Monday, July 27, 2009

Houston's global competiveness rankings + radio show

Just finished a fun KPFT radio show this afternoon, "Growing up in Houston", where we talked about The Economist special section on Texas and our issues with children's education and health care. The hosts were Bob Sanborn and Diana Zarzuelo from Children at Risk. I dropped the ball by not announcing it in advance on the blog, but if you'd like to listen, you can download the mp3 podcast here. (that link should work until late September)

Moving on, this is an older study and article I've been meaning to blog on for a while. DBJ reports on the Global DFW study, which included many Houston references and focused on...
...benchmarking D-FW against major metropolitan regions worldwide in key areas for global competitiveness: talent, access, resources, business climate and quality of life.

The 20 metropolitan regions used to benchmark D-FW represent an elite stratum of global business centers, selected on the basis of their national significance, world rankings in advanced services, airport activity, ability to attract talent and ties to D-FW. They are located in Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America, and they include long-established leaders such as New York, London and Tokyo, as well as newly emerging regions such as Mumbai and Monterrey, Mexico.

Five essential ingredients for economic success were identified based largely on executive surveys of international location decisions: the availability of skilled workers, access to markets and partners, local resources to support business operations, a favorable business climate and quality of life. A total of 27 indicators were collected for all 21 metro regions, including D-FW.

Overall, D-FW ranks 10th in global competitiveness among these 21 elite global business centers. This ranking reflects a composite measure of all 27 indicators in the five major categories. Houston, the only other Texas city in the study, ties with Dallas in this composite ranking.

Business climate is D-FW’s strongest asset. The very low costs of doing business here combined with the nation’s relatively stable institutions and competitive taxes boost D-FW to second place in business climate, tied with Atlanta and outpaced only by Singapore.

(not sure why Dallas is #2 here and Houston is #5 when we're really almost identical here, and how the hell did LA come in at #4!? Very suspect.)

D-FW also performs exceptionally well in the international arena on quality of life, ranking 8th in a four-way tie with Amsterdam, Chicago and Houston. Quality of life indicators focus on health, safety and affordability.

Resources measure a region’s capacity to create, implement and sustain leading world-class operations as measured by the presence of top headquarter operations and stock exchanges as well as research, development and patent activity. D-FW and Houston stand together in 10th place on these indicators.

Atlanta and Chicago (and Houston) create a four-way tie with the Texans at 10th place in access, which measures a region’s ability to move people and goods to and through the area by air, land and water. Singapore joins D-FW and Houston with a showing of 11th place on talent, which measures both quantity and quality of the existing work force as well as capacity to train future employees.

Formidable competitor

D-FW is one of only five metros in this study that does not fall below a mid-point ranking in any of the five major categories. The other four include London, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. The remaining 16 struggle with one or more of the essential ingredients of success.

This study tells a story that is wholly consistent with the region’s domestic reputation. Dallas-Fort Worth is a formidable competitor, able to distinguish itself among an elite set of international metropolitan regions. The business climate is exceptional at the very highest levels of competition and the region shows no significant weaknesses in the five essential ingredients for economic success.

Dallas-Fort Worth is well-positioned to continue its progress in the global economy. However, there is work to be done. There are individual indicators in this report that warrant further attention, especially in the areas of talent and access, and the competition ahead is fierce. Area leaders and decision-makers will need to make critical resource allocations in the coming years to ensure continued success.

As always, you have to take these things with a big grain of salt. Anything based on an arbitrary weighting of an arbitrary list of variables is suspect. But it never hurts to rank higher rather than lower, and that bodes well for Houston (and DFW).

The full report is here.

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