METRO is embarking upon the development of a new regional transit plan – METRONext – and they need you to be a part of it! Their transit system must help people get to where they need to go today, as well as in the future. They welcome your ideas on how to better serve the needs of our current customers, as well as your help in developing strategies to attract new customers to the transit system. Now is the time to start planning for the future.
Please see the attached meeting schedule and join them at an upcoming community open house to learn more about METRONext and share your vision for future transit in the greater Houston region.
Since June 1st was the beginning of hurricane season, we have not had to wait long for Tropical Storm Cindy to develop in the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, Cindy has sustained winds of 60 mph and is located in the northwestern Gulf with a projected landfall somewhere between Galveston, Texas and the Louisiana-Texas state line. Widespread heavy with flooding potential is the greatest threat with a 40% chance of isolated tornadoes from eastern Texas through the panhandle of Florida along the gulf coast. Some areas along the gulf coast from New Orleans to Pensacola have already received 4” to 7” of rain. An additional 4” to 8” inches of rain is possible along with winds gusting 30 to 45 mph in the Tropical Storm Warning area from Houston to Pensacola.
The latest storm projections show that heavy thunderstorms are developing around Cindy’s center of circulation, which increases the flood threat from Houston, Beaumont, Lake Charles to Shreveport eastward for later today through Thursday. This is significant since Cindy has been torn apart by wind shear and shown considerable disorganization. Therefore, it is important to be prepared as the storm track and impact could change! I have attached safety checklists for preparing for tropical storms and flooding and then what to do if you return to your home and it has experienced storm damage. Please feel free to share this with your employees, family and friends.
The American Red Cross is already pre-deploying resources, supplies and equipment to the areas being affected and/or forecast in the storm path. Shelters are on standby in southeast Texas and points eastward, while some shelters are already operating in Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Red Cross will always be there in times of need. Please stay safe and consider how you may be able to support the American Red Cross.
Tropical Storm Cindy
Tropical Storm Cindy is maintaining its strength in the central Gulf of Mexico, and is expected to bring potentially life-threatening flooding to parts of the Gulf Coast through late this week. Gusty winds, rip currents and isolated tornadoes are also expected. Moisture and energy from Cindy will also spread north and east ahead of a cold front Thursday to Friday, which will result in heavy rain and possible flooding from the South to as far north as the Ohio Valley. At least 17 million people are under a tropical storm warning from San Luis Pass, Texas, to the Alabama-Florida border. American Red Cross disaster workers across impacted areas are readying supplies, shelter locations and staffing resources in anticipation of the storm.
Texas: Red Cross disaster workers are closely monitoring the storm system and preparing staffing and material resources. Rainfall amounts of 3-5 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 6 inches can be expected in southeast portions of the state through Thursday.
Louisiana: Red Cross disaster workers are closely monitoring the storm system, and standing by to assist with sheltering and feeding resources throughout at-risk areas.
Mississippi: Red Cross disaster workers are preparing for possible flooding and any other complications related to the tropical storm. Heavy rains have already impacted coastal areas. On Tuesday the Red Cross operated two shelters to provide a safe place to stay for impacted residents overnight.
Georgia: Red Cross disaster workers are bracing for impact related to Tropical Storm Cindy, while also responding to several damaging flooding events (listed below). On Tuesday night the Red Cross operated one shelter which provided a safe place to stay for 13 people overnight.
Florida: Red Cross disasters teams are closely monitoring the storm system and are ready to provide sheltering and feeding assistance as needed. Tropical Storm Cindy is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6-9 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches in the Panhandle.
Tennessee: Red Cross disaster workers are closely monitoring the storm system’s trajectory and are prepared to respond with sheltering, relief supplies and feeding when it is expected to impact the region later this week.
MEETING CANCELED… due to the positioning of TS Cindy and the demands it has placed on the speakers, the June 21 flood forum will be rescheduled for a date to be determined.
If you have any questions please contact Charles Goforth, President of the Brays Bayou Association, at Goforth@vonniecobbrealtors.com.
With hurricane season underway, we encourage you to review the 2017 Hurricane Preparedness and Safety page.
If you have any questions and concerns please contact Mark Baker, Senior Corporate Major Gifts Officer, American Red Cross at Mark.Baker@redcross.org.
On Thursday, June 15th, “Dump the Pump” Day will be held. This annual national initiative raises awareness about the benefits of using transit and encourages people to ride transit instead of driving and save money. METRO will provide FREE rides on local, park and ride and light rail service all day.
Take a look at the commuter calculator found on the METRO web site to see just how much you can save using METRO on a regular basis.
Capital One Bank Sponsors Business Plan Competition – Celebrating Fifth Year
HOUSTON – (June 7, 2017) – The City of Houston and Capital One Bank are pleased to announce the 2017 launch of the “Liftoff Houston” Start Up Business Plan Competition; a program that is helping to launch new businesses today, for a better Houston tomorrow!
Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the 2017 program on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Sponsored by Capital One Bank in partnership with the Houston Public Library (HPL) and the Office of Business Opportunity (OBO), “Liftoff Houston” is a start-up business plan competition that engages and empowers Houstonians seeking to start a new business in Houston by providing them with access to essential information, resources and the support necessary to develop a sound business plan toward realizing their goal.
In its fifth year, Liftoff Houston has helped to educate thousands of individuals seeking information on how to start and sustain their business, supported the launch of new businesses, and provided over $120,000 in cash awards and incentives to those businesses. This year’s program will build on past successes to include more opportunities to showcase previous winners and finalists, encourage program participation and completion and engage the general public. Added program activities such as a Winners Panel and mixer featuring past competition winners, additional business plan and pitch coaching, cash incentives for business plan completion and fan favorite selections, and live streaming of key events are just some ways this will be accomplished.
Houston was recently named “Best City in America” for minority business owners by the Expert Market Group and the Liftoff Houston Start Up Business Plan Competition is an excellent example of how the City of Houston and key stakeholders such as Capital One Bank are working collaboratively to foster an environment that helps all Houstonians achieve their goal of business ownership.
“Houston is a city of economic opportunity. Liftoff Houston! is an opportunity for all Houstonians who are considering starting a business but may need that extra push to get started. I am grateful to our partners and Capital One Bank for continuing to invest in our small business community and I am inviting all interested Houstonians to participate.” stated Mayor Sylvester Turner.
To be eligible, applicants must have a for profit business that is less than a year old, has earned less than $10,000 in revenue, is operated and have owners who live within the Houston city limits. The top three finalists will receive much needed capital to invest in their business. Capital One Bank is providing cash prizes totaling $30,000 to the top three winning business plan submissions in the categories of Product, Service and Innovation. Prizes of $10,000 will be awarded for each category.
Entering the “Liftoff Houston” 2017 Business Plan Competition is easy and free. Application submissions open Wednesday, June 7, 2017, at 11 AM. All interested parties are required to complete and submit the application no later than 2 PM, Friday, July 5, 2017. To learn about the competition or to apply, visit www.Liftoffhouston.com or call 832-393-0954.
The competition is five months long and is divided into four stages that include: orientation, workshops, mentoring, and business pitching. The workshops will be offered at various Houston Public Library locations and other local entities citywide, with special emphasis on locations targeted in the Mayor’s Complete Communities neighborhoods.
“Capital One Bank is proud to once again sponsor the Liftoff Houston Competition,” said Jim Nicholas, Houston Market President for Capital One Bank. “Small business owners want solutions that make it easier for them to grow and manage their businesses. Through our product and services, and through our support of programs including Liftoff Houston, Capital One develops innovative solutions to help them succeed.”
“Startup businesses contribute significantly to the economic viability of our City and the Houston Public Library is proud to play an important role in helping to support their development through Liftoff Houston”, stated Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Director, Houston Public Library.
“The Liftoff Houston Business Plan Competition is an excellent forum for aspiring entrepreneurs to gain invaluable knowledge and get insights on how to successfully manage and grow their startup businesses. The Office of Business Opportunity is proud to support these businesses in their development.,” said Carlecia D. Wright, Director, Office of Business Opportunity.
About The Competition
The “Liftoff Houston” 2017 Start Up Business Plan Competition is designed to encourage Houstonians to achieve the goal of business ownership while contributing to the local growth and sustainability of the Houston economy.
To successfully research, develop and present the business plan, among other requirements, participants are required to have an HPL Library Card, attend workshops offered by industry experts, ranging in topics from business plan basics to presenting plans to financial institutions, and attend information sessions to learn about the free vast resources available to support new business start-ups through HPL and OBO.
Additional support will also be provided through professional business mentors to help participants further refine their business plan and financials. Liftoff Houston is proud to have the support from additional key partners such as SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and HTV!
About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., and Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., had $221.8 billion in deposits and $330.3 billion in total assets as of March 31, 2016. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has branches located primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in the S&P 100 index.
About the Office of Business Opportunity
The City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity is committed to creating a competitive and diverse business environment in the City of Houston by promoting the growth and success of local small businesses through a wide range of services from start-up business assistance to certification for established businesses seeking contract opportunities with the City. Through OBO’s Houston Business Solutions Center, they provide resources that help with the launch, sustainability, and growth of businesses. For more information about the Office of Business Opportunity and their suite of services, please visit www.houstontx.gov/obo or call 832-393-0954.
About the Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.
For further information visit the Houston Public Library at www.houstonlibrary.org or on Twitter @houstonlibrary or call 832-393-1313.
While there are no specific or credible threats to the Houston area, the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety & Homeland Security wants to remind residents of their role in preventing terrorism.
The best way Houston area residents can help prevent terrorist attacks from happening is to be vigilant of their surroundings and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. It’s important to remember that terrorism isn’t defined by what someone believes thinks, or the words they use. Terrorism is generally defined as the use of violence to pursue a political goal. Terrorism can be classified in many different ways, but ultimately, communities should be on-guard for acts which could result in death or injury.
Terrorism is a crime.
Remember it is not a crime to:
- Make harsh or inflammatory comments about the U.S., its government or its people.
- Have a strong set of beliefs that go beyond what is considered respectable discourse. Americans are guaranteed the right of free speech.
Who is a Terrorist?
The term “terrorist” can only apply to someone who has actually committed a crime. Terrorism is a type of blackmail used to threaten or intimidate.
Terrorism might target:
- Government policies
- One or more local communities
- A business or businesses
- One or more racial or ethnic groups
- Members of any specialty group
The goals of terrorism are usually political, social, or religious in nature. Terrorists often truly believe they are pursuing justifiable and righteous goals.
Terrorists may be seeking:
- To influence policy decisions
- Their own homeland or some type of independence
- Downfall of an existing government seen as unresponsive, authoritarian, corrupt or immoral
- Exemption from various laws or rules
What is Considered Suspicious?
- Suspicious Packages – Be alert to bags or packages that are unattended, that are smoking, or have visible suspicious wiring.
- Surveillance – Be aware of people who may be taking photos or making notes of security measures, such as cameras, law enforcement, or emergency exits.
- Unusual Supplies – If you observe someone buying or possessing a lot suspicious items that may be used to create explosives, such as fertilizer, chemicals, modified electronics or wires.
- Unseasonable/Bulky Clothing – If you see someone wearing a large jacket when the weather is not calling for it, or clothing with unexplainable humps or shapes.
- Unauthorized Entrance into Restricted Areas – People loitering around, or entering exits or restricted areas.
- Unauthorized or Empty Vehicles – Vehicles without license plates, or those that are parked illegally, or for a long period of time should be treated as suspicious
How to Report Suspicious Activity
If you feel there is a life threatening emergency in progress, call 9-1-1.
To report activity you think may be suspicious, call 1-855-i-watch-4 (429-8244) or report it online at iwatchhouston.org.
Where can I learn more?
The Houston Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Initiative (RCPI) and Ready Houston Initiative has information for residents and businesses on preventing terrorism online at iwatchhouston.org. This includes a facilitator guide for businesses, and videos on a range of topics including:
- Make the Call – Spotting Suspicious Activity (YouTube Video)
- Run.Hide.Fight (R): Surviving an Active Shooter Event (YouTube Video)
- Spotting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) (YouTube Video)
Also, make sure your family is prepared to deal with the after effects of a terrorist attack. Download a copy of the City of Houston Disaster Preparedness Guide from houstonoem.org.
Get ready for a summer of fun! METRO is taking students to all the fun for FREE with the Student Summer of Fun Pass. It gives K- 12 students free rides on METRORail, local buses and Park & Ride services June 1, 2017 through Sept.1, 2017.
The fun continues even when students head back to class. After September 1, 2017, the Summer of Fun Pass automatically converts to a discounted METRO Student QR Fare card which is coded with a 50 percent student discount. When students reload the card with money, they will automatically get half off the full fare, which means the savings continue!
There are three ways to apply for the pass:
Summer fun is waiting and METRO can get you there!
For more information on the program visit RideMETRO.org or call 713-635-4000.