New GHP Tower, Houston attracting talent as a knowledge capital, saving the Astrodome, and moreThis week I was able to attend the media preview of the Greater Houston Partnership's new tower and offices next to the GRB. It is an amazingly well-designed space that will be fantastic for hosting outside visitors and promoting economic development. I took my own pictures, but the Chronicle pictures here are better if you want to check it out, or the Twitter feed pics of the event here.
Moving on to this week's items:
- Following up on my last post about Houston's lack of zoning being held up as a model nationally, Strong Towns has a good piece on the President's attack on zoning and housing restrictions. I don't always agree with Strong Towns, but they've got some good points here, most of which we do, but a few we could learn from (like taxing vacant land higher and requiring less off-street parking).
- Houston/Harris County #3 for talent attraction behind Austin and SF/SV! A pretty impressive showing indeed. And some surprising names at the bottom of the list as well: NYC Manhattan, DC, Philly, and Chicago.
- In spite of the oil industry downturn, Houston's GDP still exceeds $500 billion and outranks Dallas-Fort Worth for #4 in the nation (hat tip to Patrick)
- Brookings ranks Houston as a Knowledge Capital, but not quite yet a Global Giant. From Kinder:
"Among knowledge capitals, Houston had some of the strongest economic indicators, including its GDP per capita and GDP growth between 2000 and 2015. Its trade, air passenger traffic and research profile also scored well.
Overall, Houston ranked third of the 19 knowledge capitals, behind Chicago and Dallas. Houston actually out-performed Dallas in all but four categories: venture capital per capita, educational attainment, overall metropolitan area population and air passenger traffic.
But there’s room to improve. Houston actually ranked lowest of all 19 knowledge capital cities when it comes to educational attainment, and in the bottom three for venture capital investment.
But as Houston continues to grow, these rankings may not hold. Houston is already on track to surpass Chicago’s population. And the University of Texas has eyed an expansion in Houston, adding to its university scene. The Texas Medical Center continues to add jobs and boost the city’s research potential. And a planned — if delayed - new terminal at Bush International Airport promises to bring more air traffic to the region."
- The Lone Star State ranks sixth in the nation for charitable giving, higher than any other large state.
- Hurray for the new Astrodome plan which recently passed commissioners court. Just to clarify, folks, it's *not* just a parking garage, but an event venue for conventions, festivals, OTC, Texan games, and the Rodeo that happens to be using a paid parking garage as a revenue-generating way to raise the floor 30 ft. to ground level.
"WE WILL NEVER FIX GOVERNMENT UNTIL WE ABANDON THE CENTRAL PLANNING MODEL OF REGULATION. We must return to the Framer’s conception of a “Republic” in which officials act on their best judgment and are accountable for how they do. Of course law is vital—to set goals and governing principles, and hierarchies of accountability, and, sometimes specific rules, as with pollution limits. But when law tries to supplant human judgment, it fails. Life is too complicated to be governed by dense rulebooks. That’s the core flaw of modern government. Law can’t think. People on the spot must take responsibility to do what they think is right, and be accountable for how they do. Talking about “better management” and “less red tape” and “new systems” will do nothing without human authority to make necessary choices. What reformers need to talk about is putting humans in charge again."