unique pedestrian bridge that features an arch of trees overhead

The Dutch landscape-design group West 8 knows how to incorporate green space nearly anywhere. And with its most recent design of a botanical garden in Houston, the firm might’ve taken its abilities to a whole new level—literally. A footbridge at the Houston Botanic Garden will feature an arch of trees, secured to steel beams, that is rooted over the heads of pedestrians walking below. The garden, which is replacing a suburban golf course, will lift much of the existing topography in order to raise it out of potential flood plains. Other areas will actually be excavated to form natural ponds and wetland gardens when water inevitably rises in a part of the state that is prone to flooding. “The plan takes its inspiration and structure from the best qualities of the existing site, and gives forethought to the biggest environmental challenges: flooding and intense weather events,” the firm said in a statement. The 120 acres of land will include an open lawn area, a hiking and bike trail, and natural and cultivated gardens, as well as a conservatory building.

There has been some resistance from locals on the city’s plan to build a botanical garden. A handful of residents are upset by the fact they are losing a golf course; others are concerned with more practical matters, such as the potential for traffic congestion. Organizers from the botanic gardens insist that they will work with local residents to find solutions to their problems. The outcry even led Jeff Ross, president and CEO of the Houston Botanic Garden, to suggest to a reporter that change never occurs without some concerns. “We're very committed to working with the community in solving any problems,” he said in a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle.

Once completed, the gardens will offer year-round beauty to visitors. What’s more, guests will be provided respite from the Texas-heat with connected pavilions, cafés, and lecture halls. Nearly all parts of the botanical garden will be interwoven in network of tree-lined pathways, which will grant guests access to all parts of the land, while also providing much needed shade. Construction is slated to begin in 2018.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 25, 2016 Categories: Innovation

Houston medical conference aims to be next OTC 

Dr. Robert Robbins, President of Texas Medical Center                 

With attendance down nearly 28 percent at this year's Offshore Technology Conference, the Texas Medical Center wants to take a health care conference in its third year and make it something the city's tourism industry can count on in years ahead.

Medical World Americas is a three-day conference starting May 18 that covers a broad variety of topics around health care and brings in experts from around the world. It has also prompted other health care-related conferences and events to co-locate in Houston at the same time, creating a whole week dedicated to health care.

MWA's counterpart, Medica, is an annual conference in Germany with more than 130,000 visitors from 120 countries. The program wanted to expand to North America and looked at Houston because of the TMC. Three years ago, Dr. Robert Robbins, CEO of the TMC, originally envisioned the conference to be Houston's next OTC within five years of its launch. It's taken a little longer, he admits, but still sees an opportunity to make it a staple of the city's convention schedule.

"I really believe that over the next four to five years as we get TMC3 opened and hopping, get more companies here, this will get Houston in the center of everybody's sights about where the hot new life science and medical cities are," he told the HBJ.

In its first two years, MWA had a $1.5 million economic impact on the Houston area and accounted for 1,200 hotel rooms, according to Houston First. While those numbers pale in comparison to the tens of thousands that attend OTC, which has been around much longer, MWA has had significant traction. While Houston has hosted medical conferences in the past, there haven't been as many as Houston First would have liked, despite health care being a major industry here.

"For whatever reason, in the past, we've not been able to crack that code as much as we'd like to," said Michael Heckman, senior vice president for Houston First Corp. "It's a great opportunity."

This year's keynote speaker is Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway as well as health care-related technologies. Around 2,500 medical professionals are expected to attend the conference, which will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, up from 2,300 last year, Heckman said.

Kamen's keynote represents an ongoing shift for MWA to focus more on health care commercialization, which has also been a major focus for Robbins in his tenure at the medical center.

"More and more, you're going to see this place become hotter in terms of biotech and the translation of fundamental commercialization of products. The meeting is going to need to change to reflect that," Robbins said.

Source: Houston Business Journal


Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 23, 2016 Categories: Health

Ambassador Henne Schuwer visits Houston - the coverage 

Last week we welcomed our Ambassador Henne Schuwer and Remco Zeeuw, Head of Economic Department, in Houston, Texas. A program with different activities and events were awaiting them.

Their first visit was a breakfast meeting with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP),Texas A&M University and elected officials to discuss collaboration with The Netherlands on a number of initiatives, the most pressing being moving forward with the design and construction of a coastal spine and flood gates to protect the coast and upper Galveston Bay, including the Houston Ship Channel from future storm surges like or worse than the area suffered from Hurricane Ike in 2008. Click here for an impression.

After the breakfast meeting we talked with Henri Remmers founder of Corpus. Corpus has plans to build a museum in League City, close to Houston. Henri Remmers and his team informed us about the status. Click here for an impression.

During a luncheon with more than 40 members of the Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce  at the NRG Stadium there was a discussion about the relation between the Netherlands and Texas and the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP). Besides there was enough time to get to know each other and strengthen existing relationships. Click here to watch the great atmosphere.

Afterwards the Ambassador and the Minister of Economics, together with the Honorary Consul Jos Wellink and Sander Vergroessen, Managing Director at IRO, visited the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC). There they spoke with different Dutch companies. The Ambassador was proud that the Dutch were so well presented at the OTC. It was nice to hear that the Dutch company Barge Master won the Spotlight on new technology award. Click here for an impression.

Finally, Henne Schuwer was one of the hosts, together with Sander Vergroessen and Pieter van Oord, CEO of Van Oord, of the annual Holland Network Reception at the Museum of Fine Arts where 400 American and Dutch people joined. For the second time on this beautiful location the reception was a huge success. Click here for an impression.

This program was developed in cooperation with the Netherlands Business Support Office (NBSO Texas). With this visit we were given the opportunity to show the huge potential of the Texas economy to the Netherlands.

Photos by American Prestige Photography

Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 08, 2016 Categories: Handelsmissie

BMW opens new vehicle distribution center at the Port of Galveston 

The BMW Group opened its new vehicle distribution center at the Port of Galveston on April 20, about a year after first breaking ground.

The new 44,000-square-foot facility at 1028 Harborside Drive was developed to better serve the New Jersey-based company's 45 BMW and Mini dealers in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. The company expects to import and process approximately 32,500 vehicles annually at the new facility.

The new development sits on approximately 20 acres and spans two buildings where vehicle inspection, accessory installation, vehicle programming, and vehicle maintenance and storage are performed.

Why Galveston? BMW's Southern Region is growing faster than any other region in the U.S.," Stephan Reiff, vice president of aftersales for BMW of North America, said in a statement. "Building this facility allows us to continue to deliver the highest quality vehicles while providing faster delivery times to our customers."

WWL Vehicle Services Americas, a global provider of auto processing and outbound vehicle logistic services, owns and operates the facility under BMW Group on-site management. Approximately 40 BMW Group and WWL Vehicle Services employees will work at the facility.

 Michael Mierzwa, port director for the Port of Galveston, previously said in a statement that the new facility will help the port continue to be an economic engine.

 "With this new vehicle processing center, we are confident that the activity level of the port will continue to increase, including the creation of new livable wage jobs. We are pleased that our successful efforts to maintain existing world-class tenants and to attract additional ones continues," Mierzwa said in the statement.

Source: Houston Business Journal

Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 03, 2016 Categories: Economy

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is moving its headquarters from New York to Houston 

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries moving its continental headquarters from New York to Houston is a big vote of confidence from a global corporation.

"When a company like this puts a headquarters here that signals to other companies that are on the East Coast or the West Coast, 'Hey I ought to be thinking about moving my headquarters to Houston,'" said Bob Harvey, the president and CEO of The Greater Houston Partnership.

It's big enough Governor Greg Abbott and members of Congress were here to welcome the new headquarters, which is relocating from New York.

"You could have chosen any place in the United States to make your headquarters. We are proud you chose Houston. You chose wisely," said Gov. Abbott. "It is even sweeter knowing that New York's loss is Texas' gain. This has been the result of quintessential Texas teamwork."

It comes at a time when Houston's economy is in a bit of haze, with low energy prices having a far-reaching effect. The latest numbers from the Texas Workforce Commission show Houston gaining in service and healthcare related jobs, but losing big in manufacturing, mining and retail.

That said, the Greater Houston Partnership reports there were 244 new companies that set up shop in Houston in 2015. So far this year, there are 89 and 1 in 5 come from foreign companies like Mitsubishi.

"Texas as you know, last one in the recession in 2008, first one out," said Texas Congressman Randy Weber, who attended the ceremony. "You heard a lot of discussion about how great Texas is. We're gonna make it through this."

Source: abc13



Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 03, 2016 Categories: Economy