Timoric

Amazon HQ2

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HOUTEX    60
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We're saving a lot of resources we don't have to spend on a losing battle, or even risk the "winner's curse" for whoever does win the bidding war.  We'll just keep growing with lots of small under-the-radar wins like we always do.  I'm not saying we don't have work to do as a city to attract more tech talent and companies (something Houston Exponential is directly addressing), but let's not blow this up to be more than it is.  Houston is doing fine - more than fine - and most cities would kill to be growing and thriving like we are.  Amazon was an unnecessary distraction. - let them cause havoc (talent poaching, driving up home prices, increasing traffic, draining tax incentives) somewhere else.

 

With respect, it's that mentality that will keep this city from ever being more than an also-ran in corporate relocations not involving heavy industry. The fact that  20 cities made the cut and Houston didn't in the face of the fact that there are more STEM workers here than anywhere else in the country is a damning statement. Granted, those workers by and large aren't going to be sought after by tech companies, but it does prove up the robustness employment base and regional education system to accommodate the 50,000 jobs that Amazon would have created. 

 

 

Blaming Harvey may not be all that incorrect - although it's likely more accurate to say that climate change and risk were factors. 

 

The fact we didn't make the short list is ultimately a judgement on the desirability of Houston, and a confirmation that nothing has changed in the eyes of the nationwide firms who value quality of life. The city has made great strides to reduce it's concentration on energy labor and to boost quality of life, maybe this will provide adequate impetus to kick start a tech sector and invest in public facilities that don't just convey massive numbers of cars from the burbs to downtown. Or, we could just shrug our shoulders and say "aw shucks, didn't want it anyway."

 

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Fortune    433

Houston, the City of Houston, the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston First, Houstons leaders should all be embarrassed that Houston didn't even make it to the top 20. I really hope that this lights a fire, because Houston really needs to get its s**t together. There are to many backwards thinkers running Houston. There is no reason the UT campus should not have moved forward in Houston, there is no reason our mass transit should not be further along than it is. We need a more diversified economy!

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Ross    694
7 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I don't think so. Just a few hundred employees, but that's where the prestige is and the decisions are made. They moved the lower-level jobs here because they had to, it's where the industry is; they moved the upper-level jobs there because they wanted to.

 

The move to Dallas was in 1989 or 1990, and was a deliberate choice to locate away from operational sites. I've seen articles somewhere that Atlanta was considered. I suspect one reason for Texas was the lack of a state income tax.

6 hours ago, ToryGattis said:

I expect the HQ will move down here at some point with the fancy new consolidated campus.  If not, it's probably because of corporate values that want to keep HQ staff separated from business units so they make more objective budgeting and investment decisions (people are naturally biased towards the people they're around every day).  GE and Boeing - among others - do the same thing.

That's the explanation given by then CEO Rex Tillerson here http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/10/23/exxon-mobil-ceo-not-moving-headquarters-to-houston/

 

 

There will be other opportunities to attract new companies. Hopefully without giving up any great amounts of subsidies.

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kbates2    799

There are plenty of reasons the UT campus should not have moved forward.  Don’t jump topics.

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102IAHexpress    115
10 hours ago, Fortune said:

Houston, the City of Houston, the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston First, Houstons leaders should all be embarrassed that Houston didn't even make it to the top 20. I really hope that this lights a fire, because Houston really needs to get its s**t together. There are to many backwards thinkers running Houston. There is no reason the UT campus should not have moved forward in Houston, there is no reason our mass transit should not be further along than it is. We need a more diversified economy!

 

How exactly can Houston's leaders diversify the economy? Are you suggesting some sort of state owned/controlled industry? Hysteria aside, Houston will be just fine. Fortunately Houston's leaders are pretty rational. If you want to see a case study on how local leaders can cause a mass exodus of citizens from a region, just look at the failed polices of Chicago's mayors and alderman. 

 

My two cents:

 

Long term pluses for Houston:

Johnson Space Center. NASA really put Houston on the map. Unfortunately the previous administration ended man space exploration. However the current administration is reversing that policy. That can only be good for Houston.

Bush Airport. Not really reported much but yesterday/today IAH launched a new route to Sydney. It's currently the second longest route from the US. Cities would kill for the amount of international routes Houston has. 

Energy: Again, favorable policies on energy will only help Houston.

Health Care: Baby boomers are getting older every day. 

Port of Houston:

Etc,...I could keep going but you get the picture.

 

Long term challenges:

Image problem: Houston is an ugly spread out city. It just is. Houston's 600 sq miles is half of the state of rhode island. It's pretty much the worst laid out city in the world for mass public transportation. But if the image of mass transpiration is really that import then maybe Houston can spend a few billion on a vanity project. Like that maglev to Shanghai's airport that operates at a deficit, transports very few people and provides no viable market solution for travelers, yet is very "cool".

 

Universities: Rice is top notch, but is way too small and pumps out way too few graduates. I was surprised at how many people had never heard of Rice up here in Chicago. I know that Rice prefers to be the Princeton of the south instead of the Harvard of the south, but on a few key majors/disciplines they need to greatly expand for the betterment of the region. 

 

 

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HoustonIsHome    1,273

I think Dallas and Austin are consistently regarded as more attractive than Houston for 3 reasons: 

 

1. Complacency.

To me Houston is the most complete city in Texas. We know it but we often assume respect but never demand it. Our attitude is often " we will definitely get the bid because Dallas had nothing on us and let's not even talk about Austin." Where we often fail is that we don't show how good we are we just lay there and hope for the best. Which brings me to #2. 

 

2. Marketing.

Dallas and Austin know they lack the resources that Houston has, but they never let that bring them down. While Houston is bragging about how they are better than DFW and Austin, DFW and Austin are putting out lists of reasons why they are great fits. We do not market ourselves enough. Out shining fellow cities is not marketing. It's just bragging.

 

3. Perception.

Putting the first two together it seems we have a perception problem and we are to blame. Dallas and Atlanta grow because they see a value in a new job no matter what that might be. 

It's great to be the capital of am industry but even better to have that an be attractive in other areas. When I graduated from school in San Antonio and I told my neighbors I was moving to Houston everyone kept saying why Houston and that Austin would be much better for young people. When asked why all they could say is that it just is. Even Texas leaders when there is talk about corporate relocations they immediately think Dallas. Why? Because that's where companies relocate.

 

4. Weak proposals.

We know we are great but we need to start doing a better job at going after things more forcefully by showcasing our strengths. If we do not believe that we are a good fit and Texas leaders don't see us as a good fit what makes you think companies would see it as a good fit to move here? We are just as liberal as Austin but we are not Austin and should not be compared to Austin. We are just as business friendly as Dallas but we are not Dallas. We are Houston and should show off Houston and it's amenities instead of bringing down or neighbors.

The two choices floated around were week in my opinion. And I didn't really hear much incentives that were ear pulling. The KBR site is an awesome piece of real estate but weed poorly packaged with transit and residential. I know you are all going to talk about all the nearby new builds but how it was packaged was lackluster. 

The other site in the Northeast was even worse in terms of promotion. Again the other cities put out a site and they say if you come we will do this and that and you will enjoy his this related to that and we will make it so that you will live how this interact with that. For us we say look how awesome this plot is. Or "look how ready this site is" 

 

Anyway, on a more positive note. My city is resilient. We will diversity. We will continue to attract lots of new jobs. We just need to realize that the big ones get away mainly because we have a more lukewarm approach to attracting them. 

 

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IronTiger    799
1 hour ago, ToryGattis said:

It does make me think why Amazon was even looking for large A-class cities to begin with (Houston, Philadelphia, NYC, Chicago, etc.), which already have big problems with housing prices, homelessness, and traffic. That's why I think they should be looking for B-class cities that have good connections with A-class cities but aren't connected, like Pittsburgh, places in Ohio, etc. (I would consider Detroit and Austin to be B-class but not good candidates but different reasons).

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bobruss    3,069
14 hours ago, Fortune said:

Houston, the City of Houston, the Greater Houston Partnership, Houston First, Houstons leaders should all be embarrassed that Houston didn't even make it to the top 20. I really hope that this lights a fire, because Houston really needs to get its s**t together. There are to many backwards thinkers running Houston. There is no reason the UT campus should not have moved forward in Houston, there is no reason our mass transit should not be further along than it is. We need a more diversified economy!

When the congressman from our district squashes future projects which would compliment our existing rail lines its pretty hard to work around it.

Especially when he is one of the players on the transportation committee and has written into the transportation bills that Houston will not receive any money for rail along Richmond or Post Oak, due to a very small handful of his constituents. Half of the properties along Richmond who had tenants that were negative about the rail aren't even there anymore and quite a few of the properties have been bulldozed and major mid rise apartments have been built in their place. Which would seem to provide riders for said line.

It would also be the final piece that would connect pretty much every major cultural, university, medical, sports, business districts and residential areas in the city.

When you have two dodards Delay and Culbertson in charge of transportation plans consecutively that are against mass transit it kind of puts you in a hole.

No telling how large a mass transit system we might have now if they hadn't got in the way. There is a solution coming up this November and you need to do your homework and find the alternative to John Quack Culbertson.

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SkylineView    1,258

It may be semantics, but IMO, the core issue for non-inclusion was the site.  We shouldn't have presented a "please help us make our city better" location (east side)... we should have presented a "this is what Houston is all about and it's AWESOME" location.  Generation Park would have been ok, though it's damn far to town, and it's green-field.  There are lots of great big empty lots in this country, and we didn't need to show Amazon an empty lot, we needed to show them something that would have fit into the fabric, culture, and excitement of our town.

 

Trying to think of sites that I would have presented (and ignoring who owns them), I offer three options. 

1. The Rice-owned property on Main where the old Sears is going to close (in town, transit, colleges, area is dynamic and building, plenty of apartments and a good scene)

2. The Energy-Corridor at I-10 and HW 6 where plans show a campus similar to what this would become (bus transit, good highway connections, access to suburban homes and great schools, planned dense developement, Top Golf)

3. Around the future Bellaire transit station (transit, access to Uptown, 'relatively' convenient to areas out west)

 

These sites are true Houston, fit into an existing fabric (rather than trying to make something from scratch), and cater to the demographic of the Amazon workforce.

We shouldn't have put the success or failure of a neighborhood on the company, we should have invited them to participate in the ongoing success of an area.  

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IronTiger    799
17 minutes ago, bobruss said:

When the congressman from our district squashes future projects which would compliment our existing rail lines its pretty hard to work around it.

Especially when he is one of the players on the transportation committee and has written into the transportation bills that Houston will not receive any money for rail along Richmond or Post Oak, due to a very small handful of his constituents. Half of the properties along Richmond who had tenants that were negative about the rail aren't even there anymore and quite a few of the properties have been bulldozed and major mid rise apartments have been built in their place. Which would seem to provide riders for said line.

It would also be the final piece that would connect pretty much every major cultural, university, medical, sports, business districts and residential areas in the city.

When you have two dodards Delay and Culbertson in charge of transportation plans consecutively that are against mass transit it kind of puts you in a hole.

No telling how large a mass transit system we might have now if they hadn't got in the way. There is a solution coming up this November and you need to do your homework and find the alternative to John Quack Culbertson.

 

Not this again. I'm not going to break down everything but...

- A lot of the Inner Loop has densified in the last 10 years without rail

- Traditional METRORail wouldn't have worked at all outside the Inner Loop, Dallas-style commuter hybrid rail would struggle to gain ridership due to the slow speed, and either way the street-running rail system would be dog slow

- Even as it is, the Red Line is highly successful but it takes nearly an hour to go from Northline to Fannin (52 minutes according to METRO's schedule) whereas the equivalent drive is about 20 minutes in non-peak freeway times

 

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bobruss    3,069

There are people who have no other way of getting around than mass transit and for them every little bit helps. 

You don't have to ride it. Others will and will take cars off the streets. Its about options and great cities have them. We don't.

Your right traditional rail wasn't meant for commuter lines, but how do you create commuter lines that take everyone to all of the different 

centers of commerce. Galleria, Med center, downtown, energy corridor, greens point, and the  woodlands. Houston is almost too disjointed for commuter lines but by first building a rail system that connects all centers of commerce to each other allows for more of the commuter lines to help.

You could build a commuter line to Sugarland and  Rosenburg that carries much of the med center that could connect to the red line.

Same for Katy freeway or 290 that could connect to the bus hub at old katy. and so on. 

Your own statement about the density is just the reason it will be more useful and help take cars off the streets. 

I don't know anything about you but a lot of the young people that I talk to don't necessarily care about cars and would prefer to take the rail when convenient. Thats one of the selling points for all of the new development along the rail.

You have to be more open to the future. If you wait until then its too late to build the infrastructure.

I don't understand your why this again.  Its a fundamental issue that people like Amazon, Apple and the high tech industry are looking for.

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H-Town Man    2,280
4 hours ago, ToryGattis said:

 

I think the main think for these cities is guaranteeing themselves a future in the 21st century. Pittsburgh was relevant in the 20th century because of industry, but industry is gone. They need something new to be relevant. Newark is doling out more than anyone because they are a hellhole. They need to put themselves on the map again.

 

The intoxicating thing about HQ2 is that it's a magic bullet - you can instantly go from irrelevant to relevant. It's like hitting a grand slam when you're down 3-0. If you have 50,000 Amazon jobs, no one can say you're not a relevant city for tech. And more jobs will follow these.

 

Houston also needs to worry about its future post-oil, but the first thing we need to worry about now is flooding. Nothing else we do really matters if that fear is hanging over us. We might just need to exit these beauty pageants for awhile and get back to fundamentals.

 

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IronTiger    799
1 minute ago, bobruss said:

I don't understand your why this again.

Because I got in a lot of pointless arguments with Slick Vik which dealt with almost the same talking points and more recently a discussion regarding the Galveston rail (especially if the argument was both "before its time" and "instant economy just add rail"). Also, I noticed that you changed your argument ("add rail" -> "more density" to "more density" -> "need rail").

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HoustonIsHome    1,273
2 hours ago, SkylineView said:

It may be semantics, but IMO, the core issue for non-inclusion was the site.  We shouldn't have presented a "please help us make our city better" location (east side)... we should have presented a "this is what Houston is all about and it's AWESOME" location.  Generation Park would have been ok, though it's damn far to town, and it's green-field.  There are lots of great big empty lots in this country, and we didn't need to show Amazon an empty lot, we needed to show them something that would have fit into the fabric, culture, and excitement of our town.

 

Trying to think of sites that I would have presented (and ignoring who owns them), I offer three options. 

1. The Rice-owned property on Main where the old Sears is going to close (in town, transit, colleges, area is dynamic and building, plenty of apartments and a good scene)

2. The Energy-Corridor at I-10 and HW 6 where plans show a campus similar to what this would become (bus transit, good highway connections, access to suburban homes and great schools, planned dense developement, Top Golf)

3. Around the future Bellaire transit station (transit, access to Uptown, 'relatively' convenient to areas out west)

 

These sites are true Houston, fit into an existing fabric (rather than trying to make something from scratch), and cater to the demographic of the Amazon workforce.

We shouldn't have put the success or failure of a neighborhood on the company, we should have invited them to participate in the ongoing success of an area.  

I think your number one location will be an excellent site for an urban campus if the university line is built I see this area having more desirability than downtown. I think downtown will improve once the near neighborhood are integrated more. Being surrounded by highways and homeless gives it an isolated feel.  UHD expansion, the post office site, 45 removal, revitalized theater district and the EADO projects will make downtown more integrated. I don't see Dallas street developing as a viable retail district until the near neighborhoods are tied in better.

 

Your number 2 would be an excellent suburban choice. The West side is highly populated, it has access to a variety of housing stock, lots of doing and entertainment options and closer to more business then generation park. 

 

I am not too familiar with the Bellaire transit center area.

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HOUTEX    60
4 hours ago, 102IAHexpress said:

 

How exactly can Houston's leaders diversify the economy? Are you suggesting some sort of state owned/controlled industry? Hysteria aside, Houston will be just fine. Fortunately Houston's leaders are pretty rational. If you want to see a case study on how local leaders can cause a mass exodus of citizens from a region, just look at the failed polices of Chicago's mayors and alderman. 

 

My two cents:

 

Long term pluses for Houston:

Johnson Space Center. NASA really put Houston on the map. Unfortunately the previous administration ended man space exploration. However the current administration is reversing that policy. That can only be good for Houston.

Bush Airport. Not really reported much but yesterday/today IAH launched a new route to Sydney. It's currently the second longest route from the US. Cities would kill for the amount of international routes Houston has. 

Energy: Again, favorable policies on energy will only help Houston.

Health Care: Baby boomers are getting older every day. 

Port of Houston:

Etc,...I could keep going but you get the picture.

 

 

You don't need a state to own or control an industry to diversify your local economy... you need a good municipal / regional recruiting agency and to be able to market your area's assets. The Greater Houston Partnership is notably weak on this subject and was very probably a contributing factor in a weak pitch to Amazon. What surprises me is for such a large MSA, there's notably very little ambition to be better, or to think big. HoustonIsHome nailed it on the head - there's complacency in the status quo.
 

Houston's biggest regional competition, Dallas, used to have a terrible reputation as dysfunctional city government and is often lambasted as the home of the "$30,000 Millionaire"...but even it's biggest detractors can't accuse Dallas of being small minded or complacent in not being a Tier 1 city. Correspondingly, city leaders in North Texas have made dedicated efforts in attracting new blood to the economy by selling the attractiveness of the school districts, high living standards and inland port. As a result, in the last handful of years MSA has seen Toyota totally relocate from California, and new offices for Liberty Mutual, State Farm, JP Morgan, and others...all solid, high paying, jobs that feed the economy. 

 

With respect to your "pluses," Houston is indeed better off for being strong in those industries, but isn't it somewhat outlandish that there's so few to note given the size of this market? Every economic forum or market outlook lunch I go to I hear the same refrain as speakers count them out on their fingers..."energy, aerospace, and medical"...as though these negate the weakness in other sectors like tech, finance or tourism. What's additionally perplexing to me is that aerospace (aka NASA) is so often spoken of as a pillar of the economy when it's job contribution is a fraction of other hard sciences...representing only 3% of the engineering jobs in town. In some respects it almost seems like "Space City" is hanging its hat on a by gone day. 

 

Houston has incredible neighborhoods and arguably a higher capacity to be a regional capital for business for the gulf coast states and yet we never see anything marketing why financial institutions, tech firms or new industries should plant roots here...let alone an attempt to counter the national narrative that Houston is an ugly industrial afterthought. Why? 

 

Energy will forever be a volatile marketplace and yet there seems no earnest public effort to plan for the future and really diversify the economy. Why?

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nate4l1f3    494
21 hours ago, ToryGattis said:

Enjoyed the article. You mentioned Austin and Dallas as better fits for Amazon. Speaking on Dallas only, why do you believe it’s a better fit for Amazon? I’m asking because I really don’t know. What doesn’t Dallas have that we don’t? Does Dallas have a better reputation than Houston outside of Texas?

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CREguy13    716
11 minutes ago, HOUTEX said:

Energy will forever be a volatile marketplace and yet there seems no earnest public effort to plan for the future and really diversify the economy. Why?

Notably very little ambition to be better, or think big?  The amount of change that has occurred in Houston over the past several years is remarkable.  Just because the city missed the Amazon bid and has not diversified at the quick pace you had hoped for, does not mean there is no public effort for the future.  If anything the rhetoric for the city over the past few years has been all on fostering a tech community and continuing to diversify..  There are a lot of eyes on our emerging life science sector and it is bringing a lot of big industry player's attention to the TMC, - this is an extremely exciting development for our city, among others.

 

And any association with Houston and complacency is laughable.

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ToryGattis    149
7 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I think the main think for these cities is guaranteeing themselves a future in the 21st century. Pittsburgh was relevant in the 20th century because of industry, but industry is gone. They need something new to be relevant. Newark is doling out more than anyone because they are a hellhole. They need to put themselves on the map again.

 

The intoxicating thing about HQ2 is that it's a magic bullet - you can instantly go from irrelevant to relevant. It's like hitting a grand slam when you're down 3-0. If you have 50,000 Amazon jobs, no one can say you're not a relevant city for tech. And more jobs will follow these.

 

Houston also needs to worry about its future post-oil, but the first thing we need to worry about now is flooding. Nothing else we do really matters if that fear is hanging over us. We might just need to exit these beauty pageants for awhile and get back to fundamentals.

 

 

Your "instant relevancy" reminds me of desperate sports teams that overpay for veteran free agent talent - it's a shortcut that almost never works out.  Better to build a foundation over time with young talent at affordable prices (like the Astros!).

 

5 hours ago, nate4l1f3 said:

Enjoyed the article. You mentioned Austin and Dallas as better fits for Amazon. Speaking on Dallas only, why do you believe it’s a better fit for Amazon? I’m asking because I really don’t know. What doesn’t Dallas have that we don’t? Does Dallas have a better reputation than Houston outside of Texas?

 

This is a tricky one. Of course I think Houston is better than Dallas - more global, more diverse, more authentic and organic (from the lack of zoning).  But outsiders just see "ugly" (we're not a tidy hyper-planned Disneyville) with a bunch of ethnicities and cultures they're not very comfortable with.  And the reality is that we're also more industrial with more hurricane and flooding risk (and summer humidity) than Dallas.  Dallas is better at the tidy planned bland suburban corporate office park HQ, esp. for more tech-type companies like TI, AT&T, telecoms, and Toyota.  They are a safe, comfortable choice with a fantastic airport and lots of flights to everywhere. But we also have to accept the reality that the energy industry is a two-edged sword: it provides lots of high-paying jobs, but that's also why companies in other industries don't want to locate here and compete with energy for talent - especially when oil might spike to $100+ a barrel at any time (btw, for the same reason I would be stunned if Amazon ended up in NYC competing with Wall Street for tech talent).  In Austin, tech competes with govt and the university - pretty easy.  In San Antonio, Toyota competes with tourism and the military - also pretty easy.  Dallas doesn't have any companies that might suddenly be swimming in cash and poaching your talent.  In fact, it has plenty of talent you can poach! (although not as much as DC, which I think will be the ultimate winner).  Put simply, Amazon wants to be the big fish in their new pond, and there's a definite risk that might not be the case in Houston (depending on energy prices).

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102IAHexpress    115
19 hours ago, HOUTEX said:

With respect to your "pluses," Houston is indeed better off for being strong in those industries, but isn't it somewhat outlandish that there's so few to note given the size of this market? Every economic forum or market outlook lunch I go to I hear the same refrain as speakers count them out on their fingers..."energy, aerospace, and medical"...as though these negate the weakness in other sectors like tech, finance or tourism. What's additionally perplexing to me is that aerospace (aka NASA) is so often spoken of as a pillar of the economy when it's job contribution is a fraction of other hard sciences...representing only 3% of the engineering jobs in town. In some respects it almost seems like "Space City" is hanging its hat on a by gone day. 

 

 

One thing to keep in mind is that Houston is the world leader in energy. That's a truly rare achievement. Very few cities are the world leader in any industry. Dallas has a growing banking and finance sector, but it's not the world leader. Austin has a booming tech sector but it's not the world leader. So where you see Houston being weak in other sectors you are glancing over the fact that Houston is the leader in a sector where most cities are just players in different sectors. Don't forget about cities that were former kings of an industry; Pittsburg, Detroit and how they would kill to still be a world leader in their respective sector today. Diversifying is important, however there's nothing wrong with trying to remain the leader in energy. 

 

I wouldn't support any policies that would cause Houston to lose its status as world leader in energy just to gain a larger market share in other industries that Houston will never be a leader in like, tech, finance or tourism. 

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ToryGattis    149
5 minutes ago, 102IAHexpress said:

 

One thing to keep in mind is that Houston is the world leader in energy. That's a truly rare achievement. Very few cities are the world leader in any industry. Dallas has a growing banking and finance sector, but it's not the world leader. Austin has a booming tech sector but it's not the world leader. So where you see Houston being weak in other sectors you are glancing over the fact that Houston is the leader in a sector where most cities are just players in different sectors. Don't forget about cities that were former kings of an industry; Pittsburg, Detroit and how they would kill to still be a world leader in their respective sector today. Diversifying is important, however there's nothing wrong with trying to remain the leader in energy. 

 

I wouldn't support any policies that would cause Houston to lose its status as world leader in energy just to gain a larger market share in other industries that Houston will never be a leader in like, tech, finance or tourism. 

I totally second this. If you look at any top-tier major global city, they usually have at least one industry cluster that is a world leader - finance in NYC, entertainment in LA, tech in SF - and the economics of those industries drive their city.  Houston is no different with energy.  Diversification is not bad, but if you look at typical diversified cities - Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Philly, etc - they're not usually considered top-tier global cities.

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HOUTEX    60

Like I said...complacency. 

 

https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2018/01/19/op-ed-why-amazons-rejection-of-houston-for-its-hq2.html

 

Quote

 I have friends, family, clients and consultants from various parts of the state, country and globe, and one thing is consistent: They think Houston is a working-class, dirty oil town. ... By beauty, I don’t mean it in the traditional sense where everything is shiny, polished and planned. 

 

The point here isn't that the author goes on to say people are pleasantly surprised when they visit Houston, but that the fallacy exists in the first place and is only overcome when people actually believe it when they see it with their own eyes.

 

Quote

Let’s just do more of the same. Let’s continue to be the world leader in energy, health care and space exploration..... Let’s continue to be ourselves: The underdog.

 

Like clockwork....

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HOUTEX    60
On 1/21/2018 at 9:42 AM, 102IAHexpress said:

 

One thing to keep in mind is that Houston is the world leader in energy. That's a truly rare achievement. Very few cities are the world leader in any industry. Dallas has a growing banking and finance sector, but it's not the world leader. Austin has a booming tech sector but it's not the world leader. So where you see Houston being weak in other sectors you are glancing over the fact that Houston is the leader in a sector where most cities are just players in different sectors. Don't forget about cities that were former kings of an industry; Pittsburg, Detroit and how they would kill to still be a world leader in their respective sector today. Diversifying is important, however there's nothing wrong with trying to remain the leader in energy. 

 

I wouldn't support any policies that would cause Houston to lose its status as world leader in energy just to gain a larger market share in other industries that Houston will never be a leader in like, tech, finance or tourism. 

 

I'm not sure I understand correlating policies that would encourage growth in new industries as leading to cannibalizing the prominence of the energy sector. Economic growth is not a zero-sum game, and in fact could have cross pollination effects that positively benefit unrelated industries.  

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Reefmonkey    33

I was a bit nonplussed about the claim of Dallas supposedly having better infrastructure and technical talent than Houston. Houston certainly is able to support HP and BMC. I get why Austin might appeal more to a company from Seattle, due to national perceptions of culture, livability, and then of course having Dell, but if Amazon were to pick Austin (which I think is a serious longshot), I don't think either party would be all that happy. As bad as Houston's city planning is, Austin's city leaders have always been provincial in mindset and the city's growth in the past 20+ years has outstripped its infrastructure, its ability to manage it, causing terrible traffic congestion, pricing the middle class out of home ownership anywhere with a reasonable commute into the city, overwhelming school districts and degrading the quality of education, and the whole cool laid back urban culture that Austin still touts as a reason to live there has been largely overrun and displaced.

 

I never expected Houston would get serious consideration, especially not after Harvey, and am rather glad for that. Houston, too, has grown too fast, out of control, since the 90s. All the boosters crying "come to Houston, our cost of living is so low" and "we need to bod on the Olympics, on the Superbowl, it'll show everyone how great we are and they'll want to move here" have been wildly irresponsible. Any Houston booster trying to woo outsiders by the droves to move to Houston is telling native and decades-long Houstonians "I don't care about you, your reward for your loyalty to this city is your property taxes are going to skyrocket, your commute is going to double in time, your risk of your house flooding is going to go way up."

 

Houston's median home price is $229,900, and Seattle's is $718,700. Homes that seem overpriced to Houstonians will look like a steal to anyone relocating from the Seattle area to set up HQ2. That would have bumped prices up even more than they already have gone up. That may sound great for you if you're wanting to sell your house, but remember, unless you're leaving the Houston area, you're going to be buying another house, and the Seattlite influx would have jacked up the cost of that house too. And all of us would be paying higher property taxes as well. That's what's so stupid about this national boosterism to try to get more people to live in Houston. Houston is ugly. It's hot and humid. It's floodprone. There is no real mass transit to speak of and traffic sucks. The main thing we have going for us as a city is our low cost of living, mostly related to cheap land and low taxes. But the more people you lure in, the more you cancel out those pluses. And the last thing Houston needs is more people on the road, more coastal prairie bulldozed and paved over to make more Cinco Ranches and Lakes of Eldridge. Texas as a whole, but especially Houston, needs to focus on making life better for the people already living here - property tax relief so a person's tax burden doesn't skyrocket even if his income hasn't just because his neighborhood has suddenly become desireable , better schools, better transportation, better climate resiliancy - before it works on luring in more people.

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