Invest in Our Future

Jennifer KellerAdvocacy, President's Message, Workforce Development

On January 15, the GHBA hosted an Installation Celebration at the JW Marriott Hotel. It was an immense pleasure to participate in this event where we installed the 2022 board of directors and recognized the outstanding contributions of GHBA’s “Of the Year” award recipients.

In attendance at the event were eight special guests, students from Texas A&M’s Master of Land and Property Development Program. The students were invited as part of this year’s Inspire the Future initiative which focuses on connecting students who want to work in our industry with members who are willing to “invest” their time networking with students in a meaningful way that guides them along a path toward future employment within our industry.

This student networking initiative will be expanded over the next few months to include students from other schools and additional events throughout the year, including the upcoming Economic Forecast Luncheon on February 1. On behalf of the GHBA, I would like to extend a special thank you to Howard Hughes Corporation, Taylor Morrison, Caldwell Companies, Hillwood Communities, Hamilton Thomas Homes, and our Past Presidents for hosting our first students at the Installation Celebration.


I am looking forward to a busy February with the Economic Forecast Luncheon, council meetings including the installation event for Professional Women in Building’s inaugural board of directors, and NAHB’s International Builders’ Show.

We are so fortunate to live and work in the great State of Texas and the greater Houston metropolitan statistical area. Houston boasts the world’s largest medical complex and the country’s largest export market. We rank third among cities in the United States for the greatest number of Fortune 500 companies. We have the eleventh largest tech workforce in the country, greater than in Austin or Denver. If the Houston MSA were an independent nation, we would be the 27th largest economy in the world, behind Belgium ($529.7 billion) and ahead of Nigeria ($448.1 billion).1

That said, we face an increasing number of challenges. The cost and availability of materials, labor and lots remain top issues of concern. Lumber pricing is once again particularly high and volatile. Reports from NAHB suggest that construction materials have increased 19% since December 2020 and the ever-tightening labor market has driven wages up 7% in the past year. Inflation is experiencing the largest year-over-year gains since the 1980s. Interest rates are expected to increase modestly throughout the year. And some governing agencies are promoting tighter regulation in several areas that impact our business.

We need pro-housing policymakers to take action now more than ever. We need them to fight over-regulation and to work on sustainable supply chain solutions.

On that note, I would like to share with you that on January 18, I joined representatives from the Texas Association of Builders HOMEPAC and 17 other real estate organizations across Texas at an event to endorse Governor Greg Abbott for re-election. The organizations in attendance were very complimentary of Governor Abbott’s views on homebuilding being an essential business, regulatory constraint, and tax control.

Homebuilding and real estate industry professionals gathered in support of Governor Greg Abbott’s re-election campaign. aPictured (front, L to R): GHBA CEO Aimee Bertrand; Governor Greg Abbott; GHBA President Jennifer Keller; (back) GHBA Volume Builders Committee Chair and TAB Treasurer Brett Martin, Tilson Homes; and TAB President Gene Lantrip, Lantrip’s Custom Homes in Abilene, TX.

It is incumbent upon those of us who work in this industry to do our part to support political advocacy efforts in Houston and Texas. The most important thing we can do as individual members of the GHBA, besides voting, is to consider donating to our PAC. Any contribution, no matter how big or small, helps our advocacy team fight for our industry and “invest” in Houston’s future. 

About the Author

Jennifer Keller

Article by 2022 GHBA Board President Jennifer Keller, president and COO of Hamilton Thomas Homes. Keller has more than 25 years of experience in home building, land acquisition, land development, and land development / water resources engineering. Keller is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Texas who holds a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University.

1 Source: Greater Houston Partnership 2021 Economic Highlights