Monday, February 06, 2006

Houston scores good - but not great - on expansions and relocations

From the Houston Business Journal. Houston ranks 19th on the 50 hottest cities for corporate expansions and relocations. It's not a bad ranking, but unfortunately it's substantially below our major competitors for top-tier city status: #2 Phoenix, #3 Atlanta, and #4 Dallas. Texas did better than any other state, with 5 metros on the list. The surprising Nashville has been #1 for two years in a row. Looking at the top 10, the two most common factors seem to be sunbelt cities in right-to-work/nonunion states. I think right weather is definitely a factor: not too hot, not too cold. Phoenix is an exception, but it has the geographical benefit of being the closest alternative if you want out of California. I think Houston gets penalized for the summer heat and humidity, plus possibly our overall negative perception/image that we're all familiar with.

You can also detect a preference for more mid-sized cities in the "sweet spot" previously discussed here.

Here are the official criteria:
Expansion Management surveyed more than 80 prominent site consultants to find out which cities their clients find most attractive for relocation or expansion. Factors they considered include business climate, workforce quality, operating costs, incentive programs, and the ease of working with local political and economic development officials.
The bottom line is that the GHP has its work cut out for it on the 10-year strategic plan if it wants to increase Houston's attractiveness and keep up with Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas, and others. I hope they can get more detailed data on where we fell short, or maybe even do their own survey of the 80 site consultants mentioned. My own guess is that we're on the right track to improve the right things, but it's a matter of execution and getting the word out - something the GHP $30 million marketing campaign might really help.

5 Comments:

At 7:22 PM, February 07, 2006, Anonymous Brian S. said...

When trying to figure out a way to increase the educational attainment for Houston I think we may have to think outside of improving U of H. What about small regional schools that specialize in particular industries. Putting a solid Aerospace school near Clear Lake. A mechanical/petroleum engineering school off the Katy Freeway. Biology/Chemistry/Medical specialty school along 288 near the Med Center. Topping each school out at 3,000-4,000 students. Four year universities with dormatories, not just commuter schools. Possibly even smaller schools that could be a part of a re-development project near downtown, etc...

 
At 10:46 PM, February 07, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

Universities are expensive, so it seems unlikely - esp. when you consider all the overhead for courses and facilities outside of the specialty. But schools sometimes do remote campuses, and online courses are becoming more common. Someone could become a UH student without a lot of commuting to the campus.

 
At 7:23 PM, February 08, 2006, Anonymous Brian S. said...

Over the last few years I've seen enrollment at UTSA and UNT soar while Houston's area colleges not make noticable increases commensurate with our population growth. I think UH is getting the shaft on state funding and they don't seem to be able to break through that stagnation. You may be right about the startup expenses and so that might be a consideration.

Could there be selling point between the GHP, City of Houston, the state's Enterprise funds, and a branch campus of UH that specializes in something like aerospace. What type of synergy could be built by bringing 1000+ students, 100 professors and researchers, related office park and/or mixed use development together?

 
At 12:00 AM, February 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This in combination with one of the lowest educational attainment rates for 24-35 year olds (previous post) are quite troubling. What this means is corporations prefer to move to other cities, and those cities tend to have the educated youth (Atlanta, Charlotte, etc).

Houston has gotten the shaft as far as major universities, with Austin dominating the tech sector with UT. Somehow Dallas has done OK with equally nondescript universities and a much smaller medical center, so whatever theyre doing, we need to do the same and start attracting companies here.

 
At 1:35 PM, February 09, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I agree that UH gets the funding shaft, but the GHP should focus on boosting it and its programs, not trying to create a new school from scratch.

 

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