HOUSTON CITY HALL

Members of the Houston City Council received reports from consultants Monday that will be used to aid in workforce development and study the possibility of faster internet.

Bob O’Brian, the principal of O’Brian & Associate LLC of Joplin, presented an executive summary of the findings that gives clues to the existing workforce and datapoints that can be used to attractive new jobs to the Texas County seat.

Rob Harrington, economic development director for the City of Houston, said the report helps “create a foundation” for the future to aid in community planning. A second report — this one on housing — will be released soon.

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Residents completed surveys earlier on jobs and that information was used to draft O’Brian’s report to the council. A detailed story about the report will appear in the Nov. 27 issue of the Herald.

In other matters, members:

•Approved a mayoral appointment of Sheena Postlewait to the Houston Parks and Recreation Board. The move fills out the board, which is charged with overseeing the various parks and recreation offerings. Earlier this year, the group received a big boost with voter approval of a one-cent city sales tax with half dedicated to it. The coming year also will see construction of a new municipal swimming pool and bathhouse.

•Approved a city employee committee recommendation of Connell Insurance Inc. of Springfield to act as broker for health insurance benefits for the city workforce. Connell will begin negotiations on behalf of the city.

•Held the first reading of the 2020 city budget that will guide local government next year. The council, administration and supervisors began the process earlier this year and a final adoption could come as early as Dec. 2. A 28-page draft has been completed. (See a detailed report on the city plan in the Nov. 27 issue of the Herald, out a day early due to the Thanksgiving holiday)

•Adjourned into a closed session to meet with representatives of a firm that recently studied the feasibility of a municipally owned broadband system. Proprietary information was to be part of the discussion. The council authorized a study in July of a fiber-to-the-home internet system that would provide speeds up to 1 gig.

Harrington says that faster internet is important to make the community attractive for recruitment of industry and residents to the community.

The need for faster internet was highlighted by industry consultants, Newmark Knight Frank, who issued a report in May on Houston’s readiness to attract jobs. It urged the city study its infrastructure and aim toward being a “gig city.” Houston already owns its own electrical system, and profits from it have historically paid for many improvements over the last half century. The labor consultant, O’Brian, also discussed the need for the service Monday to attract workers to the community.

 

 

 

Rob Harrington, economic development director for the City of Houston, said the report helps “create a foundation” for the future to aid in community planning. A second report — this one on housing — will be released soon.

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