Charities, hot industrial dev, global trade, CBD rank, selling toll roads, police flying eyes, White for World Mayor, IAH growthTime yet again to clear out the miscellaneous small items queue:
- Houston ranked third in the nation for the financial performance of its charities. My impression is that we have a strong business community that supports and serves local charities and brings that financial discipline with them.
- Houston hot for industrial development. Excerpts:
Industry experts say the Bayou City has become a hot spot for industrial construction because of a growing demand for space that's being fueled by the strong economy and increased capacity at the Port of Houston.
Houston is also being cast as more of a distribution hub following last year's opening of a 4 million-square-foot distribution complex in Baytown by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
"Everyone wants to be in Houston now," he says. "Houston is booming."
- Profile of booming global trade in Houston.
- Houston's downtown was recently ranked as the 8th-largest central business district in the nation with 153,400 jobs (about 9% of the metro total), behind NYC, Chicago, DC, SF, Boston, Philly, and Seattle, but ahead of LA, Atlanta, and Dallas (which actually came in behind Austin, if you can believe that). With the exception of Seattle, Houston is the largest of the car-based, post-WW2 cities - a development pattern that has typically not been kind to downtowns.
- Kuff does a great job summarizing what's wrong with selling toll roads, which, fortunately, is no longer a risk in Harris County.
- Interesting story on using unmanned aerial observation drones in LA for law enforcement. Definitely an idea worth considering for Houston's recent crime spike.
- Don't forget to vote online for Mayor White for World Mayor 2006 (thanks to Metroblog for the story).
- Finally, a Dallas Morning News story on Continental's booming operation at IAH, in marked contrast to pullbacks by most legacy carriers in their hubs. Excerpts:
We're a very, very lucky city to have such a strong, well-regarded airline growing its hub aggressively at a modern, uncongested airport. It's a huge asset to the city. We're threatening to pass American's hub at DFW for the title of second-largest hub in the country (after Delta/Atlanta) in terms of flights per day (currently 781). We already beat them on nonstop destinations (183 vs. 166), but they have about a 50% edge in total passenger traffic because they use more large aircraft vs. Continental Express' regional jets (plus the Wright restrictions on Love Field that drive traffic to DFW, vs. our unconstrained Hobby). Still, when it comes to overall service, we've got the edge.
Growth in passenger traffic soared 9 percent last year at Bush Intercontinental Airport, enough to make it the fourth-fastest growing airport in the world.
That surpasses hot Asian airports such as Singapore's.
A big factor is Houston's surging oil-fired economy, which has stoked job growth and punched up travel demand.
Nearly 80,000 jobs will be added to the Houston region this year, according to the Greater Houston Partnership report in May. That's up two-thirds from a December estimate.
But much of the airport traffic hike lies with the strategy of its major carrier, Continental Airlines Inc. Houston's hometown airline has taken a markedly different approach from most of its peers by adding planes and beefing up international and domestic flying.
"It's fair to say that Houston's strong economy has helped us have confidence here," said Karen Zachary, who plans Continental's domestic system, from her office in the carrier's downtown headquarters.
"What Continental has done at Houston is just fantastic," said Alan Sbarra, an aviation consultant with Roach and Sbarra in San Francisco. "It's just a great hub for sending traffic to Latin America and, to a lesser extent, to South America."
Most of those planes have added flights on existing routes to add appeal to Continental's schedule, which is built to give business travelers lots of choices to visit a city and come back in the same day.
Continental has kept hot food on its flights both in business class and in coach, in part because it owns the food kitchens that cater the flights and also because it wants to differentiate its service from the competition.
Note to Continental: if I say more good things, can I get a first-class upgrade on my flight to Denver this weekend? ;-)