preparing the city of Houston

City of Houston announces partnership college on 5th anniversary of Hurricane Harvey

Together, the city and HCC will train Houstonians in resiliency preparedness. Image via Getty Images

Last week, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner looked back on the past five years since Hurricane Harvey and made a lofty goal to provide the community with resiliency training.

The city of Houston and Houston Community College signed a memorandum of understanding that will address the city's goal to train 500,000 citizens, employees, small businesses, volunteers, and first responders in new resiliency training programs starting this fall.

The agreement was signed last week at the "Embracing Resiliency Symposium" hosted by the Resilience Innovation Hub, Amegy Bank, and HCC in front of 175 business, civic, community, education, and government leaders attending.

“I am pleased to announce the City of Houston’s partnership with Houston Community College’s new Resilience Center of Excellence and the Operations Training Facility and all the many ways we will collectively pave the path for a stronger and more prepared citizens, workforce, and community and a more resilient future,” Mayor Turner says at the event.

“Five years back, as we faced the wrath and impacts of Hurricane Harvey, it was a moment of reckoning for us as a city. It spurred us to think more cohesively about response and recovery; and most importantly, it urged us to think about building forward from recovery, from response towards resilience," he continues.

Starting this fall, the Houston community will have access to the following seven resiliency courses:

  • Resiliency 101 + Community Emergency Response Training (CERT)
  • Disaster Case Management
  • Facilities and Infrastructure
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Drones, Data Science, and Internet of Things
  • Public Safety and Rescue
  • Medical Triage

An additional 30 courses and programs will follow in 2023.

“As Mayor Turner recently stated, the lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey and subsequent disasters have identified one common take-away: When we work together as a team, Greater Houston is always resilient,” HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado says at the event. “In light of this observation, we must remain vigilant so these disasters will not continue to harm our families, our neighborhoods, our companies, our facilities and the community-at-large."

Earlier this summer, HCC announced that it is developing the Resilience Center of Excellence to aid the city’s resilience campaign. At the heart of this project is the 65,000-square-foot, $30 million Resiliency Operations Center, which will be built on a five-acre site HCC’s Northeast campus. The complex is scheduled to open in 2024.

"The HCC Resiliency Center of Excellence and Operations Training Facility will contribute to addressing preparedness and long-term mitigation from future floods, storms, snow and ice, pandemics and other challenges that have cost the region in the loss of lives, community, operations, and economic competitiveness," Maldonado continues.

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Building Houston

 
 

Juliana Garaizar is now the chief development and investment officer at Greentown Labs, as well as continuing to be head of the Houston incubator. Image courtesy of Greentown

The new year has brought some big news from Greentown Labs.

The Somerville, Massachusetts-based climatetech incubator with its second location at Greentown Houston named a new member to its C-suite, is seeking new Houston team members, and has officially finished its transition into a nonprofit.

Juliana Garaizar, who originally joined Greentown as launch director ahead of the Houston opening in 2021, has been promoted from vice president of innovation to chief development and investment officer.

"I'm refocusing on the Greentown Labs level in a development role, which means fundraising for both locations and potentially new ones," Garaizar tells InnovationMap. "My role is not only development, but also investment. That's something I'm very glad to be pursuing with my investment hat. Access to capital is key for all our members, and I'm going to be in charge of refining and upgrading our investment program."

While she will also maintain her role as head of the Houston incubator, Greentown Houston is also hiring a general manager position to oversee day-to-day and internal operations of the hub. Garaizar says this role will take some of the internal-facing responsibilities off of her plate.

"Now that we are more than 80 members, we need more internal coordination," she explains. "Considering that the goal for Greentown is to grow to more locations, there's going to be more coordination and, I'd say, more autonomy for the Houston campus."

The promotion follows a recent announcement that Emily Reichert, who served as CEO for the company for a decade, has stepped back to become CEO emeritus. Greentown is searching for its next leader and CFO Kevin Taylor is currently serving as interim CEO. Garaizar says the transition is representative of Greentown's future as it grows to more locations and a larger organization.

"Emily's transition was planned — but, of course, in stealth mode," Garaizar says, adding that Reichert is on the committee that's finding the new CEO. "She thinks scaling is a different animal from putting (Greentown) together, which she did really beautifully."

Garaizar says her new role will include overseeing Greentown's new nonprofit status. She tells InnovationMap that the organization originally was founded as a nonprofit, but converted to a for-profit in order to receive a loan at its first location. Now, with the mission focus Greentown has and the opportunities for grants and funding, it was time to convert back to a nonprofit, Garaizar says.

"When we started fundraising for Houston, everyone was asking why we weren't a nonprofit. That opened the discussion again," she says. "The past year we have been going through that process and we can finally say it has been completed.

"I think it's going to open the door to a lot more collaboration and potential grants," she adds.

Greentown is continuing to grow its team ahead of planned expansion. The organization hasn't yet announced its next location — Garaizar says the primary focus is filling the CEO position first. In Houston, the hub is also looking for an events manager to ensure the incubator is providing key programming for its members, as well as the Houston innovation community as a whole.

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