Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Houston #13 on Forbes Best Cities for Business

Forbes 2005 Best Cities for Business list is out, and Houston placed a very respectable #13 out of 150. Texas as a whole made a strong showing with 4 in the top 20: Austin (3), Houston (13), Dallas (19), and Fort Worth (20). #1 was Boise and #2 was Raleigh-Durham - although I found it very strange that they had a sidebar on Raleigh-Durham titled "Deadville" (mega-sprawl, weak downtowns, thin culture and nightlife, etc.). Not sure how the Raleigh-Durham chamber of commerce is dealing with that one ("Um, there's a page missing in these complimentary copies you're handing out...")

The rankings were partially based on the cost of doing business, job growth, and educational attainment. Somebody will have to explain to me how Dallas ranked 23rd for cost of doing business, but we were 41st. Everything I've heard says our costs are almost exactly the same - and Dallas' housing costs are actually a little higher (a study a few years back attributed that to zoning).

Only a few big cities did better than Houston: DC (4), Atlanta (9), and Phoenix (12). Most of the really big boys ranked pretty badly: New York (120), LA (106), Chicago (87), and San Francisco (81). Florida also did amazingly badly, with all 13 of its cities ranked between 58 (Melbourne) and 138 (Miami). California also did pretty badly, and Rich Karlgaard has a column in that issue advising Californians to evacuate and recommending where they should go in "the interior":
"One-third of Los Angeles residents now tell pollsters they are sick of their city. The percentage of L.A. malcontents has doubled in only two years, according to polls cited by Anne Taylor Fleming, a local essayist. Of course, one learns to take any poll analysis with a grain of salt. But my gut tells me this one has it right. The radio talk shows in L.A. these days yap constantly about the prices of houses, car commutes that never end and the breakdown of public services."
Who's ranked at the bottom, you ask? Modesto in the central valley of California at #150, where I'm sure the people and businesses are fleeing in-mass to their neighbor city, Stockton, ranked a much more respectable 149...


At 9:52 PM, May 11, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For kicks I had a quick look at the 2000 edition of the listings to see if there were any big surprises.

In 2000, Santa Rosa, CA ranked 3rd. By 2005, they were 65th. Ouch. Look out Stockton and Modesto!

In 2000, our neighbor San Antonio ranked an impressive 8th. By 2005, 85th!

And how about our fine city? We've improved from 39th to 13th. Enron, schmenron!

And now for the big shocker: in 2000, Albuquerque ranked 141st. By 2005, they were 5th. C'mon Forbes, how can that be?!

A quick defense of "Deadville" aka Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill: the nightlife has a college town tilt as one might expect. Just don't go looking for big city amenities like a first class opera or a major exhibition of French Impressionist paintings.

At 11:05 AM, May 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Albuquerque is a great place to have a business.

And except for the public schools (which rank somewhere around Mississippi's) Albuquerque's quality of life is wonderful, too.

At 12:44 PM, May 15, 2005, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I don't think he meant to say anything negative about Albuquerque, just that Forbes ranking formula obviously has a bit too much volatility in it if a city's ranking can change so radically in just a few years.

At 1:38 PM, May 15, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly... I'm very fond of Albuquerque and would not object to living there at all. It was the upward jump of 136 places in the Forbes rankings that caught my attention. But despite the inherent flaws in rankings like this, they're great fun nonetheless.


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