From Chron.com | By Bryan Kirk | August 27, 2013
The Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce is taking steps to raise the aesthetic value of the northwest Houston area through increased awareness and involvement in several local communities.
At a crossroads
This year, members of the chamber have launched the Cypress Creek Parkway Property and Business Owners Association, provided assistance to the Old Town Spring Improvement District and are in the process of launching an aggressive economic development campaign dubbed Grow Northwest.
“We are at a crossroads in this community, so if we want to create a future ripe with promise, with plenty of high-paying jobs, with nice neighborhoods and an influx of young, educated families, we have to raise the bar and make some positive changes,” said Barbara Thomason, president of the Northwest Chamber.
The Cypress Creek Parkway Property and Business Owners Association is a nonprofit organization that operates like a voluntary management district along the FM 1960 corridor.
“The property owners association self-assesses area businesses for mutual benefit,” Thomason said.
Those benefits, which will be funded through the association, include security for area businesses, landscaping services and other service that can enhance business productivity.
With only three board members of local business property owners, the board is in its infancy, Thomason said.
However, because the business community is such a tight-knit group, she said there is no doubt the board will grow quickly.
Meanwhile, fueled by the momentum of a strong local economy and the recent visit to the Exxon Mobil campus in Fairfax, Va., the chamber has launched the Grow Northwest campaign.
The goal, Thomason said, is to increase the visibility and the value of northwest Harris County through community and business engagement, with one of the initial steps being the development of a community strategy including input from community and business leaders.
The chamber plans to work with groups in a workshop format to drive the community toward prioritized goals.
“It is important that we seize the opportunity now to build on recent successes and create the kind of business and community environment that will launch our region into the next level of growth and prosperity,” said Enrique Lima, a commercial real estate broker and chairman of the chamber.
“We must widely communicate the great opportunities available for businesses to expand in northwest Harris County.”
Thomason said the chamber is planning to launch the Grow Northwest website in September.
An interesting program concerns the new level of cooperation between the chamber and Old Town Spring, which is on the east end of Interstate 45.
The concept for reaching out to Old Town Spring was sanctioned by the board of directors.
Thomason said that while Old Town Spring is on the edge of the Houston Northwest Chamber’s service area, they see the potential and the benefit of being involved in an historic part of the Greater Houston area.
“History and heritage are an important amenity, just like a golf course, park or a theater,” Thomason said.
Hoping to increase marketing and business growth in Old Town Spring, the chamber has partnered with the Old Town Spring Improvement District that was created earlier this year.
Thomason said now that the improvement district is operating, it allows the chamber to make more direct contacts with area business leaders.
“What we are hoping to do is apply the resources we have for their benefit,” Thomason said.
Last month, the chamber began sending staff to the improvement district to provide administrative support while the district focused on marketing the Old Town Spring business community.
Leslie Sloan, who serves as the director of the Old Town Spring Improvement District, said the partnership is helping local business leaders become more growth focused.
“That is the big challenge of the small business owner; to get new ideas and to think in different ways to growth their business outside of the world where they live,” Sloan said.
“The bonus of being in Old Town Spring is this community is to your advantage.
“You’re not one all by yourself.
“You can use all the things going on around you to grow your business.”
The chamber will host a series of sessions that are designed specifically to increase the profitability of the shops and restaurants in Old Town Spring, and the chamber and the improvement district are working together to bring a farmer’s market to Old Town Spring, which Sloan hopes will increase business traffic.
As for local feedback from the business community, Sloan said she hasn’t gotten much, only because she is still building her business relationships.
“We have only had this relationship for three to four months,” she said.
“We are only just now getting these initiatives going, but so far the feedback I’ve gotten has been positive.”