I was recently asked, how can Houston continue to attract top tech companies and talent to the city. Interesting question. I see two things that have to happen.
First, we need to continue the branding and awareness of the Houston tech community to those outside of the Houston and Texas regions. I know it sounds old fashioned, but folks outside of the Texas region still consider Houston a two dimensional city. Energy and Space Exploration. While both of those are very important to Houston, the growth in the high tech, health care research and delivery, educational research, telecommunications and manufacturing will continue to outpace our baseline industries.
We see it every day, but those not as familiar to our community do not. That’s one of the reasons why PKF Texas created the Fast Tech 50 Awards program and brought that to the Houston Business Journal. We wanted to start the ball rolling on branding and awareness of the city as a source of great success in the tech sector. We are fully committed to making this sector a success for our city. One of the areas that the Houston Technology Center, HBJ, and our firm supports is the Rice Business Plan Competition. Its success and the information the participants receive during the competition has reached around the world. We had several plans from outside the U.S. this year. The Rice event has turned out to be so successful that Fortune Small Business decided to drop their own competition and endorse the Rice event. Also, working with the Greater Houston Partnership, Walter Ulrich, our President of the HTC was able to get Houston’s visibility changed with some national rankings recently with a national publication as well.
Second, we have to create jobs and fight for talented tech personnel to relocate to our city. This is no longer a fight for economic survival on a local, or regional basis. I recently had the opportunity to review some economic strategic planning from another region and they indicated they were fighting for business from communities their size in the domestic U.S. They couldn’t be further from the truth to be successful. In my opinion, we are fighting to secure talent to our community locally, from the global community. I can assure you Houston through organizations like the Greater Houston Partnership, and the HTC see things on a global basis and we want to compete globally for all kinds of business opportunities. Given our baseline business in Energy, this gives us a leg up on the acceptance of Houston as a global city and not just a city in Texas. Our cost of living and the baseline for salaries for tech personnel are very favorable to both companies and individuals alike. And our existing talent pool is just outstanding, some of the success stories we have in the tech sector would rival any region in the US and beyond.
How would you respond to that question? Are we doing enough to attract the tech community to Houston?