The Bayou City now wields some high-profile power in the state's economic development efforts.
The Texas Senate recently endorsed Gov. Greg Abbott's appointment of three business leaders with strong ties to Houston to the board of the Texas Economic Development Corp. — including the organization's new chair and vice chair.
Robert Allen, president and CEO of Texas' nonprofit economic development arm, says the Bayou City should feel well-represented on the board with former Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane as the new chair, Houston energy executive Vicki Hollub as the new vice chair, and Houston energy executive Scott Prochazka as a new member. That means Houston-connected business leaders hold three of the board's eight seats.
Allen calls McLane "the perfect Texas ambassador."
McLane, who lives in Temple, sold the Astros to Houston businessman Jim Crane in 2011 for $680 million. Forbes estimates McLane's net worth at $2.4 billion.
Today, McLane controls a Temple-based holding company with business interests such as food distribution, car dealerships and sports marketing. In 1991, he sold grocery distributor McLane Co. to Walmart, which later sold it to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.
"I can think of no one better to lead our efforts to market the state of Texas as the best state for business than Drayton McLane. He has achieved tremendous success in several areas of business, all while calling Texas home," Allen tells InnovationMap.
McLane also chairs the board of Texas Central Partners, the Dallas company developing high-speed rail service between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. In addition, he serves on the boards of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, Baylor Scott & White Healthcare, and the Cooper Institute.
"I am privileged to be able to give service to our great state of Texas and honored by Gov. Abbott's appointment as chair of the Texas Economic Development Corporation," McLane says in a statement provided to InnovationMap.
"The goal of the corporation is to help market Texas as a place for businesses to grow and prosper," he adds. "Texas is a great state, and we have much to offer businesses in many sectors. I care deeply for Texas and improving the economy that will carry us into the future."
Hollub, president and CEO of Houston-based oil and gas company Occidental Petroleum, is the new vice chair of the Texas Economic Development Corp. She's spent 35 years at Occidental, which just hammered out a $57 billion deal to take over Anadarko Petroleum, an oil and gas company based in The Woodlands.
In addition to the board of the Texas Economic Development Corp., Hollub sits on the boards of Lockheed Martin and the American Petroleum Institute, and she is U.S. chair of the U.S.-Colombia Business Council.
"As the first female to head a major oil and gas company in the world, Vicki defines what it means to be a Texan — hardworking, determined, and incredibly smart," Allen says.
Prochazka, president and CEO of CenterPoint Energy, a Houston-based provider of electric and natural gas service, joins McLane and Hollub on the board of the Texas Economic Development Corp. Aside from his duties at CenterPoint, Prochazka is incoming chairman of the American Gas Association, chairman of Central Houston Inc., and a board member of the Greater Houston Partnership.
Given his roles with Central Houston Inc. and the Greater Houston Partnership, Prochazka knows Houston "intimately well," Allen says.
The Texas Economic Development Corp. is an independently funded and operated nonprofit that promotes economic development, business recruitment, and job creation in Texas. For instance, the nonprofit helped pave the way for a $15 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Corpus Christi that recently made its first cargo shipment. Houston-based Cheniere Energy owns the facility.
With Abbott's appointment of eight members, the makeup of the economic development organization's eight-member board is entirely new. The governor appointed them in April, but the state Senate had to give its final approval, which came earlier this month.