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Businesses in Grampian Region should see Houston as the gateway to the United States, Houston City Council member Stephen Costello told delegates attending the inaugural Aberdeen-Houston Gateway event on 19 March, 2013.

Councilman Costello expressed a strong desire to grow connections between Aberdeen and Houston. He was speaking at a business breakfast at Hotel Granduca in Houston which was linked by satellite to a business lunch at the Marcliffe Hotel and Spa. Aberdeen.

A total of  240 attended the event organised by Brett Jackson, managing director of Granite PR, Aberdeen, with the backing of close on 40 sponsors and supporters, including the Grampian-Houston Association.

Aberdeen City Council’s Director of Enterprise, Planning and Infrastructure Mr Gordon McIntosh said the Grampian-Houston Association and the Houston/Grampian Association had played an important role in fostering links over the years since Grampian and Houston formed a Sister City relationship.

Ian Kirk, managing director of  Downhole Products, Aberdeen, also said the Grampian-Houston Association and the British American Business Council Houston had been helpful in establishing contacts. He encouraged anyone seeking to do business in Houston to use the annual Offshore Technology Conference and Exhibition  (OTC) to network and make contacts.  He said Houston was an important city for international business.

Andrew Millar (pictured), H.M. Consul General in Houston, said delegates attending the 2013 OTC in May would find Houston “buzzing” and offering lots of opportunities. Aberdeen always had a “fantastic presence” at OTC. Mr Millar mentioned that around 75,000 people in Texas work for British sourced companies.  

Jim Nixon, chief executive of Varel International Energy Services in Houston, said the Aberdeen-Houston relationship had been important to the growth of his company.

Chief executive and vice-president of GE Oil and Gas, Subsea Systems, Aberdeen, said the oil and gas industry offered tremendous opportunities for growth over the next 20 years but both Aberdeen and Houston needed to be conscious of the need to bring new blood into the industry. He warned of a substantial talent gap ahead and bringing new people would be critical.

Tom Smith, chairman of Aberdeen City and  Shire Economic Forum, chaired the lunch in Aberdeen and actor and media consultant Bob Boudreaux was moderator at the Houston end.  

Event organiser Brett Jackson said he hoped to build on the success of the first Aberdeen-Houston Gateway and the next development would be the introduction of an Aberdeen-Houston app. He thanked all those who had helped him “to turn an idea into a reality.”