The Creative Economy of Houston
July 13, 2017
Houston is one of the largest and fastest growing final markets for creative industry services in the U.S. The city’s population growth since 2010, the largest of all U.S. metropolitan areas, has been so rapid that local demand for creative industry services of all kinds has outstripped demand, leading to a $15.1 B shortfall. That’s the amount of professional services purchased annually outside of Houston. This fact has profound implications for local businesses and professionals providing art, performance, and design services to the city’s business, institutional, leisure, and government sectors.
Houston, the nation’s 4th largest city, has been ranked the most diverse metropolitan area in the nation, supplanting both New York and Los Angeles in the number, variety, and size of ethnic communities that call it home. It hosts not only world-class companies in all of the performing arts, but has more Fortune 500 headquarters than any city other than New York. It has both the largest medical center in the world, and the nation’s largest foreign trade port, which by itself accounts for 16% of the State of Texas’ total GPD. Houston consistently ranks as one of the most affordable cities, and has a well-earned reputation for having some of this nation’s finest, and least expensive, food scenes. It is always at or near the top of the list of destination cities for U-Haul truck rentals.
In 2011 the Houston Arts Alliance, along with The University of Houston and The Greater Houston Partnership, commissioned a study to determine the size, scale, and economic impact of what was dubbed the ‘Creative Economy’, the amount of goods and services produced annually by the city’s creative professionals and support personnel. The 2014 report, The Creative Economy of Houston, revealed that the local Creative Economy produced $21.93 B in gross sales, of which $10.7 B was produced and sold locally, $1.4 B was exported, and $9.76 B was imported. This report was updated in 2015, and found that while gross Creative Economy sales had increased to $25.6 B (up 22% from 2011), the local/import shortfall had increased to $15.1 B (up 55% from 2011). No one expected this.
A phenomenal opportunity exists for Creative Economy professionals in Houston. The city generates upwards of $25 B in demand for creative goods and services, while delivering only 40% of that amount, or $10.5 B. This means that local providers of goods and services have an actual un-met market of $15 B of existing business that is theirs’ for the taking, if they have the skill, tenacity, and resources to compete for it. There are precious few places in the world where such market conditions exist in any industry, not mind a high quality-of-life and prolific multiplier like the Creative Economy. Houston is a remarkable city in many respects, but none so striking as the wide-open terrain of available opportunity for creative industry professionals of all kinds over the next fifty years. Yes, it is truly a great time to be a creative professional in The State of Texas.
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