Sunday, March 26, 2006

Odds and ends

Over time I tend to accumulate a lot of interesting odds and ends that don't justify a daily post by themselves, so I like to group them together into one post. So, in the spirit of "cleaning out the cupboards", here's what I've got:
  • Excerpts I liked from the Chronicle article on local ad agencies:

"Houston is growing like no other city in the U.S.," said Chuck Carlberg, principal at Rives Carlberg, the second-largest general marketing agency in Houston. Last year, he said, Houston moved up to the No. 10 spot among Designated Market Areas, regions reached by a TV signal. The No. 10 ranking is significant, he said, because many major advertisers, "like a Pepsi or Coke will say, 'Let's spend in the top 10 markets.' "


Houston is still a city of "dreamers, entrepreneurs and visionaries," he said. "If you have an idea you want to nurture, there is no greater city. You've got the people, the resources, the money and the infrastructure. All you need is an idea."

  • Reason's Out of Control blog on how rising home prices in many cities are driving out families. (Some of their links are messed up, so you have to copy and paste them into your browser and fix the http:// part for them to work)
  • Neat subway maps for lots of cities, all at the same scale so you can compare how extensive different cities' networks are. Paris is remarkably small vs. London and NYC.
  • NYT on some companies moving back to NOLA instead of staying in Houston, with a focus on Shell.
  • Who would have guessed that Oregon has the third worst air pollution after NY and CA? I feel a new slogan coming on to counter perceptions of our own air pollution: "Houston - Better Air Than Oregon."
  • NYT on the gentrification of Atlanta. Some parallels to our situation around Midtown and the Third Ward.
  • We have our share of challenges, as does Dallas, but Atlanta is having a truly painful year that puts our issues into perspective. Excerpt from Maria Saporta, one of the AJC's business columnists:

Talk about a losing streak. In the past year, Atlanta and Georgia have seen a dramatic reversal of fortune from those days in the 1980s and '90s when it seemed as though we won everything that came our way. We landed the 1996 Summer Olympics, on our very first try, plus two Super Bowls and a slew of national and international corporate headquarters, such as UPS. We beat out other cities for the national headquarters of the American Cancer Society, CARE and the Boys & Girls Club of America. We were on a roll, fulfilling all the promises that boosters had made for years that Atlanta would be the world's next great international city.

Now our fortunes have shifted into reverse. Read the list at your peril.

General Motors and Ford are closing plants. Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, also closing. Delta Air Lines, Chapter 11 bankruptcy. BellSouth, a Fortune 500 company, to be acquired by the new AT&T. Georgia-Pacific, another Fortune 500 firm, acquired by Kansas-based Koch Industries. Scientific-Atlanta, acquired by San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems.

The list keeps going. The city lost bids for the 2009 and 2010 Super Bowls. NASCAR's hall of fame will be built in Charlotte, not Atlanta. DaimlerChrysler will build a van plant in South Carolina, not Georgia. And efforts to woo the headquarters of Chiquita and K-Mart fell short.

Makes you want to count our blessings...


At 7:50 AM, March 27, 2006, Blogger John Whiteside said...

It's interesting seeing those maps to scale - particularly the London/Paris combination, as greater London and Ile-de-France are not that far off in population and physical size.

I wonder if what you see gets skewed a bit by how systems are organized; for example, the Paris map includes Metro and RER but not SCNF; I don't know London transport enough to know if their tube/regional/long distance train divisions are analogous to those of Paris.

A great indicator of transport coverage (but not an easy one to find) is what percentage of addresses are within a set distance (say, half a kilometer) of a transit stop (of any type). I remember seeing the figure for SF once (well over 90%); it gives you an idea of how practical it is for people to actually use the system. I'd love to see a comparison of that for different cities.

At 5:02 PM, March 27, 2006, Blogger Andrew said...

Even with the reversal of fortune for Atlanta, it is still a powerful mecca for Black businesses in America. Plus, Atlanta has alot high profile and diverse (unlike Houston) Corporate HQs like Coca Cola and Home Depot.

Houston has been through her fair share of ebbs and flows so I won't cry any tears for Atlanta.

At 7:57 PM, March 27, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even with all of its losses recently, Atlanta has done extremely welll over the past 20 years-- perhaps better than just about any city not in Cali or Arizona. Atlanta has done a lot of things that Houston desires to do-- host the Olympics, be a world-class airport hub, have major research enterprises in science and engineering, and attract a young energetic workbase.

And as Florida gets more and more expensive to live in (and hurricanes grind on) Atlanta is just going to become more attractive to people. So I wouldnt cry too may tears for their losses. It is kind of like crying over recent SF losses-- in the short run things look bad, but look at these cities over a decade and they have had amazing progress.

At 7:43 AM, March 29, 2006, Blogger Andrew said...

Houston should follow Atlanta's example on How to sell a city.
Atlanta has been masterful at selling itself as a young, hip, Family & business friendly city.
City government and big business work hand in hand to promote Atlanta and it's benefits.
Plus, Atlanta doesn't have an inferiority complex like Houston. People in Atlanta love their city and everything about it. Even though it is a hot, high crime city it is still loved by all.
To bad Houston can't say the same.

At 8:45 AM, March 29, 2006, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I would mostly agree, but based on what I read by the columnists and in the open comments section of after those stories, I would say they *do* have the same inferiority complex and they *do not* universally love their city. There were waves of negative comments, esp. about traffic, crime, and downtown. I'd say they have extremely similar attitudes to Houston, although with more of a black/white racial tension/polarization vs. our more multi-ethnic melting pot.


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