Monday, April 21, 2014

Why the Texans should draft Johnny, light rail pros and cons, HTC, and more

Before we get to this week's smaller misc items, my case for why the Texans should draft Johnny Manziel if they feel he's at least in the ballpark of similar potential to the other available quarterbacks in the draft: the Texans are in competition with the Cowboys for the hearts and minds of Texans (citizens, not players).  When the WSJ recently had their national county-by-county loyalty map, it was very clear the vast majority of Texas supports the Cowboys more than the Texans.  If the Texans want to make progress in that battle, drafting Manziel is a great way to suddenly get every Aggie in the state to start caring about their games, and that's the kind of thing that shifts team loyalties over time.  Signing Case Keenum was a similar much smaller nod in that direction for UH alums.  I'm not saying they should draft him if they think there's a much better talent they should go after, but if they think it's a tossup or very close between several candidates, he should be their man as a very formidable weapon not just on the field, but in the ongoing mindshare battle with the Cowboys.  How's that for a Houston strategy?... ;-)

Moving on:
  • Atlantic Cities on "Can Houston learn to love light rail?"  I think it's a reasonably well-balanced article on the pros and cons, with a fierce debate in the comments, but the concluding paragraph is not very optimistic:
"Wandering this neighborhood, now a ten-minute train ride from downtown, I came across Del's Ice Cream, a small shop one block from a brand-new light rail station. Owner Delfina Torres has a front row seat for Houston's transit experiment, but she has doubts. "Houston is a vehicle town," she says. "They love their cars. It's going to be a long way coming to a city with less driving and more walking." Though it is now a direct light rail trip from her home to the Houston Rodeo, eight miles away, she says she can get there and back faster in her car." 
If you can't even attract people with direct point-to-point service, what are the odds with long walks and connections?
"Houston's rise follows its success in many areas. The city's growth rate led to placement on a list of "super cities" based on economic success. Houston has also placed highly in rankings for best places for young families and best places for graduates to get jobs."
  • According to this survey and op-ed, overall a majority of people prefer single-family suburban living, but most cities are still not providing enough multi-family housing to meet the demand - mainly because of zoning/building restrictions.  Fortunately, Houston does not have such restrictions, and you can certainly see the construction everywhere inside the loop as developers race to meet the surging demand for inner core living.  Chalk up another win for no-zoning.
Finally, I was recently given a short tour of the Houston Technology Center by their president, Walter Ulrich.  They're doing great work supporting entrepreneurship in Houston, including partnerships with NASA in Clear Lake to build up aerospace entrepreneurship in Houston during tough times at JSC.  If you're not a corporate sponsor now, you should seriously consider it.  Check out these stats:
"The Houston Technology Center works day in and day out with emerging technology entrepreneurs in energy, life sciences, IT, nanotechnology and NASA related space.  The companies that we have worked with have created over 4,500 jobs that generate over $680 million in annual economic activity.  They have enjoyed investments and financial transactions in excess of $1.5 billion.  A back of the envelope calculation shows that a Gold Sponsor at the upcoming gala Celebration of Entrepreneurs adds $1,670,000 of economic activity and gets to enjoy celebrating with Apache Founder (and WWII Bomber Pilot) Raymond Plank, Nobel laureate Robert Curl, and Houston icons Dr. Red Duke, Dr. Bernard Harris and Morrie Abramson.  Some of our largest sponsors contribute $20 million in economic activity thanks to their generosity."

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