As one of
Houston’s largest economic development organizations, the Bay Area Houston
Economic Partnership has, for more than 44 years, supported businesses in
southeast Texas. BAHEP’s Board of
Directors, and its more than 270 member companies, strongly encourage Texas
elected officials (local, state, and federal) to use all means possible to immediately
develop a strong, coordinated, and collaborative back-to-work plan to reopen Texas
for business. Further, because of Texas’
strong corporate readiness, its engineering prowess, its ‘can-do’ spirit, and
its proven expertise gained from successfully navigating previous crises, Texas
is uniquely qualified to lead the rest of the nation in its reopening plans. In addition, Houston business leaders are ready
to assist and participate in these planning and implementation phases to create
action now toward a positive outcome.
Before we get
to the many pressing justifications for a restart, we first want to thank
Governor Abbott for the strong leadership he has already exhibited in moving
Texas, and the nation, forward. He has
been correct to state, paraphrasing, that as goes Texas, so goes the nation. We applaud his efforts to release a ‘return
to work’ plan as early as the end of this week.
enjoys America's second largest state economy and produces more than $1.8
trillion of annual economic output -- ranking the Lone Star State as the
world's 10th largest economy. GDP in
Texas ranks slightly higher than all of Canada's GDP of $1.73 trillion. Texas has led the nation in new job creation
for the last several years. It is
imperative to get Texas’ massive economic engine back to full production as
soon as possible.
home, any lingering daily decline resulting from a continuing business shutdown
undoubtedly will bring down the Houston area's total economic output for
2020. Economic data and forecasts
present an increasingly grim outlook for Houston. A new Moody's Analytics analysis commissioned
by the Wall Street Journal provides one measurement of the economic
damage being inflicted on Houston. The
analysis, published April 2, indicates business closures in Harris County —
which represents two-thirds of the region's population — have caused a 27
percent drop in the county's daily economic output.
plan needs to be aggressive, and yet safe for Texas workers, customers,
healthcare suppliers, and citizens. It
must balance the necessary need for action with the safety and well-being of
just the kind of challenge to which Texans have always risen -- we can create
and execute such a plan. We must take
bold action NOW before the harm resulting from the COVID-19 cure (national
economic shutdown) becomes worse than the disease itself.
We must get
the Texas, and Houston, economies restarted as soon as possible as they have been
doubly injured. First, from the virus-related
shutdown itself and, secondly, from the sharp reduction in the demand for
fossil fuels (Texas’ lifeblood) resulting from the global immobility caused by
industry is grappling with the oil war between Russia and Saudi Arabia as well
as depressed demand for crude oil and gasoline. Economists predict the Houston area's
workforce will see massive losses as a result of the coronavirus and energy downturns.
Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the
University of Houston's Bauer College of Business, says a moderate recession
could siphon as many as 44,000 jobs from the region's economy by the end of
this year. The Perryman Group, a
Waco-based economic analysis firm, envisions the Houston area losing nearly
256,000 jobs and racking up $27 billion in economic losses. Patrick Jankowski, Greater Houston
Partnership economist, splits the difference and anticipates job losses of at
least 200,000, meaning losses would be less severe than the 1980s energy bust
but more severe than the Great Recession.
stay-at-home directives are negatively affecting virtually every sector of
Texas’ economic base. Restaurants are in
a fight for survival. Even with federal
relief, Texas’ major airlines - American, United, and Southwest - are reeling. In the lodging sector, Texas is projected to
lose 44 percent of its jobs, or more than 64,000 positions, according to a
mid-March forecast from the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Experts predict some Texas hotels won't
survive the coronavirus crisis unless swift action is taken to get back to work. Galveston’s previously thriving cruise
industry has been decimated.
very important reality is that the healthcare sector is extremely vulnerable
right now. While we appreciate that
local hospitals have not been inundated with COVID-19 cases, regular hospital
admissions have been drastically reduced because of the postponement or
cancellation of elective surgeries and treatments for non-life-threatening illnesses. Hospital revenues have plummeted as a result. Texans are delaying all doctor and dental
visits out of concern for the virus. It
is imperative that we keep the Texas healthcare system functional and the
back-to-work plan must address these healthcare issues.
been real harm caused within family life in Texas. There have been 745,443 total unemployment
claims in Texas since March 14th, representing 5.2% of the state
labor force. People’s schedules are in
flux, children are at home, and Texans are suffering.
good news is providing evidence that this is the best time to develop the back-to-work
plan. It appears that we are at, or near,
the apex of new cases of COVID-19.
People are recovering and new cases are dropping. For Harris County, an April 15th
graph (see below) of the Combined Daily Case Count (tracking new cases minus
recoveries) shows a sharp declination.
This is great news and the long awaited light at the end of the tunnel.
There are 3,238
active cases combined in Harris County and the City of Houston now - with 801
recoveries. And the recovery numbers are
moving in the right direction.
testing methods and availabilities are increasing daily. Most tests can take anywhere from a few hours
to a few days, but new rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 show promise of
results in less than an hour. Examples
of rapid diagnostic tests that have been recently authorized include those by:·
Abbott: results in as little as 5 minutes·
Mesa Biotech: results in as little as 30
Cepheid: results in as little as 45 minutes
There is also
a new saliva-based test through Rutgers which can deliver results in 24 to 48
race is now on for doctors and scientists to find effective therapies and a
vaccine for the coronavirus. A
successful vaccine is the ultimate solution to bringing the virus under
control. Three potential COVID-19
vaccines are making fast progress in early-stage testing in volunteers in China
Looking ahead, NIH infectious disease chief, Dr.
Anthony Fauci, indicates that it may now be possible to finish the necessary larger
studies to validate the efficacy of these vaccines sooner than the 12 to 18
months he’d originally predicted — maybe toward "mid to late winter of next
There is a final argument for implementing a
back-to-work plan now. In the
unfortunate event a decision to reopen Texas businesses now causes another flare-up
of the disease later this summer, our hospitals are ready
to react. We have more ventilators than
ever, more therapies, more PPE, more ICU beds, and more knowledge to tackle any
In conclusion, this paper has explained the stark
predicament that the national economic shutdown has caused and has weighed
those elements against the good news factors that are now emerging as a
justification for positive action to reopen Texas for business. The analysis is incontrovertible, and the
case has been made. We must act NOW to
develop a plan to get Texas, and the rest of the nation, back to work.