Why small businesses are a big deal in Pearland

Small Business, Big Success

Pearland Town Center. Photo courtesy of PEDC

Here's a fun fact: 83 percent of businesses in Pearland are locally owned.

Besides providing a warm, fuzzy feeling, that fact actually has a big impact on what the Lower Kirby city has to offer other companies that are looking to relocate.

Understanding that small businesses are vital to the local economy, the Pearland Economic Development Corporation does all it can to support the formation and growth of new businesses.

To gain a better understanding of the needs of local businesses, PEDC recently conducted a survey of all businesses in the community. The survey found that 92 percent of business owners felt that Pearland is a great place to live, work, and operate a business, and more than 80 percent of survey respondents gave excellent or good marks to Pearland as a place to do business — higher than the national comparison.

The city recently launched an online permitting portal that helps emerging businesses navigate the business registration process with a streamlined, easy-to-use interface that can be accessed anywhere, any time.

By answering just a few questions, potential new business owners can see all the necessary requirements and fees. And commercial permits are reviewed and approved within 20 days, on average.

Additionally, PEDC and community partners are creating an Entrepreneurship Hub, which will enhance Pearland's innovation entrepreneurship culture by creating events, programs, and activities for entrepreneurs and small business owners to inspire ideation and entrepreneurship.

The Hub will connect the city to local and regional entrepreneurship assistance programs, service providers, and funding sources to help businesses maximize their growth potential and overall success. Offerings of the Hub will include business plan competitions, proactive coaching, networking events, and student programs.

In addition to the resources offered, many small businesses that have relocated to Pearland cite the safety of the community and ease of access via multiple thoroughfares as top reasons that led them to the community.

Brask Neela, a small business founded in Louisiana, constructed a new manufacturing facility in Pearland to custom fabricate heat transfer equipment on 9.45 acres in Pearland's Industrial Drive Business Park. After its move to the Pearland area, the company can better service petrochemical and chemical customers in Texas City, Freeport, and Baytown, as well as global clients.

In addition to PEDC's assistance with land acquisition and attractive incentives, Brask Neela was drawn to the location's proximity to the workforce, the area's infrastructure, and open communications with the City of Pearland.

"Pearland provided incentives, proximity to workforce both for shop and office, infrastructure, and clear communication to address any needs with city officials," says Kevin Sareen, Brask Neela's business development manager.

Rollac Shutters manufactures exterior rolling shutters, solar zip shades, and awnings, and opened a 105,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility that allowed the company to engage in environmentally responsible manufacturing practices and integrate sustainability principles in its day-to-day operations.

"As a family-owned business, location and incentives were most important to us," says Eva Konrad, vice president at Rollac Shutters. "Pearland offered both and we love it here."

The new HCA Healthcare Center in Houston. Photo courtesy of PEDC

New Pearland healthcare training center will raise the bar for nursing in Houston

Training for More

As if those in the healthcare field needed another reason to relocate to Pearland: the HCA Healthcare Center for Clinical Advancement opened its doors on July 27.

Located at the Pearland Town Center at 11200 Broadway St., building 200, the two-story, 48,400-square-foot training center houses hospital simulation labs, virtually-connected classrooms, and debriefing rooms.

The center provides ongoing education for HCA Houston Healthcare's 7,000 nurses and will help standardize training across the system's 13 Greater Houston-area hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, emergency centers, and imaging facilities.

The utilization of simulcast technology will also facilitate education and training opportunities for colleagues working in locations across the HCA Healthcare Gulf Coast Division, which includes facilities in Corpus Christi and South Texas.

"The HCA Healthcare Center for Clinical Advancement is a significant part of our strategic nursing plan to support and grow our nurses as the differentiator at our hospitals and other facilities," says Kelli Nations, chief nurse executive at HCA Houston Healthcare, one of the city's largest healthcare systems. "It certainly helps us raise the bar for nursing care in Houston."

The first floor is designated for nurse training, which can last up to 22 weeks, depending on their specialty. Additional classroom and conference room space on the second floor will serve as a hub for new-hire orientations and the system's leadership and organizational development training for up to 250 employees at a time.

"Bringing the latest teaching technologies under one roof in a new, advanced facility is a major step in preparing our nurses to provide the highest level of care," says Nations.

Additional facility features include a simulated hospital supply room, a large break room, a mother's room for employees who are nursing, and several lounge areas.

Don't forget about quality of life when choosing where to put your headquarters. Photo courtesy of PEDC

The top 4 reasons why businesses are rewarding employees by choosing Pearland

The Good Life

Employees consistently say that quality of life is an important factor when choosing which corporations to align themselves with, and more and more companies are discovering the appeal of Pearland, in Lower Kirby.

Global facilities such as Lonza have chosen the area based on its many attractive factors, adding another incentive when recruiting.

Here's a look at what Pearland has to offer:

Education
The school districts serving the Pearland area, such as Pearland ISD and Alvin ISD, are all highly rated, plus it's home to the University of Houston – Clear Lake Pearland campus.

Eight bachelor's degree programs are offered, along with six programs to obtain a graduate or professional degree.

Recreation
Got a little slugger or aspiring quarterback in the family? Pearland boasts both a champion Little League World Series team and state champions in high school football.

Organized sports aside, families will soon be able to enjoy the 21-mile Clear Creek Trail, which is currently in development and will span the entire length of the Pearland community when finished.

Developments in recent years have added a variety of retail and restaurant options, with the largest being the Pearland Town Center.

Housing
Texas in general is experiencing a housing surge, but Pearland is especially booming. More than 10,000 single-family homes have been constructed over the past 10 years, with no signs of the growth slowing.

Plus, employees moving from dense urban areas are delighted to discover the Lone Star State's wide-open spaces.

Healthcare
Pearland is a community that values healthcare — the 77584 ZIP code is home to more Texas Medical Center employees than any other in the region.

In fact, more than 13 percent of Pearland residents work in healthcare. They have many opportunities from which to choose, as many entities have opened new campuses in the past several years, including Memorial Hermann, HCA Healthcare, and Kelsey-Seybold.

Explore more about Pearland and what makes it great for businesses here.

The Lonza facility in Lower Kirby. Photo courtesy of Pearland Economic Development Corp.

Why one of the world's leading life science companies chose Pearland

Love Your Location

In 2018, Switzerland-based company Lonza debuted a 300,000-square-foot life science facility in Pearland, the largest dedicated cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility in the world at the time.

What made one of the world's largest companies for contract development and manufacturing choose Lower Kirby for this groundbreaking building?

"The location was ideal for the expansion capability, proximity to the Texas Medical Center, and ease of access from major freeways 288 and Beltway 8," says Frank Bugg, Lonza's site head. "Many Lonza employees also reside in the Pearland area."

The company also sought a location for this "Center of Excellence" that would maintain a presence on the "third coast" of biotech. Lonza currently employs more than 500 at its Pearland facility.

Additional factors that made Pearland's Lower Kirby District an attractive choice for Lonza were the nearby life sciences community, infrastructure, and quality-of-life benefits such as top-rated schools and a reasonable cost of living.

The team at this location is currently leading efforts in four categories: research and development, process development, cell and gene therapy manufacturing, and viral vector manufacturing.

Cell and gene therapy is growing and these novel medicines are getting established as a validated treatment option — the field is transforming the way cancer or genetic diseases can be treated.

In 2019, Lonza provided manufacturing services for more than 300 commercial molecules and supported the development of more than 700 pre-clinical and clinical molecules in small and large molecules, as well as supporting the launch of pioneering autologous cell therapies.

These novel drug candidates provide drastically improved patient outcomes and, in some cases, can be curative. However, manufacturing of such medicines pose complex new challenges.

Today, the cost of production still represents a major hurdle for clinical translation and commercialization of these potentially groundbreaking therapies. New technologies are needed to enable robust and cost-efficient manufacturing of high-quality medicines.

While the therapeutic opportunities for patients are exciting, the stakes for patients and drug developers are high.

Lonza serves as a partner to its customers, keeping manufacturing costs under control and following the process through the regulatory bodies through to commercialization.

The company also helps develop and commercialize its customers' innovative new therapies. Lonza scientists and engineers bring decades-long development experience across a broad spectrum of cell types and technologies. With this background, they can tailor services in process and analytical development, manufacturing, and regulatory support.

The work done at Lonza is at the forefront of medical breakthroughs. These cell and gene therapies are shaping the way we treat modern diseases, and now it's being done right in Houston's own backyard.

Since the Pearland facility's opening in 2018, Lonza has continued to expand with the addition of laboratories, clean rooms, and additional parking.

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Comcast donates tech, funds to support diversity-focused nonprofit

gift of tech

A Houston organization focused on helping low-income communities by providing access to education, training, and employment has received a new donation.

Comcast’s Internet Essentials program announced the a donation of a $30,000 financial grant and 1,000 laptops to SERJobs. The gift is part of a new partnership with SERJobs that's aimed at educating and equipping adults with technical skills, including training on Microsoft Office and professional development.

“SERJobs is excited to celebrate 10 years of Comcast's Internet Essentials program,” says Sheroo Mukhtiar, CEO, SERJobs, in a news release. “The Workforce Development Rally highlights the importance of digital literacy in our increasingly virtual world—especially as technology and the needs of our economy evolve. We are grateful to Comcast for their ongoing partnership and support of SERJobs’ and our members.”

For 10 years Comcast's Internet Essentials program has connected more than 10 million people to the Internet at home — most for the first time. This particular donation is a part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity.

“Ten years is a remarkable milestone, signifying an extraordinary amount of work and collaboration with our incredible community partners across Houston,” says Toni Beck, vice president of external affairs at Comcast Houston, in the release.

“Together, we have connected hundreds of thousands of people to the power of the Internet at home, and to the endless opportunity, education, growth, and discovery it provides," she continues. "Our work is not done, and we are excited to partner with SERJobs to ensure the next generation of leaders in Houston are equipped with the technical training they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.”

It's not the first time the tech company has supported Houston's low-income families. This summer, Comcast's Internet Essentials program and Region 4 Education Service Center partnered with the Texas Education Agency's Connect Texas Program to make sure Texas students have access to internet services.

Additionally, Comcast set up an internet voucher program with the City of Houston last December, and earlier this year, the company announced 50 Houston-area community centers will have free Wi-Fi connections for three years. Earlier this year, the company also dedicated $1 million to small businesses struggling due to the pandemic that are owned by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

President Joe Biden appoints Houston green space guru to lofty national post

new gig

Aprominent and nationally acclaimed Houston parks presence has just received a hefty national appointment. President Joe Biden has named Beth White, Houston Parks Board president and CEO, the chair of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the organization announced.

The NCPC, established by Congress in 1924, is the federal government’s central planning agency for the National Capital Region. The commission provides overall guidance related to federal land and buildings in the region. Functions include reviewing the design of federal and local projects, overseeing long-range planning for future development, and monitoring capital investment by federal agencies.

Fittingly, White was initially appointed to NCPC as the at-large presidential commissioner in January 2012, per a press release. She was reappointed for another six-year term in 2016. Most recently, White served as the commission’s vice-chair.

“I’m honored to chair the National Capital Planning Commission and work with my fellow commissioners to build and sustain a livable, resilient capital region and advance the Biden Administration’s critical priorities around sustainability, equity, and innovation,” White said in a statement.

Before joining Houston Parks Board in 2016, White served as the director of the Chicago Region Office of The Trust for Public Land, where she spearheaded development of The 606 public park and was instrumental in establishing Hackmatack Wildlife Refuge.

Renowned in the Windy City, she also was managing director of communications and policy for the Chicago Housing Authority; chief of staff for the Chicago Transit Authority’s Chicago Transit Board; and assistant commissioner for the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development. She was the founding executive director of Friends of the Chicago River, and currently serves on the Advisory Board for Urban Land Institute Houston.

The graduate of Northwestern and Loyola universities most recently received the Houston Business Journal’s 2021 Most Admired CEO award, per her bio.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.