The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP), a group of more than 2,000 local and regional business leaders in the ten country area surrounding Houston, proclaims the city has everything that businesses need to thrive in the global market place. These needs include a skilled, available work force, superior location, expansive and sophisticated resources, and the infrastructure and transportation channels to support growth and prosperity across virtually all industries.
Basic Benefits for Business
Among the myriad of advantages the city offers, GHP lists five primary geographical benefits for new businesses considering Houston as the place to be:
- Central time zone accommodates communication during traditional business hours from New York to Los Angeles
- Four seaports available for transport and delivery
- Two major airports service the region with domestic and international freight and passenger service
- Mild climate year round
- Positioned mid-way between east coast and west coast
Attracting and Retaining Major Businesses
While building new partnerships is an important focus for GHP, maintaining strong alliances with current businesses contributes to the city’s strong economic outlook. Part of the expansive breadth of resources for economic development includes state initiatives designed to cement long-term projects.
Shaina Zucker of the Houston Business Journal, reported that Chevron USA, which employs thousands of Houston area residents, plans to build a new tower in Houston to create more space for their growing business. The company plans to hire almost 1800 new employees as part of the expansion.
Funds from a $12 million dollar Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) award will most likely cover project costs for the new tower, and could be used to defray the cost of recruiting new talent, as the TEF report from Office of the Governor Rick Perry’s site highlights. Funding covers recruitment expenses such as temporary housing, transportation, and relocation compensation packages.
Housing and Employee Benefits
While Texas, and Houston in particular offer a low tax base, economic incentives and a culturally diverse employee pool, there are some that think the city could do more to improve the economic outlook for citizens living in blighted neighborhoods.
Ben Hall, who ran an unsuccessful bid against Houston’s incumbent Mayor Annise Parker, says more could be done to revitalize housing and bring greater employment opportunities to veterans. One of his major campaign talking points was to highlight the need to replace the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) policies with new programs to benefit areas that are often labeled as “unsustainable”, according to BenHallforMayor.com. Mr. Hall expressed interest in building new units and repairing existing structures to provide more apartments for rent in Houston. More units would serve current and future residents as new businesses move into the region.
Home values continue to rise, and there are some indications that the number of apartment homes is already growing in bedroom communities. Both positive economic indicators. The 2012 ACCRA cost of living report shows that Houston’s after-tax cost of living in 2009 was lower (roughly 11 percent below the national average) than many metropolitan areas, beating out cities like New York, Dallas and Chicago.
Projections for the Future
If history is any indication, the city will continue to enjoy robust economic growth in the future. With Chevron’s commitment to inject half a million dollars into Opportunity Houston 2.0 to spark innovative business solutions and support economic development, Houston seems to have found a sophisticated approach to sustainable business growth. It’s about mutual fulfillment. When the community supports business growth, growing businesses support the community.
Guest Post: Trevor Wilkins
Trevor is a cultural sponge who writes about his worldly travels.