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More thinking about growth

Jobs and job growth for the region (Source: Greater Houston Parnership)

Since I’ve been carping about not enough talk about growth as a long-term financial management strategy for the city, I am compelled to note this op-ed in the Chron by newly elected HCC Trustee Carroll Robinson and Todd Clark, who are singing from my hymnal.

We have to support and grow more local small businesses and entrepreneurs while also working to attract more corporations (of all sizes), international visitors and skilled immigrants to our city.

Not only do we have to rebuild and maintain our physical infrastructure, we must also build and grow intellectual infrastructure and capital of our community. We must use our universities, the Texas Medical Center, Houston Technology Center, our venture capitalists and the intellectual talent and resources moving out of the Johnson Space Center as the foundation upon which to build.

We need to more actively promote Houston as a technology hub city. The city needs a high profile, High Tech Advisory Council to help recruit more technology start-ups and established enterprises to Houston. The city should help coordinate and host an annual High Tech Start Up Summit at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

[…]

We can fix the city’s long-range finances if we stay calm, work together and take full advantage of all of our competitive advantages. Houston is a city of colleges, the energy capital of the world, the home of the world’s largest medical center, a major international port and the best gateway to South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. Houston is an international city and we should take maximum advantage of that fact and the connections our residents have to the rest of the world.

These positive efforts should be our focus for fixing Houston’s long-range finances, not taking away pension benefits that were earned.

We already have too many people living in poverty in our city. Let’s not make cuts that will increase poverty in Houston. Let’s focus on creating the conditions – great schools, safe neighborhoods, art and cultural amenities, a strong private sector and organized workers – that will grow and sustain a broad middle class in Houston.

Clark is a member of the Long Term Financial Management Task Force, so seeing his name in the byline is encouraging. You may or may not agree with what they say here – I confess, any mention of buzzwords like “six sigma” makes my eyes glaze over – but the point is they’re talking about growth and not cuts, and that’s the way I want this conversation to go.

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