Monday, November 30, 2009

Houston one of five cities that will rise in the new economy

The Christian Science Monitor recently named Houston one of five cities that will rise in the new economy, along with Boston, Seattle, Huntsville-AL, and Fort Collins-CO. Not bad company. In fact, they open the main article with us:
In Houston, the Texas Medical Center is expanding so quickly that it will soon become the seventh largest downtown in the US. By itself. The hospital complex brims with restaurants, shops, and hotels, and employs 100,000 people – the population of Billings, Mont.
Later they mention the power of affordable housing to attract young talent. They also have detailed profile article on Houston with some good excerpts:

...Many say the city is poised to do well because of its ties to the global marketplace. Houston is home to NASA, as well as the largest medical complex in the world, the second-busiest port in the nation, and a strong international business sector.

...“To me, Houston is the perfect intersection of old industry stepping up to advance leading-edge industries,” says Vivante’s founder and president, J. David Enloe Jr.

But Houston has much more than energy experience powering its future. It is the largest US port in foreign tonnage and the second largest in total tonnage. (including strong exports)


Then there is the Texas Medical Center, which may be Houston’s version of the Great Pyramids, only with windows and an antiseptic smell. More than $3 billion is going into expanding the Med Center’s footprint from 30 million to 40 million square feet – making it larger than the size of the area inside Chicago’s Loop. The complex currently serves up to 65,000 patients a day, says Richard Wainerdi, the CEO.

Still, even with the port, the medical center, and NASA, the petrochemical industry remains the flywheel of the economy – accounting for about half the area’s total output. Eager to be in the vanguard of the New Economy, city officials are trying to redefine Houston as more than just an oil and gas capital. They want it to be an energy capital – including renewables.

Last summer, for example, Houston became the No. 1 municipal purchaser of green power in the nation, with 25 percent of the city’s total electricity load coming from wind energy. (Texas leads the US in wind-energy production.)

The article also includes a couple of nice Houston pictures here and here.

Hat tip to Jessie.

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At 7:09 PM, November 30, 2009, Blogger Alon Levy said...

Huntsville is a surprise. Are they talking about the Honda plant? Because if they are, then the question arises, what happens when Honda folds. GM didn't last forever, and neither will Honda. Will Huntsville shrug off Honda the way Los Angeles has shrugged off the relocation of big oil to Texas, or will it go the way of Flint?

At 8:26 PM, November 30, 2009, Blogger Tory Gattis said...

I think they were impressed with the large numbers of PhD's at NASA in Huntsville. While that's a nice, reasonably well-paid job base, I don't see it sparking a lot of entrepreneurship or economic growth.

At 10:10 PM, November 30, 2009, Blogger Rail Claimore said...

Alon, I have no idea what you're talking about. Honda has no operations here, and their Alabama engine plant is located in Lincoln, about 40 miles east of Birmingham on I-20. The only auto plant we have is a Toyota engine plant.

Most of our economy is based on military and aerospace-related R&D and the economic externalities that come with it. There's also a lot of general tech here as well. I do think we're too heavily tied to the military-industrial complex though, and could be our downfall one day.

The office-space comparison with Chicago's Loop caught me off guard. Are they talking about the 35-block area that's actually inside the el-train loop? That's slightly more believable, but Downtown Chicago as a whole has about 120m sq ft of office space, and most of that is in "The Loop", which effectively means the central part of downtown that's south of the main branch of the Chicago river and north of Congress Street.

At 2:58 PM, December 01, 2009, Blogger Alon Levy said...

Sorry, I meant the Toyota engine plant, you're right. I remembered that it was a transplant factory, but didn't remember the right company.

At 8:45 AM, December 03, 2009, Anonymous Mike said...

Nice recognition, although they were a bit careless in copying Medical Center press release wording. The TMC won't be "larger than Chicago's downtown," as the photo caption states - it will have more square footage of floor space than Chicago's Loop, which by itself is maybe a third of the total in downtown Chicago. And the usage of Med Center space is of course much less dense than the Loop's usage, given its drastically cheaper price per square foot.

Still a nice achievement though.

At 4:22 PM, December 04, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was recently said by the Washington Post editor that his paper is not a publication of record serving a national audience.
The CS Monitor, however, does take that tack. I'm not reading the original article, so I don't know their stated rationale, but if you think about their selections... they just wanted one interest in each general part of the audience area. So no San Antonio and Houston, and no Ft. Collins and CO Sprs. Whatever. I'll bet Kansas City was chagrined not to get it over Denver.

At 5:35 PM, December 04, 2009, Blogger Alon Levy said...

I've just read the article, with the description of each city. The articles are all very airy - they mention a few stories from each city that read like they were reprinted from a corporate press release, and maybe a helpful statistic or two: Huntsville has more Ph.D.s than Baptist churches, Boston's housing prices haven't come down much, Seattle leads in bookstores per capita. Overall, it reads like a random collection of booster press releases, rather than a sober assessment of who will grow in the future and who won't.


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