The private economic group that guided Houston’s growth for more than seven decades met for the last time Friday to pass its assets to a city-led jobs creation group that also is involved with technical education.

Directors of the Houston Development Co. (HDC), first formed in 1946 to bring a shoe manufacturer to Houston and later a jeans manufacturer to Spruce Street, approved dissolution of the corporation and will donate any remaining funds to the City of Houston’s  Industrial Development Authority (IDA), which most recently acquired a 47,000 square foot Spruce Street building that houses Drury University and Mineral Area College, about 60 acres in the Northeast Industrial Park off North U.S. 63 and about six acres along West Highway 17 at the Houston Industrial Park.

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Rights and property that involves a cellular telephone tower on Spruce Street were assigned to the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce.

The move, which was earlier approved by the corporation’s shareholders, will open new opportunities for job creation in the community and cedes control of economic growth to a single organization. Unlike the HDC, the city’s economic development is eligible to receive grants and other incentives.

HDC’s work to create jobs spans generations. After the Lee Co. project, the group later had a hand in landing another shoe manufacturer, the Brown Shoe Co. Over the years, there were other successes, Houston House, a nursing home, arrived and the group constructed a building so that it could showcase it to any prospects. Today, the Durham Co., occupies it and has expanded multiple times, bringing its employment from 40 about 25 years ago to around 250 today. Three other tenants occupy the West Highway 17 industrial park.

The directors of the Houston Development Co. are Steve Hutcheson, Gary Gentry, R.E. “Eddie” Smith, Don Romines, Bill Gladden, Charles “Chalky” Wells and Chuck Manier. Gentry, Romines and Manier succeeded their fathers to join the organization’s leadership. Gladden is the longest serving director.

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