Bauer Business Focus

Houston Business Recruiter: Many Still See Houston As A One-Industry City

Greater Houston Partnership’s Susan Davenport discusses her work to get companies to come to the region.

Susan Davenport, senior vice president of economic development at the Greater Houston Partnership, says one big challenge is to educate people in other cities about Houston’s economic diversity.

There is no doubt that Houston’s economy heavily relies on its oil and gas industry.

But things have changed since the 1980s, when energy accounted for the vast majority of the region’s economy. Today, it is much more diversified.

Health care, transportation, manufacturing, aerospace and high tech are just some examples of Houston’s major industry sectors.

However, that reality still hasn’t reached all parts of the country, said Susan Davenport, senior vice president of economic development at the Greater Houston Partnership.

“It was misunderstood, it was always thought of as a city with one industry sector and that’s all we did,” she said. “We’re proud of being the energy capital of the world, but we are diversifying our economy.”

Davenport’s job is to communicate this to businesses around the nation and world as she is trying to recruit them to move here.

The GHP hired data analytics firm McKinsey to identify industries that would be most fit for business recruitment.

The firm came up with five sectors, Davenport said: headquarters, digital technology, life sciences, energy 2.0 and advanced manufacturing.

“Many of those sectors are ones that in the traditional sense we have great opportunities and a great structure here in Greater Houston already underway,” she said. “What we’re doing is leveraging that and we’re taking that to the next level as we look at the future opportunities surrounding those industry targets and sectors.”

What businesses look for most in a location is talent, Davenport said, and in particular future talent. That’s why the GHP focuses a lot on education, she said.

“It’s because we know that when companies are coming in here to make an investment in the Greater Houston region, they are looking at the future, right?” she said. “They don’t want to be here for a couple of years. They’re putting in place roots that they want to see grow for the future.”

Reasonable cost of living and cost of doing business as well as quality of life are also important factors, she said.

Click on the audio above to listen to the interview.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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