Sunday, July 28, 2013

Engineering City USA, Houston - we may have a warp drive, #1 city for college grads, and more

Just a few quick smaller items this week:

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Spaceport Houston, NPR on HOU, top exporter, Charlotte learns from us, Energy Corridor's big future, and more

Some smaller items this week...
The greater Houston area has replaced New York City as the largest goods exporting region of the US, official data have shown, thanks to the energy boom that is reshaping the country’s industrial landscape.
Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, said the city’s “increasingly global ethos” was also a factor in its export success. 
“Houston has a big airport serving a lot of international flights, and an increasingly international mentality, built up from its global position in energy and the importance of the port,” he said. 
About 28 per cent of Houston’s population was born outside the US, putting it in the top 10 of large US cities for foreign-born residents. 
In another sign of the region’s international perspective, direct commercial flights from Houston to Beijing began on Thursday, run by Air China. 
As well as fossil fuel products, the Houston region also has significant exports of manufactured goods including machinery and electronics. 
Although the latest numbers are for goods exports only, the shift away from New York and towards Houston echoes the US economy’s tilt away from financial services and towards energy. 
Since the start of the recession at the end of 2007, the New York area has added a net 75,000 jobs, a 0.9 per cent increase, while Houston has added 195,000, a rise of 7.5 per cent.
  • Charlotte delegation comes to learn from Houston, with extensive Charlotte Observer coverage here, here, and here.  It's too bad they didn't spend more time on the value of our no-zoning approach and free market land use policies.  Hat tip to Jessie.  Excerpts:
Business, political and civic leaders on the Charlotte Chamber’s annual inter-city visit said Friday they came away impressed by how Houstonians think big, and pull together for massive business and public works projects.
“If you can’t make it in Houston, you can’t make it anywhere,” said Huebner, president of the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council.
Love that quip about Houston! 
The nearly 21 million square feet of office and mixed-use space now in the ECD is expected to swell to 38.4 million square feet within 17 years, according to CDS, a Houston-based marketing research and analysis firm. Three-quarters of the existing space is considered Class A. 
Already, 6.5 million square feet of office/mixed-use space is under construction or proposed for the District. A good portion of that is slated along what will soon be the extension of Park Row, a road now being completed by the ECD. 
The CDS research report features demographic projections, including a breakdown of where Houston’s engineers live. It also examines current and future parcels, 30-minute drive times, under-construction and proposed buildings – and perhaps the most telling finding, employment forecasts. 
Office and retail buildings under construction and proposed, according to CDS, could soon bring 22,000 additional employees to the District, now one of the largest workforce centers along the Gulf Coast. The ECD’s employment base is expected to grow from 84,000 to 147,000 employees by 2030, reports the CDS study.

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Monday, July 08, 2013

Spring 2Q13 Highlights

It's time for the Spring 2Q13 quarterly highlights post of the 9th year of this blog, and we're still on track to hit the 1,000th blog post major milestone towards the end of this year.

These posts have been chosen with a particular focus on significant ideas I'd like to see kept alive for discussion and action, and they're mainly targeted at new readers who want to get caught up with a quick overview of the Houston Strategies landscape. I also like to track what I think of as "reference posts" that sum up a particular topic or argument; and, last but not least, they've also been invaluable for me to track down some of my best thinking for meetings or when requested by others (as is the ever-helpful Google search). They're not quite as useful as they were when I was still doing multiple posts each week, but still have some value (at least for me).

Don't forget we offer an email option for the roughly once/week posts - see the Google Groups subscription signup box in the right sidebar. An RSS feed link is also available in the right sidebar. As always, thanks for your readership.

And from Winter 1Q13:

And don't forget the highlights from the first few years. For what it's worth, I think the best ideas are found there, often in the first year (I had a lot "stored up" before I started blogging) and most definitely in the 5th birthday retrospective (which I'm now updating at the end of each year).


Monday, July 01, 2013

Preserving history at the Astrodome, SCOTUS backs property rights, NPR on Houston, don't fear sprawl

After reading the NY Times story on the Astrodome and seeing their picture of the Dome's interior, I had a random thought on the HCSCC plan for the Dome that might both save money and improve historic preservation.  Maybe all the upper level seats could be just left in place as historic artifacts?  Just put in a giant convention floor at ground level (please build a structure to preserve the below-ground room for potential future use - don't fill it with dirt), along with renovated amenities at ground level, but just leave the upper level stuff there as a reminder of what the dome use to be?  (maybe with a little dusting ;-)  Why spend the money and time ripping it out when that space isn't needed?  Maybe people will want to take historical tours of the original upper levels? If you agree and know anybody at the county level involved with the Astrodome plan, please pass this along.

And a few other quick items this week:
  • The Supreme Court supports property rights, ruling that, yes, if a municipality tries to extort too much from a landowner in a permit negotiation, they are in essence taking his property without compensation.  This little noticed ruling could have far-reaching impacts on cities - good ones, for the most part, IMHO - making more cities operate closer to the Houston free market model.
  • National NPR story: "In Houston, America's diverse future has already arrived"  Love the picture of the monks in front of Zen Mobile!
  • The Non-Devastating Impact of Urban Sprawl. Bottom line: don't be scared by all those satellite imagery animations going around - it's really not a big deal, covering less than 3% of our nation's land area.

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