Volume 20, Issue 8 - Friday, February 25, 2022
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
A changing world is never completely predictable … but it is not hard to identify a few emerging trends that have already resulted in massive change - change destined to impact the future. Success for individuals, businesses, and governmental entities will depend on how quickly new trends and changes are recognized … because some adapting will be required.

Most recognizable changes are predominately the result of pandemic trauma, population growth, technology innovation, and political discourse. But, despite their origin, they will significantly impact how we live, how businesses remain successful and how government will serve citizens in the future. Recognizing the shifts and adapting quickly is wise because surprises are rarely good. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to let change slip up slowly on unsuspecting citizens, taxpayers, organizations, industry leaders, and public officials.

As a way to avoid surprise, here are a few strong trends worthy of note.

Growth in the private sector will be languid in 2022 and likely sluggish in 2023. Jobs will require higher skills, and technology advances will dominate a majority of individual, industry, and governmental decisions. Demand will remain strong, but supply chain disruption will continue. Political unease will not cease. In spite of the negatives, government spending will escalate and bump up to historic levels over the next two to four years.

The Texas Department of Transportation’s statewide plan for transportation projects was recently updated to reflect an $11.5 billion increase from last year’s forecast. The 2023 Unified Transportation Program (UTP) accounts for additional funding from federal and state sources.

Federal additions and adjustments tied to the Infrastructure and Jobs Act constitute $8 billion of the UTP’s additional funding. The remainder of additional funding for the 2023 forecast comes from legislative activity at the state level. Actions taken at the state level to increase funding include authorization of $2 billion for the Texas Mobility Fund, a $1.1 billion increase in the Texas Emission Reduction Program (TERP), and the state’s Propositions 1 and 7.

The total $11.5 billion addition will enable funding increases for Bridge & Safety program supplements as well as TxDOT’s maintenance, preservation, connectivity, and mobility needs. The 2023 UTP forecast also accounts for potential increases for the statewide ferry program ($15 million per year) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) program ($5 million per year). Although the UTP does not offer the same guarantees as a budget because it is based on potential revenue rather than available funding, the updated version offers insight into TxDOT’s funding priorities for the next 10 years.

The Texas Transportation Commission approves the UTP annually, and TxDOT publishes the approved UTP each year. Commissioners recently received an update on the plan and are scheduled to vote on it in August.
Regional Transportation Council (RTC) members selected rail as the only mode they will advance for federal environmental review as part of the Dallas-Fort Worth High-Speed Transportation Connections Study exploring technologies along the Interstate 30 corridor.

Based on the ongoing study by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) that had narrowed high-speed alternatives to rail and hyperloop technologies, members chose not to advance hyperloop to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and instead shifted their studies to a parallel path for technology certification and demonstration. Hyperloop currently lacks both certification and demonstration status.

RTC’s existing policy calls for three stations and a one-seat ride on a high-speed route along Interstate 30 connecting Dallas and Fort Worth (DFW).

The RTC is interested in maintaining the momentum of the study’s Phase 1 efforts, including public and private stakeholder consensus, and maintaining early opportunities for private investors and operators in high-speed rail to gain interest in the Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth corridor.

Phase 2 completion is expected in two years and will include preliminary engineering and environmental documentation with the goal of obtaining a Record of Decision or Finding of No Significant Impact in tandem with early coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration. In addition, RTC will seek continued coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation, local governments, and stakeholders.

Although the RTC is not including hyperloop in the federal NEPA process, the council directed staff to continue to monitor hyperloop technology advancement through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Technology Readiness Levels index as identified in Phase 1 of the study.

According to meeting documents, the NCTCOG has received interest from hyperloop companies to develop test/certification facilities within the region.
Fredericksburg councilmembers approved a revised request for proposals (RFP) to be issued for the development of a hotel conference center.

In its solicitation document, the city indicates a desire to contract with a firm not only to develop the hotel conference center in Fredericksburg but also to finance, design, construct, and operate the facility.

An updated feasibility study released on January 25 proposes a conference center hotel with a minimum of 150 rooms, 8,000-square-foot multipurpose ballroom, 4,000 square feet of meeting room space, lobbies, production kitchen, and other support spaces. Parking for at least 150 spaces, restaurant, lounge, outdoor pool, exercise room, and business center also are required.

Development partner teams should include an architect, builder, and equity investors. Developers may recommend hotel brands and operators, but final selections will occur after the city selects a development partner.

Fredericksburg’s city manager said the city would offer the standard incentives available to any hotel project, which include 10-year rebates of state sales tax and the state’s portion of Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) revenues.

RFP submissions are due by April 22.
Ector County ISD trustees called a $398.25 million bond election for May 7 comprising two propositions to fund new school construction and maintenance.

Proposition A would provide $130.25 million for maintenance and life cycle repairs to the district’s aging facilities.

Work would include electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire and life safety, and other replacements. The average age of the district’s education facilities is 51 years. Three facilities are more than 80 years old.

It also would authorize $70 million for construction of a new 150,000-square-foot Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center. The building would feature classroom and lab space for programs such as welding, construction, health science, automation and process technology, HVAC, plumbing, and other trades.

In addition, Proposition A would fund $15 million in classroom technology upgrades including campus audio, visual, and multimedia refreshes or additions.

Proposition B would finance construction of a new $183 million comprehensive high school. Designed for a 2,500- to 2,800-student capacity, the district’s third high school is estimated at 400,000 square feet.
Ron Nirenberg
City of San Antonio
Public career highlights and education: First elected in 2017, I was re-elected to a third term on May 1, 2021. I was first elected to represent District 8 on the San Antonio City Council in 2013. In 2020, I successfully championed SA Ready to Work, a four-year workforce development program approved by voters without raising the tax rate. I also led the city’s ambitious affordable housing program. I graduated summa cum laude from Trinity University and received a master’s degree in communications magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania.

What I like best about public service is: Public service provides an opportunity to make our communities a better place. Specifically, by serving as mayor, I relish the chance to make San Antonio a city that offers the economic and quality of life opportunities that will motivate my son to pursue his career and raise his family here.

The best advice I’ve received is: My grandfather told me, “You should only buy something once.” His message was: It pays to invest in quality rather than fall into false economy. I have taken that lesson to heart not just for material things, but also in making life decisions. Aiming high is important.

My favorite way to de-stress is: I lift weights several times a week.

People might be surprised to know that I: Originally planned to become a sportswriter covering the Boston Red Sox. I was born near Boston. After I met my wife, Erika Prosper, at the University of Pennsylvania, those plans went by the wayside.

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of San Antonio is: It is the perfect place to make a long-term investment. Businesses and entrepreneurs who are looking for a place to build and grow may be able to find flashier locations, but San Antonio is here for the long game. In addition to San Antonio’s fantastic quality of life and unique cultural atmosphere, we have nurtured an economic landscape that enables companies to flourish.
The University of Houston System will host a pre-submittal conference at 1 p.m. March 3 as it seeks architectural and engineering services for the design of a new building for the College of Technology at its Sugar Land campus.

Planned for 80,000 square feet, the building will house classroom and classroom laboratory space, special class open laboratories, and research lab space. It also will include office and associated support space.

The total project cost is $52.4 million. Design work is scheduled to begin in July with construction starting in July 2023. Final completion is anticipated in December 2024.
VIA Metropolitan Transit (VIA) achieved a major milestone with the confirmation of federal support for the proposed Advanced Rapid Transit North-to-South (ART N/S) line along San Pedro Avenue.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released an initial favorable rating for the $320 million project.

The proposed bus rapid transit line will travel from the San Antonio International Airport in the north, go through downtown San Antonio, and terminate at Steves Avenue in the south.

Approximately 75 percent of the project alignment includes dedicated transit lanes. The proposed project will feature branded stations with off-board fare collection, next bus messaging, public announcement systems, bike parking, and safety features such as security cameras and lighting. In addition, VIA will implement transit signal priority and procure 17 new low/no emission vehicles with level boarding.

VIA will gather public input on the proposed improvements throughout 2022 to help shape the ultimate design and concept that moves forward for potential federal funding.

This milestone reflects the first time in history that a project from the San Antonio area has been rated as part of FTA’s Capital Investments Grant (CIG) program.

The CIG rating will be updated before FTA and VIA may reach a final funding agreement. Federal funding of almost $158.1 million would complement local funding from a partial 1-cent sales tax allocated to VIA, beginning in 2026. The current project schedule shows the ART N/S opening for service in mid-2027.
Strategic Partnerships Inc. President and CEO Mary Scott Nabers will be discussing public-private partnerships (P3s) at the Future of Cities 2022 digital event on March 3. The free online event will be from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CST.

CityAge and Communitech are bringing local government, tech founders, and business together at the conference to explore how municipal governments and the world’s best innovators can explore, define, and solve today’s complex challenges, and build the future of cities through collaboration.

Event discussion themes will include:
  • What trends and technological developments are shaping the future of cities?  
  • How can municipalities, tech innovators, and private industry approach urban problem solving collaboratively?  
  • What is the importance of cybersafety as cities digitize?  
  • What roles do data governance and privacy play in unlocking innovation?  

Nabers will be joined at noon CST by Kimberly Williams, chief innovation officer of the Metropolitan Transit Authority in Harris County, and Emily Yates, Smart City director of the city of Philadelphia, for a panel discussion on “Public-Private Partnerships to build the Future’s Cities: What Works and What Doesn’t?”

Panelists will assess successes and failures of various P3s and share how other innovators and city leaders can learn from these examples.

Registration is now available.
The Georgetown City Council unanimously approved a 10-year parks master plan that identifies multiple improvements and additions to the city’s parks and recreation inventory including a recreation center and a new park on the southeast side of the city.

Working with city consultants, the Georgetown Parks and Recreation Advisory Board helped develop the plan that also calls for more trails, a skate park, and improvements and expansions to existing facilities.

Recommendations laid out in the plan vary from upgrades the city may implement relatively quickly using existing funding — such as updating existing parks and adding parks to city-owned property — to projects that will require phases and potential bond elections.

One proposed project will involve renovating or expanding the city’s aging recreation center or building a new recreation facility. Renovations would reimagine the existing gym, adult fitness area, multipurpose rooms, senior center and other amenities.

An expansion would allow for more adult fitness and gym offerings, a new outdoor fitness green and water sprayground, more patio space, and leisure water activities.

If the city were to consider a new recreation center, the plan recommends a feasibility study to identify facility program elements and associated space needs, total project budget, and project timeline.

Major components of a new 75,000- to 90,000-square-foot recreation center could include a gymnasium, fitness areas with weights and cardio equipment, group exercise rooms, walk/jog track, indoor playground, classrooms, esports lounge, and events hall.
The city of Houston issued a request for information (RFI) to gather vendor feedback on a comprehensive tool for internal communication email management.

Houston Information Technology Services compile the full city email list from two sources and combine it into a single spreadsheet. Emails for the Houston Police Department flow through a single distribution email address, which is included in the list. Non-employee addresses (conference rooms and resource addresses) are filtered out.

Desired features of the email management solution are an:
  • Email builder tool. 
  • Administration. 
  • Analytics. 
  • Email lists. 

RFI submissions are due by March 2.
Meacham International Airport in Fort Worth will host a pre-bid conference at 11 a.m. March 9 for several airfield improvements.

Through the Texas Department of Transportation, the airport issued a notice to bidders for work involving reconstruction of Taxilane J and aprons D and C to replace failed pavement in these areas.

In the city of Fort Worth’s 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Plan, the project is budgeted for $5 million. The Federal Aviation Administration awarded a $4.5 million grant to help the city finance the project.

More than $31.15 million in capital improvement projects are planned for the airport over the next three years including maintenance repairs and equipment and vehicle purchases.
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) staff and engineers presented acute traffic safety issues and trends in the Texas-Mexico border region and beyond at the first Border Trade Advisory Committee (BTAC) meeting of 2022.

In a presentation to BTAC on February 24, TxDOT highlighted the need for local and regional transportation authorities to work collaboratively to address their unique transportation safety challenges.

TxDOT staff also presented an overview of Phase II of the Border Trade Master Plan, approved by the Texas Transportation Commission in March 2021.

Some of the plan’s key recommendations are:
  • 22 policies to advance borderwide transportation goals. 
  • 153 programs to address Texas-Mexico transportation infrastructure needs. 
  • 661 targeted, location-specific projects to achieve policy objectives, with a combined estimated cost of $37.4 billion.

These objectives will support local, state, and federal officials from the U.S. and Mexico in their efforts to improve operational efficiency in facilitating the movement of commercial traffic across Texas’ 28 land border crossings with Mexico.
U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Administrator Nuria Fernandez highlighted the role of transit in the nation’s future during her visit to Austin this week.

Speaking at a joint conference of the eight-state South West Transit Association (SWTA) and Texas Transit Association (TTA) on February 23, Fernandez said the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will enable transit agencies to build modern, equitable infrastructure.

During her stop in Austin, she also toured Capital Metro’s Saltillo Plaza and Eastside Bus Plaza onboard one of the agency’s electric buses.

In his speech at the conference, CapMetro President and CEO Randy Clarke said that any increase in ridership in turn benefits the environment. He also identified investment in transit as an investment in people and the community.
Nadia Chandler Hardy joins the Strategic Partnerships, Inc (SPI) team with nearly two decades of local government experience. Her work as a public administration executive, an organizational strategist, and a critical thinker, honed her government skills and established her as an innovative leader.

Nadia’s experience most recently culminated in the dual role of Assistant City Manager and Chief Resilience Officer for the city of Dallas. While serving in that capacity she oversaw a budget of $125 million. She supervised all 1,500 employees working across the Departments of Code Compliance Services, Dallas Animal Services, Customer Relations, Resilience, Homeless Solutions, Community Care, and the Office of Equity and Human Rights. Prior to holding that position, Nadia was a part of the city’s Executive Leadership Team.

For the five preceding years before moving to Dallas, Nadia worked with the city of Tacoma, Washington. She began as assistant to the City Manager in 2012. Two years later, her role was expanded to include Director of Neighborhood and Community Services for the Tacoma area. Her dual responsibilities also included supervising daily operations for a department of 56 employees. In that position, she was charged with managing a biennial investment portfolio of more than $45 million for human/social services and community mobilization efforts.

Nadia attended Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in political science as well as a Master of Public Administration. She has also completed professional training courses through the International City/County Management Association’s Senior Executive Institute (SEI) and NFBPA Executive Leadership Institute (ELI).
The city of Houston took a step toward its goal of converting all non-emergency, light-duty municipal vehicles to electric by 2030 with City Council approval on February 23 to purchase 97 battery electric vehicles (EVs)

Houston’s EV purchase will replace internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles that are aging out of its fleet. The acquisition is guided by the city’s Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve regional air quality, and build climate resilience.

The Fleet Management Department, working in coordination with the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability, is spearheading the city’s EV initiative. Houston recently partnered with a private company to apply state-of-the-art methods in life cycle analysis and optimization modeling to determine financial and environmental impacts of investment decisions in EVs and associated infrastructure.

Based on this study, electrifying the municipal fleet will generate significant savings from lower energy and maintenance costs, and estimated savings are expected to grow as the cost difference between ICE vehicles and battery electric vehicles continues to diminish.

The purchased electric vehicles will be deployed throughout the city of Houston. City departments adopting electric vehicles from this purchase are:
  • Houston Airport System. 
  • Department of Neighborhoods. 
  • Houston Health. 
  • Solid Waste Management. 
  • Administration and Regulatory Affairs. 
  • Houston Police. 
  • Houston Fire. 
  • Houston Parks and Recreation. 
  • Fleet Management. 
  • General Services. 

Data collected on the operation of the EVs in the different city applications will be used to optimize additional EV deployments.
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Larry Long to the Texas Facilities Commission on February 22.

Long is the owner and managing member of a private debt and preferred equity company and has a real estate license.

He is a member of the Finance Commission of Texas and the former chairman and former member of the American Diabetes Association Board of Directors.
The Denton City Council selected Sara Hensley as permanent city manager, pending final contract approval. She had been serving as interim city manager since February 2021 after former City Manager Todd Hileman accepted a position as a city manager in California.

Hensley most recently served as Denton’s deputy city manager. Before that, she was parks and recreation director for the cities of Austin, Phoenix, and Virginia Beach.
Chris Trotter’s deeply rooted background in education makes him an asset to the SPI team. He is a fifth-generation educator and the former Superintendent of Schools at Cleveland ISD, a fast-growth school district that serves approximately 11,000 students.

Chris was recognized during his 31-year career in public education as an advocate for students and a leader in managing strategic growth. After beginning his career teaching math and coaching in Birdville ISD, he accepted administrative and executive positions in various school districts. This included positions at R.L. Turner and Creekview High Schools in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, L.D. Bell High School in Hurst-Euless Bedford ISD, Denison High School, Smithson Valley High School, and as the Chief Administrative Officer in Tomball ISD.

He was featured in Texas Monthly for his work managing the hypergrowth of Cleveland ISD’s student body, and during his Texas career, he worked extensively with both the Texas Legislature and Congress in efforts to ensure adequate and equitable education funding.

Chris currently serves on the advisory boards of Fast Growth Coalition and Equity Center, which help develop policy initiatives for public education school systems. Most of his immediate family also works in education.

Chris holds an undergraduate degree and math certification from Texas A&M University. He earned his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is preparing to contract new management of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in several of its districts.

TxDOT recently released a 60-day pre-solicitation notice for the department’s ITS maintenance, replacement, and repair program. The preliminary notice highlights ITS-related needs that TxDOT aims to address with an eventual contract award.

These needs include upgrading, repairing, inspecting, and replacing existing ITS equipment in the TxDOT districts of San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Laredo, Odessa, Pharr, and San Angelo.

Notice of an official solicitation will follow shortly after the pre-solicitation, which expires April 15.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from February 18-24:

Governor's Commission
for Women
Gina Bellinger - San Antonio
Gita Bolt - Houston
Maru De La Paz - Harlingen
Denise Castillo-Rhodes - Houston
(10 reappointed)
Nathali Parker - New Braunfels (named chair)
Amy Henderson - Amarillo
(named vice chair)
Cynthia Conroy - El Paso
Sasha Crane - McAllen
Karen Harris - San Marcos
Ashlee Kleinert - Dallas
Jinous Rouhani - Austin
Catherine Susser - Dallas
Patsy Wesson - Fort Worth
Laura Koenig Young - Tyler

Capital Project Oversight
Advisory Commission 
Phil Adams - Bryan
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week:

  • Texas Department of Information Resources – Contract Specialist V

  • Texas Department of Motor Vehicles – General Counsel IV

  • Texas Water Development Board – Budget Officer

  • Texas Department of State Health Services – Planning and Intelligence Specialist

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Multifamily Program Specialist

  • City of Dallas – Water Conservation Manager
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