Everything’s Big in Texas

With an economy growing three times faster than the national average, Texas may be the state for your next big move.

Upon receiving the Business Facilities’ State of the Year Award in 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry said, “Part of the overall success of the Texas economy is a result of corporate CEOs choosing to relocate and grow their businesses in our state because we have what they need to succeed: smart people, regulatory certainty, low taxes, and a quality of life unmatched by any other state.”

Home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other state in the nation, Texas has created 1.2 million new jobs in the last five years. Astoundingly, more than half of all jobs created in the United States in 2007 were in Texas.

“Just about any way you cut it, Texas is the best place in the country to do business. We have worked hard to create a climate where people can come and risk their capital and know a good return on investment can be expected,” Perry says. “We have reasonable regulations, low taxes, a balanced tort system, and an educated workforce-all the ingredients for success.”

One of the biggest complaints the governor heard from companies was high property taxes, so two years ago he cut school property taxes by one third. Now Texas has one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation-28% lower than the U.S. average.

On the energy front, Texas is making investments in renewables-in fact, the Lone Star state leads the nation in wind energy production. The state also is investing in clean coal technologies. Texas has nuclear power plants-a significant expansion of an existing plant and entirely new plant-in the permitting process right now.

“Knowledge and capital are rapidly being deployed to parts of the world where the right combination of talent, technology, business climate, infrastructure, and markets converge,” says Perry. “I believe Texas is that place, now more than ever.”

San Antonio: Recession Proof and Ready for Business

As the seventh largest city in the United States, San Antonio offers a variety of reasons, such as a thriving economy, affordable utilities, and an excellent quality of life, for businesses to consider expanding or relocating.

Forbes magazine recently ranked San Antonio the second most “recession proof” U.S. city, citing its solid employment figures and growing industries. The local economy is a healthy mix of business services, biomedical technology and research, a diversified manufacturing sector, a growing IT industry, and a thriving military community.

Businesses with corporate headquarters or major regional offices located in San Antonio include H-E-B Food Stores, USAA, Valero Energy, Wachovia, and Citibank. The city also is home to a thriving bioscience and healthcare community; with an annual economic impact of more than $15 billion and 113,000 employees, it is the city’s number one economic generator.

In 2006, the manufacturing industry accounted for a $14.4 billion economic impact as local manufacturers employed more than 52,700 people to produce everything from specialty medical products and pharmaceuticals to concrete, steel, and automotive parts.

The city’s IT industry is rapidly expanding, with Microsoft scheduled to open a $550 million data center in September. Additionally, Rackspace’s 1,470 employees will settle into a new headquarters at the renovated 1.2 million-square-foot Windsor Park Mall building by 2009.

The city also has a strong military presence with a $13.3 billion annual economic impact and jobs for more than 190,000 people across Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph AFB, Port San Antonio (formerly Kelly AFB), Brooks City-Base (formerly Brooks AFB), and Fort Sam Houston, which is slated to be transformed into a hub for all military medical and training research by 2011.

San Antonio’s locally owned and operated utility companies, CPS Energy and San Antonio Water System (SAWS) offer reliable and affordable electricity, gas, and water with rates among the lowest in the nation. The city’s low energy costs are one of the key factors that led the Boyd Co. to select San Antonio among the top 10 U.S. cities to locate a secure corporate data center. Both utilities offer innovative resources to help businesses operate efficiently and remain competitive. SAWS recently announced that Microsoft will participate in its recycled water program to help cool down its computer servers. In addition, CPS Energy ranks number one in wind energy capacity among the nation’s municipally owned utilities, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s 2008 rankings of wind power leadership in the United States.

San Antonio offers a qualified workforce of more than 900,000 people. In addition to this labor pool, more than 126,000 students are preparing to enter the workforce from the 13 colleges and universities in the San Antonio area. Businesses also may benefit from the many services available to them at no cost through Workforce Solutions Alamo, the region’s state-funded workforce partner. Some of these services include recruitment, screening and training of qualified applicants, participation in job fairs, and assistance in accessing tax incentive programs.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median sales price of a single-family home during the first quarter of 2008 in San Antonio was $149,800. And, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research, San Antonio has a cost of living that is well below the national average.

San Antonio has an excellent quality of life, offering everything from professional sports, theme parks, and museums to nationally acclaimed arts and cultural organizations. The city is Texas’ number one tourist destination with more than 20 million people visiting annually. Spectator sports include men’s and women’s professional basketball, minor league hockey, minor league baseball, a professional golf tournament, and a Class I thoroughbred and quarter horse racetrack. Other major attractions include the Alamo, Sea World, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, El Mercado, the Tower of the Americas, and the San Antonio River Walk. With its variety of incentives and world class charm, San Antonio continues to be an appealing place for companies to do business.

McGregor: Central Texas at its Best

McGregor, TX, a central Texas community adjacent to Waco, is a thriving community of 5,500 residents. Founded in the late 1800s at the crossroads of the Cotton Belt and Santa Fe rail lines, McGregor has all of the attributes anyone could wish for: great weather, great resources, and friendly folks.

McGregor’s school system boasts one of the best in Texas, and students have tested above average for the state and nation for the SAT and ACT exams. You can find branches of McLennan County Community College and Texas State Technical College, while Baylor University is just down the road in Waco. Six more colleges and universities are within easy commute and they all offer standard and advanced courses, plus specialized training. The Heart of Texas Workforce Board also offers special training and funds for individual corporate specialties.

The BNSF and Amtrak mainline runs through, with a downtown depot (the Cotton Belt is no longer running). Interstate 35 is just 10 miles from McGregor via U.S. Highway 84, a four lane divided highway that runs east and west. Waco Regional and Killeen Regional Airports service the area with direct flights to Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Atlanta.

The local labor force of 250,000 is ready and willing to work. Fort Hood produces approximately 1,500 veterans per month, most of whom desire to stay and work in the Central Texas area.

Recently, McGregor took a blow to its economy with the closing of a Naval Weapons Reserve Base, but looked upon it as an opportunity to reinvent itself, turning the entire 9,700 acres into an industrial park. With full utilities, paved streets, and a number of buildings, they began marketing the new McGregor Industrial Park for diversification of its industrial base. In a few short years it has attracted firms like Dell McGregor Business Center, Ferguson Enterprises, Insituform Technologies, Trane A/C, Smead Manufacturing, and Space Exploration Technologies.

A major part of McGregor’s ability to attract Fortune 500 and other firms is its sincere dedication and willingness to assist in a company’s needs. Incentives aside, and there are lots of them, the city of McGregor is ready and willing to listen to companies’ desires and try its best to fulfill them. Hence they have over 1,200 employees in their industrial park with 12 companies and 25 manufacturers in the city. Not too bad for a small town in central Texas!

Pearland’s Strategic Location Benefits Business

Location is everything and Pearland, TX is the prime location for business. Now the fastest growing suburb of Houston and 34th fastest in the nation, according to Forbes, Pearland spans 72.63 square miles.

Located along Highway 288, Houston’s major transportation corridor to the south, Pearland is the perfect blend of big city business and small city living. Situated in both Harris County and northern Brazoria County, Pearland is ideally positioned minutes away from downtown Houston, the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, two major ports, and numerous airport systems.

Perhaps most impressive is Pearland’s strategic proximity to the Texas Medical Center, said to be the largest concentration of medical facilities in the world. A mere eight freeway miles away, Pearland offers a degree of convenience that’s proven to be a magnet for a growing number of health care suppliers, biotech organizations, support operations, and the thousands of skilled professionals they employ.

Among the many new developments choosing to call Pearland home are Pearland Town Center-a 750,000-square-foot, open-air shopping mall being developed by CBL & Associates; a Hilton conference center; a premier Class A office development; and the WaterLights District mixed-use development that will feature 42 larger-than-life statues of all the U.S. presidents.

During the past seven years, Pearland has doubled its population and added millions of feet of retail space. The city’s leadership strategically managed growth with zoning and bond issues to pay for roads, parks, sewer lines, and other needs to keep up with the population surge. Last year, voters approved a $163 million bond to support new infrastructure and green space.

Pearland’s growth attracts retailers that see an affluent base of shoppers in the city. Expected to have a population of nearly 96,000 in 2011 and 400,000 people within a 15-minute drive, Pearland has the coveted household demographics developers need to secure project financing.

A growing community means companies have access to Pearland’s diverse and plentiful workforce. With the expanding business opportunities available, the prospect of working in and enhancing their community will be a compelling incentive to many future employees.

To ensure the continued growth of a well-trained populace, the City of Pearland participates in the Northern Brazoria County Education Alliance. This partnership provides state-of-the-art training to students to meet the increasing needs of the diverse industries that support the region.

And, in 2009, the University of Houston-Clear Lake plans to open a campus in Pearland. The new campus will offer a convenient location for those looking to continue their college education and increase their professional development in subjects such as business and education.

As the preeminent suburb community to Houston, Pearland offers the convenience of a 15-minute drive to all of the benefits Houston has to offer. Pearland’s corporate citizens benefit from Houston’s vibrant economy, which spans a broad spectrum of industries including health care, technology, oil and gas, aeronautics, and manufacturing.

Second only to New York City, Houston is headquarters to 23 Fortune 500 companies. Commercially, Houston is ranked as a world city, and the area is a leading center for building oilfield equipment. Due to its large concentration of oil and gas expertise and experience, Houston is the energy capital of the world.

With a growth curve that extends well into the 21st century, abundant land and business facilities, a sound infrastructure, three foreign trade zones, and an ample and diverse workforce supported by educational programs, Pearland features all of the resources needed to operate a successful and profitable business.

Port Freeport: A Catalyst for Growth

Port Freeport currently ranks 13th among U.S. ports in international cargo tonnage handled. With a current channel depth of 45 feet, which soon will be widened and deepened, and just three miles from the Gulf of Mexico’s open waters, Port Freeport offers more than 7,500 acres for future development. The port serves its customers through development and marketing of competitive world class navigational capabilities, technically advanced marine and multimodal terminal services, and port-related industrial facilities while achieving profits and creating jobs as an economic catalyst for the Texas Gulf Coast.

Port officials have embarked on their first major terminal development endeavor in four decades. “This new project is a direct product of Port Freeport’s master planning effort and comes at a critical time in our port’s history in which unprecedented growth is taking place,” said Port Commissioner J.M. “Mike” Lowrey at the groundbreaking. “The Velasco Terminal will facilitate Port Freeport having a still greater positive economic impact upon the community we serve.”

Executive Port Director A.J. “Pete” Reixach Jr. says the Velasco Terminal, which is to include the port’s seventh cargo berth, involves the completion of an initial 800-foot backland development. The entire Velasco Terminal project is planned for a total of 2,400 linear feet of berth space with approximately 100 acres of backland development that could handle as many as 800,000 to 1 million 20-foot equivalent container units each year. The Velasco Terminal plan already has attracted substantial interest from throughout the world.

Culminating more than seven years of effort, the Freeport LNG (liquid natural gas) terminal on Port Freeport’s Quintana Island property is in operation, having received its first vessel shipment of liquefied natural gas in April.

The $750 million project, developed by Freeport LNG Development L.P. and ConocoPhillips, already has been a generator of more than 1,500 construction jobs and will maintain a role as a significant force in the economic well-being of Port Freeport and Brazoria County, as well as in providing a ready source of eco-friendly energy.

The Freeport LNG receiving terminal and regasification facility, which entered planning stages in early 2001, now is in service on 172 acres on Quintana Island, where its twin white tank domes have quickly become a landmark for mariners and fishermen alike.

The terminal’s first vessel call came on April 15 when a 908-foot tanker arrived from Trinidad and Tobago carrying 133,000 cubic meters of LNG. On May 9, a second vessel brought a similar shipment, with enough combined offloaded cargo to fill the two tanks to 80 percent of storage capacity.

“We’re delighted to see these ships come in and the commissioning of our plant,” says Bill Henry, vice president of Freeport LNG Development L.P. “We’re really excited about bringing additional ships and LNG into Port Freeport.”

By the end of 2008, wind energy units capable of producing enough electricity to power 2 million U.S. homes are anticipated to have moved through Port Freeport, according to officials from RBC Projects LLC.

Since April 2007, Houston-based cargo specialist RBC Projects has imported into Port Freeport wind turbines able to generate power for nearly 700,000 homes. The units have included 200 turbines of 2.1-megawatt capacity and 31 with 1.25-megawatt capacities, all made in India by Suzlon Energy Ltd., a major manufacturer of wind turbines.

“We are hoping to increase the shipments to nearly 500 turbines in 2008,” says RBC President Prasad Menon. “In order to accommodate the increasing shipments, Suzlon has increased its acreage at Port Freeport from 15 acres to 25 acres.

“We are also anticipating an increase in ship calls from 12 ships presently to about 25 ships in 2008,” Menon adds. “This increase in imports and terminal activity will result in more labor employment at Port Freeport.” “It is truly exciting to play a role in the nation’s efforts to utilize alternative, environmentally friendly energy,” says Port Freeport Managing Director Phyllis Saathoff.

Midlothian: Crossroads to Success

Everyone knows that “location, location, location” are the three main factors to consider when making a real estate decision. Now that Midlothian is on the radar screen of many large commercial and industrial site locators, it is rapidly becoming a favored choice within the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Why?  Because Midlothian offers:

1) excellent access to markets providing a favorable impact on the bottom line;

2) competitive low cost site development with all the key infrastructure services at site; and

3) a community accustomed to industrial and commercial neighbors that continues to encourage new growth in these sectors by maintaining a pro business environment and an excellent quality of life.

Ground transportation corridors are essential to the success of many operations. Midlothian is located at the crossroads of US 67 and US 287 with easy access to Mexico and Canada via I-35 and the NAFTA Corridor. The community is just 30 minutes south of Dallas, Fort Worth, and DFW International Airport.

For longer haul situations, rail can be the preferred delivery system. Midlothian is at the crossroads of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) and the Union Pacific (UP) rail systems. Both The Auto Park and RailPort have true “at dock” dual-rail service where the shipper can stand at his dock and negotiate prices with either rail provider.

Midlothian also provides competitive low-cost site development. MidWay Regional Airport on US 287 between Midlothian and Waxahachie provides corporations with an aviation fleet and easy access to their facilities in North Ellis County. Corporate jets have access to a 24/7 full service FBO with low-cost refueling, and courtesy cars also are available. Mid-Way is a 243-acre general aviation airport and an excellent location for an aviation related operation. Airborne Imaging, with two DC3s and five additional planes, was among the first to locate its corporate hanger at Mid-Way. The airport now has four box hangers housing over 100 airplanes and is currently undergoing an expansion, which includes a runway extension to 6,500 feet.

The Auto Park is a 600-acre light industrial park that fronts US 67 on the north side of Midlothian. It is a secured, private facility with dual rail access. The Auto Park is 50% developed with a full service automobile distribution and processing center with intermodal facilities. MidTexas International works with each user to design a facility that meets its individual needs. Major tenants in The Auto Park include Mazda North America, Kia Motors America, Inc., and Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.

The RailPort is a 1700-acre dual rail business park located on US 67. The mixed-use park is zoned heavy to light industrial and commercial. The park is home to a 1.35-million square-foot Target distribution center; the 850,000-square-foot Toys “R” Us distribution center; and Midlothian International Power, a 1,650megawatt power plant. In 2008, Eagle Roofing Products will begin construction on a 360,000-squarefoot manufacturing facility.

For decades, Midlothian has been known for its industrial manufacturing base, particularly in Portland cement. In recent years, Midlothian’s industry has grown to include steel production, power generation, and a sundry of other manufacturing concerns. The development of Walnut Grove Business Centre by Ken Pritchett Properties, Inc. on the east side of the city continues the diversification of the Midlothian economic base. Walnut Grove Business Centre is a high quality commercial business park with tenants such as Ennis, Inc., Methodist Charlton Medical Center, numerous other medical offices, and retail space.

The nearly 27,000 people that call Midlothian home have the best of both worlds. They enjoy quiet, country living with a low crime rate, family friendly neighborhoods, and an excellent education system which includes Navarro College and Texas A&M-Commerce. Yet residents have easy access to any and every type of amenity available in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Midlothian’s close proximity to the Metroplex gives its companies access to a skilled workforce eager to work south of Dallas and Tarrant Counties. A recent study showed that Midlothian had an available workforce of nearly 500,000 people. When the Target distribution center conducted its job fair, they had over 13,000 people apply for approximately 620 jobs. Ennis, Inc. not only hired additional executive staff for their corporate headquarters, but they also staffed their central IT and marketing departments with ease.

Midlothian is a pro-business community that welcomes quality conscious industrial and corporate citizens alike. The region is the Crossroads to Success, offering incentives including a Freeport Tax Exemption, a number of tax abatements, an Enterprise Zone, a Foreign Trade Zone, and Chapter 380 agreements.

Port of Brownsville: High Demand and Better Facilities

Located at the southern tip of Texas and connected to the Gulf of Mexico, the Port of Brownsville is a first-class, deep-water seaport that continues to be a busy hub of transportation options. Its five modes of available transportation include ship, barge, rail, truck, and air. Combine this with ample acreage, over 48,000 acres for development, and its location on the Texas/Mexico border, and you have an international seaport with all of the advantages.

The port is a major center of industrial development with over 250 companies operating within its boundaries. The construction and repair of offshore drilling rigs, ship dismantling, steel fabrication, and paper bag manufacturing are just a few of the many diverse companies doing business here. Add to this the LPG storage/distribution, waste oil recovery, scrap recycling, bulk terminaling for miscellaneous liquids, grain handling, and grain storage activity, and you have a very long list of industrial activity at the Port of Brownsville.

All around the port, roads have been reconstructed, sheds have been upgraded, and docks have been improved and updated. Work never stops at this International Sea Port as ongoing projects continue to give us the tools needed to create jobs and wealth for our community. Present cargo facilities include 11 deep draft dry cargo docks (10 with adjacent warehouses), five deep draft liquid cargo docks, and one dry cargo barge dock. In addition, it offers 720,000 square feet of transit shed space, sprinkler-equipped overhead cranes, and 450,000 square feet of open dockside aprons with the advantage of dry, rail-served cargo docks.

Increasing demands in several markets, our competitive rates, and our distinct logistical advantage are keeping the Port of Brownsville bustling. As it approaches its seventh decade and look ahead to the future, new opportunities continue to arise, helping lead us to economic success. More and more businesses are discovering the advantages of the business friendly NAFTA Port of Brownsville, and we are ready and willing to accommodate their needs.

Mission, TX Captures Investor Attention

If you’ve never heard of Mission and the U.S.-Mexico border towns of the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, it is in your best economic interest to remember them. In the last decade, the southern border of the United States has seen tremendous development, and investors are discovering what is amounting to a modern-day gold rush.

About 200 miles south of San Antonio, the Mission MSA is one of the most exciting enclaves of economic prosperity in the nation. New businesses open weekly to serve a rapidly growing population of more than 720,000 people.

Twenty years ago, the area held less than half the current population, with an economy focused around agriculture. Since then, a wave of investment has changed thousands of farmland acres into shopping centers, residential subdivisions, and industrial parks. Local expansion and the relocation of more than 500 industrial companies, including several in the Fortune 500, have created more than 120,000 new jobs.

Keeping up with the growing job market, the population has increased by more than 150,000 since the 2000 census and is projected to double by 2025.

Centrally located in one of the nation’s largest trading blocks, industries like automotive, aerospace, electronics, appliances, warranty repair, and medical supplies have recognized Mission as the best location for their regional and support facilities.

Appliance manufacturer Fisher & Paykel is set to take over the former Maytag facility in Reynosa, Mexico and is estimated to save roughly $50 million annually from consolidated operations and lower labor costs.

In another development, the Rapid Response Manufacturing Center is a university-related research, engineering, and design center that enables manufacturers, businesses, and entrepreneurs to take products from concept to marketplace quickly and economically.

As for infrastructure, eight international bridges connect southern Texas with the industrial border communities of Reynosa and Matamoros, and the nearby interior city of Monterrey, Mexico. Together, regional population totals more than five million people, with the Mission area being the nearest U.S. retail market. Another bridge, Anzalduas International Crossing, which links Reynosa to Mission, is scheduled to open in 2009. Another crossing in the metro area has also been announced recently.

Thousands of annual crossings have improved with the opening of the SENTRI lanes, which allow quicker access from Mexico. In addition, shoppers spent more than $2.5 billion in 2006, making the Mission MSA one of the most dynamic retail shopping areas in the nation.

Area leaders on the U.S. side have also been keen to other infrastructure planning needs, creating a new six-lane expressway connecting the entire Valley. Another major artery of transportation will be America’s newest Interstate Highway, I-69, which will connect trade routes from Mexico and Latin America to the United States and Canada—with Mission as the center of that connection hub.

South Texas continues to thrive because of its low cost of living, career opportunities, and convenient location. Every day more companies discover the Valley and relocate to the “border towns” that have become one of the most exciting, prosperous metropolitan areas in the nation.

TXU-Oncor: Advanced Meters Bring Benefits to Consumers

Over the years, technology advancements have brought a number of benefits to our everyday lives; cell phones enable us to stay in touch anywhere we go and laptops keep us online regardless of where we are.

Texas is about to become a world leader with the next wave of technology deployments—in your electric meter. Texas policy makers have challenged the industry to deploy some of the most advanced electric meters, bringing significant benefits to consumers and the environment.

Current electric meters are using technology that actually is older than the technology in rotary phones—replaced long ago. These new meters will give consumers information they need to make more informed decisions which will enable them to conserve more easily. Global studies have shown that by simply having the information available at their fingertips, consumers can cut their usage by at least five percent.

During the next four years, Oncor will be among the global leaders in this technology deployment as the company installs more than 3 million advanced technology electric meters throughout its delivery network. Every home and business in Oncor’s service area, which covers approximately one third of Texas, will be equipped with advanced meters. With its new advance meter deployment—the largest deployment in the nation—Oncor will change the way Texans use and think about electricity.

If consumers in Oncor’s service territory are able to conserve five percent, as global studies have shown others have reached, the savings will top $300 million annually. The environment also will benefit, as the emissions from 1.9 billion kWh will no longer be put into the air.

“It’s essentially an electricity speedometer that puts control in the hands of consumers,” says Oncor CEO Bob Shapard. “More efficient use of electricity will also reduce the need for new generation plants and help keep our air cleaner.”

In addition to the potential economic and conservation benefits, these advanced meters will improve overall reliability of the electric system. The advanced meters have two-way communications capability that will help minimize the number and duration of power outages by providing an ongoing picture of system outages and potential trouble spots.

With this leading edge technology, utilities can read meters remotely, potentially avoiding estimated meter readings, skipped meters, and inconvenience to consumers with hard-toreach meters.

As with any new technology, the new meters will only create the benefits if consumers know how to use them. To teach consumers about the capabilities of the new meters, Oncor kicked off its SMART TEXAS Rethinking Energy consumer education program and tour in May.

The tour uses a 1,000-square-foot Mobile Experience Center (MEC) equipped with six “experience centers” to display the benefits that can be achieved with the information provided by Oncor’s new advanced meter technology. Benefits include a greater awareness of how and when energy is being consumed and, therefore, the ability to control energy consumption in order to reduce consumers’ electric bills and help the environment. The MEC uses videos, interactive kiosks, and real world demonstrations to show consumers how to achieve these benefits.

The MEC marks the first time in the nation that a utility company has brought an educational experience of this kind directly to the communities it serves, and reached more than 2,500 consumers during its first tour. Over the next four years, Oncor plans to educate hundreds of thousands of consumers with the MEC.

Greater Houston: Experts Rank it #1 for Growth

Why consider Houston for your next location? Quite simply, Houston means success. The region has everything companies need—from a workforce of more than 2.7 million to a reputation as a technology center.

But Houston offers so much more: real estate priced below the national average, a solid transportation infrastructure, appealing business incentives, and wage rates that help companies compete around the world. These are just a few of the benefits, and if you think Texas has accolades, then wait until you see what the experts are saying about

Houston’s business climate. In the past three months alone, Houston has been ranked the best of the best by some of the most well-known publications in the world.

But what puts Houston at the top of the list? Houston is business friendly. In addition to providing an excellent environment for startup and small- to mid-sized companies, the Houston region is known worldwide as a major corporate center. For example, 26 companies on the 2008 Fortune 500 list are headquartered in Houston and many other Fortune 500 companies maintain U.S. administrative headquarters there. In fact, Houston ranks third in the nation for Fortune 500 headquarters according to a ranking by Fortune magazine in April 2008. Not only that, but 19 of 2007’s fastest growing companies in Fortune 100 are headquartered in Houston. Of the world’s 100 largest non-U.S. based corporations, at least 51 have non-retail operations in Houston.

No wonder the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown Metropolitan Statistical Area gained 912,694 residents between the 2000 census and July 1, 2007, an increase of 19.4%, according to population estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. That gain puts the total population of the 10-county region at 5,628,101 people, making it the sixth most populated metropolitan area in the United States. If the Houston MSA was a state, it would rank 19th based on population, having surpassed both Wisconsin and Maryland in the past year. This means you can guarantee that Houston has a solid, available workforce.

With more than 2.7 million workers in the Houston metro area, the region has an ample supply of workers to meet any employer’s needs—now and in the future. And that’s not going to change any time soon since Houston is the academic center of the Southwest. More than 300,000 students in the region were enrolled in more than 60 degree-granting colleges, universities, institutes, and technical schools in the fall of 2007. The Texas Medical Center, Rice University, University of St. Thomas, Texas Southern University,

Houston Baptist University, The University of Houston, and Houston Community College are just a few of the region’s major institutions of higher learning. And eager college graduates mean a skilled pool of potential employees.

The Greater Houston Partnership traces its roots to Houston’s original chamber of commerce, founded in 1840. The Partnership was formed in 1989, as a merger of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Economic Development Council, and the Houston World Trade Center. Its principal objective is to build regional economic prosperity.

Opportunity Houston is a part of the Greater Houston Partnership’s 10-year strategic plan which aims to create 600,000 net regional jobs, attract $60 billion in capital investment, and increase foreign trading by $120 billion for the greater Houston area.

Opportunity Houston targets five  major economic sectors identified by The Perryman Group as critical to Houston’s future prosperity: aviation and aerospace, energy and petrochemical, medical and biotechnology, information technology, and nanotechnology.