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Letter from the CEO: What it means to be a City Builder

August 31, 2017

Witnessing the devastation unfold over the past few days in Texas reminds us that every city, every town, and every community, regardless of its size, or how prosperous it may seem at any given point in time, also carries immense vulnerability. Some cities may be more vulnerable to environmental conditions, while others may carry more risk associated with market fluctuations, or even changes to social dynamics.

The storm that dumped trillions of gallons of gulf water onto places like Houston and Rockport initially emerged as an environmental threat, yet it has rapidly become an unfathomable economic, social, and personal tragedy for millions of families living in Southeast Texas. At the end of day, the impacts associated with every community's prosperity, and its vulnerability are most directly felt by the people who live, work, raise their families, invest their time and their money, and live their lives in a place they call home.

If you are part of the OppSites conversation, then there’s a good chance that you are a real estate professional or a city or economic development leader engaged in the practice of building and rebuilding our communities. As city builders, we have chosen a career that empowers us to shape the future of communities, and with this opportunity comes great responsibility. It is in times like these that we are reminded that every project we envision, design, develop, finance, or approve, no matter how big or how small, has the potential to improve the lives and well-being of countless people. In this regard, all of the work we do as city builders is social work; we build places, and it behooves us to build great places that perform exceptionally well for generations to come.

In the coming days, months, and perhaps years, you will no doubt read wide ranging opinions about how Houston’s regulations, infrastructure, patterns of development, or even specific acts by developers or decision makers may or may not have contributed to the city’s vulnerability. Now is not the time to debate the merits of past projects or policies, but rather to focus our energies on the well-being of the people of Texas and Louisiana. 

Over the next month you will begin to see our product evolve to provide more tools that empower communities and increase dialogue between the civic and real estate sectors. We will continue to make it easier for you to share your goals, and connect with others, so you can get to work on projects that matter. We recognize that everyone who is involved in planning and development shares a deep appreciation for cities and towns of all sizes, and that this extends to the people who live there. We stand with those affected by the ongoing disaster and will continue to look for opportunities to help.

Ian W. Ross