Job generating ideas for Mayor ParkerMayor Parker recently called for job-generating ideas to be submitted to her campaign web site, and I thought I'd share with you my suggestions I submitted.
What can Mayor Parker and the City of Houston do to create more jobs in Houston right now?:
Employers are creating more new jobs outside the city than inside of it because of severe traffic congestion. They want to be close to their employees who want new, high-quality, affordable housing and good schools (for example, see the new far north Exxon campus). We need faster, better, nonstop HOV express commuter bus transit from all the far neighborhoods to all of Houston's job centers (not just downtown). Open up the express commuter bus/shuttle market to private competition by offering a flat Metro subsidy per passenger-trip and/or per passenger-mile and letting private companies compete on service, routes, schedules, and amenities (like wi-fi). Let them use the existing Park-and-Rides or cut deals with private parking lots like churches and malls. This is the fastest way to not only improve commuter service, but also maximize ridership to reduce rush hour congestion. Then employers will feel comfortable adding jobs in the city core knowing they can draw on employees from all over the metro with reasonable commutes. Employers also get another bonus: when employees aren't driving, they can spend that hour+ a day on the express bus being productive with email and other work on their smartphones or laptops. With that kind of productivity increase, maybe employers would also offer transit subsidies/incentives, further increasing ridership and service?
How can Mayor Parker make sure that Houston’s workforce has the skills to compete for the jobs of the future?:
Help organize a nonprofit led by some very wealthy Houstonians to convert the Astrodome and old Astroworld site into the world's largest engineering and technology museum (possibly part of the Smithsonian museum network), but focused not just on history but the great challenges of the present and future and inspiring kids into STEM fields. More details on my blog here.
How can local government partner with the private sector to foster opportunity that will lead to more jobs for Houstonians?:
Spin internal City IT applications out to the private sector (possibly small tech startups) for continued development and marketing to other cities, creating new tech jobs, better software for the city (which can improve efficiency), and a royalty stream back to the city as other cities adopt the same technology as the 4th-largest city in the country. Houston could become a national hub/cluster for local government IT application companies.
I welcome your own thoughts in the comments. Even better, send them to the mayor.