Press Releases

2017

Houston Film Commission Veteran Honored for Impact on Houston and State Film Industry
Houston, TX (October 27, 2017) – The Houston Film Commission, a division of Houston First Corporation, is pleased to announce Alfred Cervantes has been selected by the Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA) as “Impact Person of the Year.” As deputy director of the Houston Film Commission, Alfred has worked ...

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Houston First Launches "Houston Interactive"
HOUSTON (October 20, 2017) –  Houston First Corporation (HFC) is pleased to partner with Houston Airport System (HAS) to launch “Houston Interactive,” a technology-driven welcome center based in the former Southwest Airlines luggage office at William P. Hobby Airport. Built with touchscreen and LED technology, “Houston Interactive” directly engages ...

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Houston First partners with Levy Convention Centers and Staging Solutions to enhance convention experience
HOUSTON (October 9, 2017) –  Houston First Corporation (HFC) announced it has entered into agreements with Levy Convention Centers as its hospitality partner and Staging Solutions to provide its premier multimedia expertise to the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB), transforming the overall meeting and special event experience.  With its deep ...

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Happy birthday! GRB turns 30
The George R. Brown Convention Center turned 30 on Sept. 26. Even after three decades of big events, this year has been one for the ages. From hosting the NFL Experience during Super Bowl LI, to opening its doors to more than 10,000 evacuees forced from their homes by ...

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Wortham Theater Center closed until May, 2018 after damages from Hurricane Harvey
Houston, TX (September 18, 2017) – Due to the extensive water damage from Hurricane Harvey, Houston First Corporation announced today the Wortham Theater Center will be closed for repairs until May 15, 2018 in a best case scenario. On August 27, water from Hurricane Harvey filled the basement of the ...

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Recovery underway in Theater District facilities damaged by Hurricane Harvey
Houston, TX (September 7, 2017) – Assessments, clean up and repairs are underway at Jones Hall, Wortham Center, and Theater District underground parking, which all sustained water damage from Hurricane Harvey. During this recovery process, the facilities remain closed to staff and the public. Houston First Corporation, which operates the ...

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Houston First Theater District underground parking closed until further notice
Houston, TX (September 3, 2017) - The Theater District parking garages operated by Houston First Corporation are closed until further notice. All three levels of the underground parking garages filled with flood waters from Hurricane Harvey on Sunday and remain inaccessible. Houston First is assessing damages, and working with contractors to ...

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City Council approves 5 new Houston First Board Members, reappoints 3
Houston, TX – July 27, 2017 – The Houston First Corporation is pleased to welcome the following new members to its board of directors: Sofia Adrogué, senior counsel at Gray Reed; Elizabeth Gonzalez Brock, director of local relations at CenterPoint Energy; Ryan Martin, associate at Vinson & Elkins; Jay Tatum ...

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Houston First beefs up management team with new hires
Cynthia Decker named sales VP, Todd Holloman to oversee convention services Houston, TX – June 1, 2017 – Houston First Corporation has brought a pair of seasoned professionals to its staff with the appointments of Cynthia F. Decker as vice president of sales revenue and marketing strategy and B. Todd ...

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Houston First posts big jump in supplier diversity numbers
Diversity participation surpasses program goal with increase of 9 percent Houston, TX – May 25, 2017 – Houston First Corporation has experienced its biggest increase in supplier diversity numbers since the program began four years ago.  Participation by small, minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) for 2016 was measured ...

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Houston First, Nissan partner on new charging station
A new charging station for electric cars is now available in Houston First Corporation's parking complex in the Theater District as the result of a partnership with Nissan Motor Company. Nissan has provided -- at no cost to Houston First or its contract parking customers -- a zero-emission DC fast charger ...

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Travel and tourism – we’ve come a long way, baby
By Sylvester TurnerAs summer draws near it brings to mind the time when travel was almost exclusively a summertime activity. Those of us of a certain age know this.In Houston, the landscape has changed. Travel and tourism is all grown up. Attracting visitors to our city is a fulltime ...

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George R. Brown’s David Osterhout ready to retire
Veteran manager  Dave O spearheaded three decades of growth     HOUSTON – David Osterhout, known universally as simply Dave O, is turning in his keys after nearly three decades as the facility manager for one of America’s largest meeting places, Houston First’s George R.  Brown Convention Center.Osterhout, 69, retires ...

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Record 20 million visitors traveled to Houston in 2016
Milestone Goal Achieved Two Years Ahead of Schedule  Houston, TX – March 22, 2017 –  More than 20 million visitors traveled to Houston in 2016, a figure that reflects a new record for the city and achieves a benchmark goal two years ahead of schedule. An estimated 20.5 million ...

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Maureen Haley promoted in HFC tourism role
Named to direct strategic initiatives for Visit Houston brand    Tourism industry veteran Maureen Haley has been promoted to oversee strategic initiatives for Visit Houston, the tourism brand for Houston First Corporation. In her new role, Haley will develop and execute initiatives designed to increase leisure tourism and ensure consistency and ...

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Houston Sets New Convention Sales Record for Second Straight Year
Super Bowl LI Used to Help Win New Business HOUSTON (February 9, 2017) – On the heels of helping host a highly successful Super Bowl LI that focused global attention on the city, Houston First Corporation announced today that the organization booked a new record number of room nights tied ...

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George R. Brown retains its LEED Silver status
Downtown Houston convention center maintains ‘green’ course    HOUSTON – With apologies to Kermit the Frog, it’s not easy being green.And when you’re a convention center that dwarfs the world’s largest ocean liner, the barriers to being environmentally sustainable only multiply.With 1.8 million square feet under roof and ...

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Emerging Houston Designers Prepare to Launch During Super Bowl
Pop-up shop aims to promote the creativity, diversity and innovation of luxury goods designed and produced locally HOUSTON (January 6, 2017) – Houston First Corporation (HFC) has partnered with seasoned fashion influencer Sydney Dao of Squid Inc. to create LAUNCH, an exclusive pop-up shop to showcase Houston’s growing and thriving ...

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HFC awards funds in second year of tourism matching grants
For the second year in a row  the Houston First Corporation is awarding matching grants for tourism-related programs developed by local and regional organizations through the Tourism Marketing Matching Grant Program (MGP). This initiative, designed to bring together tourism organizations in Greater Houston and surrounding areas, is part of a ...

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2016

John Gonzalez promoted to vice president at George R. Brown CC
One-time mailroom clerk rises to VP at Houston First's downtown convention center    Houston, TX – December 6, 2016 – John Gonzalez, the longtime director of event and guest services at the  George R. Brown Convention Center, has been promoted to the new vice president position at Houston First Corporation’s ...

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67-foot mobile greets convention-goers, Avenida Houston visitors
Commissioned artwork gives George R. Brown pleasing new aesthetic Artist Ed Wilson, above, is flanked from left to right by HFC's Christine West, Houston Art Alliance's Sara Kellner and lighting designer Christina Gianelli. HOUSTON -- Ed Wilson’s Soaring In The Clouds, an artwork commissioned by Houston First Corporation for ...

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Bobby V.P. Singh takes seat on HFC board of directors
HOUSTON – Longtime community liaison and Houston businessman Bobby V.P. Singh has been appointed to the board of directors of Houston First Corporation. Mayor Sylvester Turner nominated Singh to the post and City Council confirmed the appointment on November 9. Singh succeeds Cecil C. “C.C.” Conner Jr ...

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Houston First opens new downtown building Partnership Tower
HFC also honors outgoing chairman Ric CampoHOUSTON - Houston First Corporation this week officially unveiled its new offices in the recently completed Partnership Tower. Houston First is responsible for  construction of the 127,000-square-foot office tower adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center Downtown. Located at 701 Avenida de las ...

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Brian Stonesifer Wins First Terry Beutler Award
 Visit Houston client services manager honored for spirit of volunteerism   Houston, TX – October 4, 2016 –  Brian Stonesifer, client services manager for Houston First Corporation’s sales and marketing brand Visit Houston, is the first recipient of the Terry Beutler Award for volunteerism.Mike Waterman, president of the Greater ...

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Annette Goldberg Named HFC Employee of the Year
 Houston First awards top honor to customer service-oriented vice president    Houston, TX – October 4, 2016 – Annette Goldberg, Houston First’s vice president of human resources, has been named the local-government corporation’s  Employee of the YearHouston First CEO Dawn Ullrich made the announcement at the corporation’s Employee Service Awards ...

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Houston First's Reginald Randolph named Parking Innovator
Theater District Parking GM Named Innovator of the Year by National Association  Houston, TX – September 29, 2016 – Reginald Randolph, Houston First Corporation’s highly decorated general manager of Theater District Parking, continues to be recognized as a leader in the industry after chalking up a major national award. The ...

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We’ve Moved! Houston First Has A New Home
Houston First Corporation and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau are now in their new home in Partnership Tower, the 10-story office building that connects to the north end of the George R. Brown Convention Center. The new building looks out at Minute Maid Park, Discovery Green and the ...

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Ensemble Theatre Honors Houston First
More than 600 people celebrated the Ensemble Theatre's 40th anniversary gala at the Hilton Americas-Houston, Saturday, August 20. It was a big night for the Ensemble and for Houston First, which was presented with the Corporate Partner of the Year award by the legendary theatre company. Houston's Mayor Sylvester ...

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Houston First Announces Public Art Initiative in Convention District
Houston, TX - July 26, 2016 - Downtown Houston will soon expand its cultural landscape within the George R. Brown Convention Center and Partnership Tower along the transforming convention district, known as Avenida Houston. A series of ten art installations by local Houston artists will be placed throughout the buildings as part ...

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Houston First Announces New Culinary Offerings In Convention District
Avenida Houston transforms downtown into cultural destination Houston, TX – July 21, 2016 –  Downtown Houston will soon expand its culinary landscape along the Avenida de las Americas. A series of restaurants will open on the ground floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center and in the forthcoming Marriott ...

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Roksan Okan-Vick named Houston First executive
Houston First has named Roksan Okan-Vick to a new position that will provide the local-government corporation a greater leadership role in region-wide projects that will make Houston a more attractive city for both visitors and residents. As senior vice president, Okan-Vick will provide strategies and other means for facilitating and ...

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New Greenlink Route Launches in March
Today, the Downtown District announced the creation of a new evening and weekend route for their very successful Greenlink circulator service.  Through a partnership between the Downtown District, Houston First Corporation and BG Group, the downtown community can utilize the environmentally friendly buses to get them to popular downtown ...

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Arts veteran Christine West appointed to HFC post
HOUSTON – Houston First Corporation has hired local arts administrator Christine West to develop an arts and heritage program for the local-government organization. "Christine will organize and present exhibitions and special events at the George R. Brown Convention Center and our other Houston First properties," said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO ...

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Roger Harris to direct Houston First external affairs
HOUSTON – Houston First has hired Roger Harris as director of external affairs to expand the local-government corporation’s community outreach. "Roger will strengthen our strategic relationships with businesses, organizations and institutions," said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First. "He will also concentrate on enhancing our diversity outreach with ...

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Houston First appoints Florez to Visit Houston tourism
Houston First Corporation has appointed hospitality industry veteran Pilar Florez as director of tourism for Visit Houston. "Pilar has real-world, global experience and that’s a major asset as we strive to have the world think of Houston as a premier destination city," said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of ...

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Houston First/VisitHouston hires industry veteran Pam Summers
Pamela Summers, a 35-year veteran of the convention and tourism industry, has been hired by VisitHouston as the Director of Tourism Partnerships. She will report to Senior Vice President of Tourism, Jorge Franz. Summers comes to Houston First after more than 14 years as president of the Bay Area Houston ...

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Paul Allison to head Houston First philanthropy efforts
Houston First Corporation has hired veteran fundraiser Paul K. Allison to help develop philanthropic collaboration and resources to fund new initiatives. "Paul has more than 20 years of experience in this area and will be a big asset for us," said Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First. "In ...

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2015 a Record Year for Houston in Convention Sales, Web and Tourism
HOUSTON (January 27, 2016) – Houston First Corporation booked a record number of room nights tied to conventions and meetings last year, just as the organization reached new heights in website visitation and tourism-related room nights.The record successes came in the first full year of the alignment between Houston ...

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Houston First Awards $250,000 in Marketing Funds to New Tourism Projects
HOUSTON (Jan. 21, 2016) - Fourteen newly formed tourism initiatives will receive a total of $250,000 in grant funding from Houston First Corporation as part of its renewed commitment to grow leisure travel to the city and surrounding region. Organizations as varied as the Alley Theatre, the Children's Museum ...

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NEWLY NAMED MOSBACHER BRIDGE TAKES ITS PLACE IN THEATER DISTRICT
HOUSTON – Preston Street Bridge – once the main artery over Buffalo Bayou that early farmers used to bring produce and other wares into a bustling young city more than 150 years ago – was renamed in honor of the late Robert A. Mosbacher Sr. Wednesday in a ceremony next to Wortham Theater ...

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2015

Parkview Baptist School graduation ceremony canceled
HOUSTON – The graduation ceremony that had been announced by Parkview Baptist School for Wednesday will not take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center.Houston First, which operates the convention center, terminated a contract with the school to hold the ceremony after the school was unable to meet required ...

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HOUSTON FIRST REFURBISHES BROWN THEATER SEATS, TUNNEL LEADING INTO GARAGE. 
HOUSTON – Wortham Theater Center, a centerpiece in Houston’s downtown Theater District, spent the summer receiving a facelift in preparation for the 2015-2016 performing arts season. Crews at Wortham Center, home to Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera, finished a restoration of each seat in Alice and George Brown Theater ...

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Reginald Randolph promoted to run Houston First parking
HOUSTON - Reginald D. Randolph, a fixture in Houston First’s Theater District Parking facilities for more than two decades, has been promoted to the top spot at the 3,400-car garage in the heart of downtown Houston.He succeeds Lannie Lesher, who retired in February after 24 years as director ...

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Mike Waterman named president of GHCVB/exec veep of Houston First
HOUSTON – Mike Waterman, a hospitality veteran with more than 26 years in the industry, has been named the new president of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and executive vice president of Houston First Corp.  Waterman joins the GHCVB/HFC from Marriott International, where he currently serves as vice ...

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Houston First unveils a new Starbucks experience in Hilton Americas lobby
HOUSTON – Officials with Houston First Corporation and Hilton Americas-Houston hotel today announced plans to convert part of the hotel’s ground-floor lobby into what is expected to become one of the largest coffee retail outlets in Texas.Houston First has entered into a license agreement with Starbucks Coffee to sell ...

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Griffin, Wulfe Companies seek restaurants, sidewalk cafes, retail in front of George R. Brown
HOUSTON – As many as seven new retail, restaurant, sidewalk cafes and entertainment venues will be added to the neighborhood surrounding the George R. Brown Convention Center as part of a bold streetscape makeover in the newly revitalized eastern section of downtown Houston. Fred Griffin, chairman and CEO of Griffin Partners ...

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Texas Tribune, Houston First to host preview of 84th legislative session
HOUSTON – The first in a series of four panel discussions focused on the debates of the 84th legislative session and their impact on the Houston area will take place on Thursday, February. 12, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Wortham Center’s Grand Foyer at 501 ...

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2014

Veteran journalist Carolyn Campbell joins Houston First
HOUSTON - Longtime Houston journalist Carolyn Campbell has joined Houston First Corporation as director of communications.Drawing on more than two decades in local television news, Campbell will focus on developing the corporation’s Houston First News Network programming and other video productions.“Carolyn brings to us time-tested experience and a ...

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George R. Brown CC first site in Houston to dispense bitcoin
HOUSTON - Bitcoin, also known as virtual currency or cryptocurrency, is seen by some as the Next Big Thing. Are you ready for future of global currency? If you are, the first place in Houston – and currently the only convention center in the world – to offer access to digital money is ...

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Houston First unveils email, website for Convention District
Houston First Corporation has launched two online initiatives to help motorists and other visitors navigate Houston’s rapidly changing downtown Convention District. Houston First, which manages the George R. Brown Convention Center and a number of other municipal properties, has developed an email message system called BUILD that notifies subscribers ...

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Jonathan Newport named director of government affairs
HOUSTON – Jonathan Newport has joined Houston First Corporation as director of government affairs. In his new position, Newport will focus on issues at the city and county level and their impact on HFC operations.Newport joins HFC after working at City Hall for eight years as a council aide, first ...

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Houston First’s Sharon Adams joins Super Bowl effort
HOUSTON – Sharon Adams, chief communications officer for Houston First Corporation, has joined the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee as senior vice president for corporate affairs. The temporary assignment began October 1 and will continue through the 2017 Super Bowl.Adams is responsible for developing the Host Committee’s local outreach ...

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Debra Justice named new manager of Jones Hall
HOUSTON – Debra J. Justice, a veteran administrator of municipal facilities in Lubbock, has been named manager of Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. She assumed her new duties on Monday, October 6. Justice succeeds Vivian Montejano, who has assumed a similar position at Wortham Center, a sister facility beneath the ...

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Houston First Welcomes 4 New Board Members
HOUSTON – Four new members have been appointed to the board of directors of Houston First, the local-government corporation that operates the city’s downtown George R. Brown Convention Center and more than a dozen municipal properties. Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker nominated and City Council confirmed the appointments of Phyllis ...

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Houston First Issues RFP for Hotel Development
HOUSTON – Houston First Corporation (HFC) is seeking a team to develop and design a hotel that would be located on top of the new parking garage and office building planned just north of the George R. Brown Convention Center. A request for proposals issued by HFC says the team would ...

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Houston First partners with Zipcar for car share locations
HOUSTON – Houston First Corporation, which operates the city’s finest convention and theater facilities, is branching out to offer the convenience of car sharing from Zipcar by adding two Zipcar locations downtown. Houston First is dedicating space for Zipcars in the Theater District Parking complex and the Convention District garage ...

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Houston First, Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau Join Forces
Houston First Corporation (HFC) and the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) have officially joined forces as a single, clear voice for the City of Houston. The proposal for the structural alignment of the two organizations has been approved by the GHCVB’s executive committee and board of directors ...

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Vivian Montejano leaving Jones Hall for Wortham GM post
HOUSTON – Vivian Montejano, whose long career in facility management began nearly 30 years ago as an administrative assistant to former Houston Mayor Kathryn J. Whitmire, has been named general manager of Wortham Theater Center. For Montejano, the appointment means a move across the street in Houston’s Theater District. Previously ...

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