Monday, May 08, 2006

Houston gets dual #3 rankings

Houston came in a very strong third in the nation not once but twice in the last week.

First, Site Selection magazine ranked Houston third for new economic development projects in 2005 with 214, behind Chicago (389) and DFW (309). They also ranked Texas #1 among states with 12 top metros. In addition, they recognized the Greater Houston Partnership as one of the top economic development groups in the nation.
The mass exodus of Houston residents fleeing the path of Hurricane Rita last fall was the exact opposite behavior of corporate America in 2005. With 214 large-scale corporate facility projects last year, the Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land metro area was third in the country, behind only Chicago and Dallas.
What makes the Houston area so attractive to companies? Besides its 5.3 million people and work force of more than 2.6 million, Houston has a reputation as a fast-growing technology center. Some 21 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Houston, and 51 of the world's 100 largest non-U.S. corporations have non-retail operations in Houston.

The Port of Houston is the world's sixth largest and routinely ranks first in the nation in volume of foreign tonnage and second in the nation in total tonnage.

Houston has more than 300,000 students enrolled in more than 60 colleges, universities and technical schools throughout the area. The median age of Houston workers is 33, compared to the national median age of 36.
Our second ranking comes from Forbes, where we are the third-best city for business and careers behind Albuquerque and Raleigh, NC. Here's the write-up they give us in their Top 10 list:

Population: 5,257,000
Job Growth: 0.8%
Income Growth: 2.2%
Big Employers: Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, Administaff, Continental Airlines, Halliburton.

The nation's third-largest metro area is riding high on the fumes of the energy boom. Employment jumped 2.6% last year, while household income rose 5.1%. Houston's business costs are 11% lower than the national average and well below any other area with more than 3 million people.

Nation's third-largest metro area? I'm sure a whole lot of big shots in Chicago are fuming at that misprint. Forbes claims that they used new, redefined MSA definitions from 2003, which does rank us the fourth-largest in their tables - a nice match to being the fourth-largest city. It looks like a lot of metros got trimmed down dramatically in the new definitions (many were split in two), which pushes us ahead of Philly, Dallas, Miami, and DC. You can see the pare-downs here in the middle column.

Their table also notes that we have the lowest cost of doing business among the 25 largest metros. You can browse their ranking maps here.

Also check out our subcategory rankings. All those rankings seem reasonable to me except cost of living (114) and culture & leisure (41). How is our cost of doing business so low, but cost of living so high? Unfortunately, they don't provide ranking lists in these categories to see who scores better. The footnote for culture & leisure is "Index based on museums, theaters, golf courses, sports teams and other activities." Is somebody going to tell me there are 40 metros in the U.S. that score better than us on that? Give me a break.

I've heard predictions of over 3.4% job growth in Houston for 2006, driven by the energy boom, which could be enough to boost us into the #1 spot next year. Of course, by now, most of you know the downside of boom times: more traffic congestion. Add that to $3+ gas, and maybe more people will give HOV Metro/vanpooling/carpooling another look?


At 1:28 PM, May 09, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot the other downside of boom times...bust times. Oh well, maybe Jean Michel-Jarre will do another show.


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