Houston-Galveston Area Council Newsletter    January 2021
November Board of Directors Meeting
At its final meeting of 2020 on Tuesday, Dec. 15, the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) Board of Directors authorized the launch and renewal of new and existing programs that will set the tone for a safer, more economically viable region in 2021 and beyond.

The board approved a new transportation safety public education campaign that aims to broaden residents' knowledge about the rules of the road and encourage more cooperative, lawful behavior. The campaign is one of the first key steps in a regional Vision Zero resolution adopted by the Transportation Policy Council to end traffic fatalities in our region by 2050.

Additionally, the board renewed an agreement with Harris County extending the Gulf Coast Regional Tow and GoTM Program through early 2022. Tow and Go helps to reduce traffic congestion and prevent secondary crashes on freeways by providing stalled cars no-cost towing service to a safe place off the nearest freeway exit. More than 60,000 tows were completed January 2019 through November 2020 with an average clearance time of 16.5 minutes. In the summer of 2020, the Tow and Go program expanded its service area to include all camera-monitored freeways in Harris County as well as the cities of Bellaire, Jersey Village, Humble, and La Porte. Motorists stranded in the Tow and Go service area can call 713-881-3333 or visit towandgo.com for assistance.

The board moved to support small businesses by allowing Workforce Solutions to proceed with developing a new series of online bootcamps to assist young and women entrepreneurs in building, sustaining, and expanding their small businesses in Texas. Workforce Solutions has contracted with the Women's Business Enterprise Alliance and with MassChallenge, Inc. to develop the bootcamps.

Towards the end of the meeting, the board approved new appointments to the H-GAC Energy Purchaing Corporation Board, the Transportation Policy Council, and the Transportation Advisory Committee. Click here for the full list of nominees.
Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, Jan. 19

The next board of directors meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., Jan. 19, 2021. If there are any scheduling or location updates to this meeting, we will notify the public immediately. For more information on H-GAC's Board of Directors, past meeting agendas or minutes, or to find dates for future meetings, visit the Board of Directors website.
H-GAC Program Spotlight: Apprenticeships
At its December meeting, the H-GAC Board of Directors recognized apprenticeships. Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced journey workers with related classroom instruction. Apprentices are considered full-time employees who earn a salary/wages as well as education credits.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, apprenticeships have provided workers who lost their jobs a stable pathway back to work or the opportunity to venture into a new career. Workforce Solutions has proven itself as a leader in partnering with employers to develop and register apprenticeship programs and to recruit apprentices. Since March 2020, 75% of the apprentices placed into local programs were individuals who had lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Workforce Solutions will continue to work with employers to develop new apprenticeship opportunities in 2021. Plans are currently under way with organizations such as the Water Environment Association of Texas, Houston Methodist Hospital, early childhood development/education providers, and contract tracing groups. The agency also seeks to expand apprenticeships in industries such as IT security, healthcare, insurance, and finance.

Job seekers interested in learning more about apprenticeships can contact their nearest Workforce Solutions career office or visit the agency's Jobs Search page to find a program in their community.
Program Contact: Crosby Brito
Title: Project Manager - Employer Service
Years at Workforce Solutions: 11
Contact Phone: 713-993-2456
H-GAC, Harris County Bring Additional Relief to Small Businesses by Converting All Loans to Grants
Earlier in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began severely impacting small businesses, Harris County joined H-GAC to bring immediate relief to those businesses in the county with the Harris County COVID-19 Forgivable Loan Program.

A total of 444 area small businesses received interest-free loans of up to $25,000, which would be forgiven after five years. Thanks to federal CARES Act funding received by the county, every single one of those loans has been converted into grants. Read more about it in our press release online.
H-GAC Annual Meeting Will Take Place on Friday, Jan. 29
H-GAC will host its annual meeting on Friday, Jan. 29. The program begins at 9 a.m. Meeting details and a link to join the Zoom meeting will be sent out very soon. For more information, please contact Cynthia Jones at cynthia.jones@h-gac.com.
Gulf Coast Workforce Board Releases 2021-24 Local Plan
The Gulf Coast Workforce Board has released the 2021-24 Local Plan. The Local Plan lays out the broad workforce and human resources needs for the region’s future and showcases how the board and Workforce Solutions will use its programs and resources to meet those needs.

The Local Plan has been revised as mandated by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which requires each local workforce board to update their four-year plan at the end of the first two years. The full document can be viewed online at: wrksolutions.com/about-us/local-workforce-development-plan

Members of the public and stakeholders are invited to review the 2021-24 Local Plan and make comments at an upcoming virtual public meeting at 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 15. Meeting details are below:
Zoom Virtual Meeting
Meeting URL:
Meeting ID: 938 7868 0993
Passcode: 682320
Teleconference Call-In Information
U.S. Toll-free: 877-853-5247 or 888-788-0099
Participant ID: Press #
Passcode: 682320
The public comment period will be open until Jan. 21. To provide feedback, you may email your comments to comments@wrksolutions.com.

For more information about the Gulf Coast Workforce Board and about Workforce Solutions, visit wrksolutions.com.
Mark Your Calendars for These Upcoming Community and Environmental Events
Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable
Bringing Back Main Street Logo
H-GAC's next Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable will take place online from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. 

The roundtable will feature the Texas Department of Agriculture's Community Development Block Grant programs available to rural communities for wide variety of downtown revitalization projects. Recent awardees of these funds will share their stories.
Registration is required. For more information, contact Cheryl Mergo.
Parks and Natural Areas Summit and Awards and WISE Awards
The combined Parks and Natural Areas Summit and Awards and Water Innovation Strategies of Excellence (WISE) Awards will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5. This event will be online.
The event will include the annual Parks and Natural Areas Awards recognition ceremony. These projects serve as models for planning and project implementation for parks and natural areas in the region. Projects will be honored in three categories: Planning Process, On-the-Ground Projects Over $500,000, and On-the-Ground Projects Under $500,000. 
H-GAC will also honor the winners of the WISE Awards, recognizing innovative strategies and projects in the Houston-Galveston region that serve as models for improving water quality.
Registration is required.
Trash Free Texas: Adopt-A-Spot Online Training
Save the date for a Trash Free Texas: Adopt-A-Spot training from 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 25.
The training will be online and will teach participants how to use the updated Adopt-A-Spot online tool, including how to submit new locations for adoption and how to become a waterway cleanup volunteer. 
This training is a part of H-GAC’s Trash Free Texas project. For this project, H-GAC has partnered with the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment to establish a unified, coordinated approach to litter abatement and community engagement in the six river basins in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston regions.
Registrationis required. For more information, contact Kathy Janhsen
Free, Online Chronic Disease Self-Management Workshop Empowers Older Adults to Take Charge of Their Health
The Houston-Galveston Area Agency on Aging will provide a free, six-week Zoom workshop discussing chronic disease self-management. This evidence-based course empowers older adults to take charge of their health and feel better. This program is funded in part by Texas Health and Human Services' Older Adult Opioid Grant Program.
According to the Texas Office of the Attorney General, there were 1,375 opioid related deaths in Texas in 2016, and opioid deaths have quadrupled in the U.S. since 1999. According to the CDC, older adults can prevent opioid misuse by working with their doctor to create a plan to manage pain. This includes knowing all options for pain management and considering options that do not include opioids, talking with a prescribing doctor about any and all side effects and concerns, and not exceeding the dose or frequency of an opioid prescription. Alternatives to opioids for pain management include ibuprofen or acetaminophen, antidepressants, exercise, physical therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
The chronic disease self-management course empowers individuals to discuss treatment options with their healthcare provider and can be a useful tool in finding alternative ways to manage pain and other aspects of chronic illness. Space is limited. More information can be found by visiting h-gac.com/area-agency-on-aging/health-education-and-caregiver-workshops or by contacting Amy Comer at 832-681-2575 or amy.comer@h-gac.com.
If you or someone you know is concerned about substance abuse, outreach, screening, assessment, and referral centers (OSARs) can help people find substance use disorder treatment services. The following link can be used to find OSAR sites for your area: hhs.texas.gov/services/mental-health-substance-use/mental-health-substance-use-resources/outreach-screening-assessment-referral.
Take Your Company's Teleworking Program to the Next Level with the Help of Commute Solutions
Employers across the Houston-Galveston region have enabled employees to work from home in response to COVID-19. Many businesses had little time to prepare for, test, and train employees for this new way of working. Commute Solutions, your resource for improving commutes in the Greater Houston area, recognizes the importance of making these work from home efforts sustainable after COVID-19.

For a limited number of employers, Commute Solutions is offering free telework consultation services to companies that want to build a long-term telework program. Services include development of a comprehensive telework plan including policies, implementation schedule, training, and guidance on integrating telework into future business plans.

Interested organizations should contact Deborah Mayfield at deborah.mayfield@h-gac.com or by phone at 713-499-6687.
Gulf Coast Transit District Will Recognize Opening of New Texas City Administration Facility with Virtual Ribbon Cutting on Jan. 14
Representatives of the Gulf Coast Transit District (GCTD) will hold a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 14 to recognize the opening of the new Texas City administration facility.

The 13,200 square-foot facility will be the home of the transit district’s Galveston County fleet, serve as the administrative headquarters of the GCTD Connect Bi-county Transit District, and provide space for the Texas City Emergency Operations Center. The facility includes bus/van parking for 36 vehicles and 275 automobile and motorcycle parking spaces. It will also provide park and ride services, and plans are in the works for the development of a future bus maintenance facility.

The virtual ribbon cutting will feature comments from Congressman Randy Weber, GCTD Chairman and Galveston County Commissioner Stephen Holmes, former Texas City Mayor Matt Doyle, Gulf Coast Center Chief Executive Officer Melissa Meadows, and other notables. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit GulfCoastTransitDistrict.com or view the GCTD news release.
H-GAC is Hiring
Home to more than 7 million people, the Houston-Galveston region is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse regions in the country. Making sure the region remains one of the nation’s leading places to live, work, and prosper doesn’t just happen—it takes planning and partnerships.

If you are looking for a career where you can help make a difference in urban, suburban, and rural communities, the Houston-Galveston Area Council has exciting opportunities for you. For more information or to apply for a job, visit the careers page on H-GAC's website.