At the chamber's Party on the Screen event Oct. 29, LHEDP President Mark Mitchell said the entities have always operated within the chamber's umbrella; therefore, he said, they should operate under the same name. The organizations currently work from the same building near downtown Humble.
"It became evident that the chamber board of directors should begin streamlining and integrating processes in order for both entities to be more efficient, grow and provide increased value to investors and the business community," he said.
The chamber, which is led by President and CEO Jenna Armstrong, serves as a voice for the business community in Humble, Kingwood, Atascocita, Fall Creek and Summerwood. At the event, Armstrong said the chamber was originally founded as the Humble Chamber of Commerce in 1923 before expanding to include the Lake Houston region. The chamber founded the EDP in 2011, and it launched in 2012 with a focus on the promotion of regional and local development in the area.
In an Oct. 30 phone interview, Armstrong and Mitchell further explained how Partnership Lake Houston will operate moving forward. Just like the EDP, the partnership will help businesses navigate economic incentives, financing and tax benefits; the partnership will also advocate for local businesses in the Texas Legislature, just as the chamber has done.
Armstrong said she will remain the CEO of Partnership Lake Houston, while Mitchell will be the chief economic development officer; however, they both will retain the same functions and roles. Now, the organization will be a "one-stop-shop" that will continue to grow and add jobs and capital investment to the region, she said.
"The work of the chamber and the EDP—we're still going to have the same initiatives and the same focus as far as providing business support, business services, advocacy, transportation and mobility, recovery and resiliency," she said. "But what it's enabling us to do—and it's more internally—is streamlining the organization and integrating our processes to make us more efficient, which really helps us to be able to expand our services and our programming for our businesses."
With the Partnership Lake Houston merger, Mitchell said businesses can come to the organization and join as a member, receive business counseling, and access financing resources and support on economic development benefits.
"We can be that central hub for all those organizations, and they can come to us and either get services right there, or we can be the conduit for that service to help them move forward," he said. "Based on what we've seen over the past couple of years, there's real and tangible value in that, and that's why we think it's been embraced as much as it has just over this past year."