Houston ranked among best metros for Black professionals

inclusive ecosystem

A new report finds that Houston is a top city for Black professionals. Photo via Getty Images

A WalletHub study released in 2021 crowned Houston the most diverse city in the U.S. So it shouldn't really come as a surprise that Bayou City ranks among the country’s best cities for Black professionals.

A new ranking compiled by Black employees at Apartment List puts Houston at No. 4 among the best cities for Black professionals. The Apartment List employees judged 82 cities in four categories:

  • Business environment for Black professionals. Houston ranks third.
  • Black community and representation. Houston ranks fourth.
  • Economic opportunities for Black professionals. Houston ranks seventh.
  • Housing opportunities for Black professionals. Houston ranks 20th.

Apartment List combined the scores in each of those categories to come up with an overall score for each city. Houston’s final score was 63.8, with 100 being the highest possible score. The company released the ranking in conjunction with Black History Month.

Apartment List lauds Houston’s showing in three of the four categories, but dings the city for its relatively low score for housing opportunities. The website points out that 42 percent of black households in Houston spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

In praising Houston’s environment for Black professionals, Apartment List cites the city’s large Black population (22.6 percent), its representation in critical occupations (about one-fifth of teachers and doctors are black), and the presence of Texas Southern University, an HBCU. Furthermore, Apartment list notes that a big share of Houston businesses are black-owned.

In 2016, Black Enterprise magazine dubbed Houston the country’s “Next Great Black Business Mecca.”

In a 2019 post on Medium, digital marketer and Los Angeles native Shameen Yakubu placed Houston at No. 2 on his list of the six cities he’d considered moving to as a Black professional. (San Antonio topped his list, and his LinkedIn profile indicates he now lives there.) Yakubu cited Houston’s large Black population, diversity, and affordability as some of the factors in the city’s favor.

“One of the things that [attracts] me to Houston is the number of [Black] professionals and entrepreneurs. Texas, in general, is a very pro-business state,” Yakubu wrote.

Three other Texas cities join Houston in Apartment List’s top 10:

  • San Antonio, No. 3, final score of 66.08.
  • Dallas, No. 5, final score of 60.6.
  • Austin, No. 9 (tie), final score of 57.1.

In descending order, here are the top 10 cities for Black professionals, according to Apartment List:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Atlanta
  • San Antonio
  • Houston
  • Dallas
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Lakeland, Florida
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Austin (tie)
  • Baltimore (tie)
Houston "super commuters" travel 90-plus minutes each way. Photo via Getty Images

Houston's number of 'super commuters' driven up by almost 70 percent, says new report

on the road again

Long commutes are nothing new in Houston. The average worker in Houston spent nearly 27 minutes commuting to work each day — above the national average of 26.4.

A new development in shuttling to work has developed: super commuters. In fact, the number of so-called "super commuters" — those traveling at least 90 minutes to get to work, and another 90 minutes or more to get home, is on the rise.

According to newly released data from new analysis by Apartment List of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Houston area boasts 85,000 super commuters in the region, representing 2.6 percent of our total workforce.

The number of super commuters in the Houston region grew by 68.3 percent from 2010-2019, compared to the 23.0 percent growth rate of the region's overall workforce.

Houston ranks tenth among the regions in the study for the number of super commuters in 2019.

Some 13 percent of the region's super commuters live within a 10-mile radius of downtown, says Apartment List data, demonstrating that not all super commuters travel long distances. Nationally, 13.5 percent of all workers who commute by public transit are super commuters, and transit riders are five times more likely to be super commuters compared to drivers.

In the Greater Houston region, super commuting is most prevalent in Trinity County, where 11 percent of all workers are super commuters, per Apartment List.

According to Apartment List, the rise of remote work "is unlikely to meaningfully alleviate" the long-term trend of more American workers becoming super commuters.

"Since the start of the pandemic, the fastest rent growth in large metros has been occurring in the further suburbs and exurbs, indicating that hybrid remote work arrangement[s] could create a new class of part-time super commuters," Apartment list notes.

In Texas, North Texas grew 49 percent in super commuters from 2010 to 2019.

Stockton, California, notched the biggest share of super commuters in the study (25 percent of the workforce). Elsewhere in Northern California, the San Francisco Bay Area saw the largest growth rate for super commuting from 2010 to 2019 — a whopping 255 percent.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Graduates are tossing their hats into an uncertain world right now. Photo by skynesher/Getty Images

Houston earns mediocre grade in ranking of best metros for college grads

WELCOME TO THE UNREAL WORLD

This year's college graduates are entering a real world that's more unreal than any we've seen in our lifetimes. And they're facing a world with uncertain prospects.

Against that jarring backdrop, the Apartment List website developed a ranking of the top U.S. metro areas for college graduates, and Houston sits in the middle of the pack. The Bayou City ranks 26th among the country's 50 largest metro areas.

The ranking, published May 13, takes into account six data points:

  • Average wages among recent college graduates
  • March 2020 unemployment rate
  • Rental costs for recent college graduates
  • Share of adult population with a college degree
  • Share of recent college graduates working in remote-friendly occupations
  • Share of workforce in high-risk industries

Houston fares well in terms of average wages among recent college graduates ($46,681) and college graduates working in remote-friendly occupations (73 percent), but doesn't fare as well for the share of adults with a college degree (31 percent) and the share of full-time workers in high-risk industries (13 percent).

Austin appears at No. 6 on the list, with Dallas-Fort Worth at 21 and San Antonio at No. 43. Apartment List says Austin's economic scores "are well-rounded across the board," but the metro area stands out for its high share of college-educated adults (43 percent) and high share of college graduates working in remote-friendly occupations (77 percent).

"Each of the nation's five largest metropolitan areas — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston — failed to break the Top 10," Apartment List notes. "The Class of 2020 is better off looking into smaller regions that strike a healthier balance between affordability and economic opportunity."

San Jose, California, the epicenter of Silicon Valley, tops the ranking, followed by San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Boston; and Milwaukee.

Ranked last is Las Vegas, preceded by Riverside-San Bernardino, California; New Orleans; Miami; and Orlando, Florida.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Chicago and New York residents are eyeing Houston. Getty Images

Report finds two major metros are the biggest sources of new Houstonians

new to hou

Despite the current state of things — a pandemic, historic unemployment numbers, and an unstable economy — people are still thinking of moving. And, according to Apartment List, they have eyes on Texas.

The website's quarterly Renter Migration Report is out, using searches made on its platform between January 1 and April 15, 2020, to map where renters are looking to make their next move.

Chicago (3.3 percent), New York (3.4 percent), and San Antonio (22.8 percent) are also eyeing Houston, while H-Town residents are looking to keep it close in Dallas (8.9 percent), San Antonio (6.8 percent), and Austin (6.6 percent).

Austin is the most popular Texas city in the report, with the region increasingly being seen as an alternative to the expensive coastal metros where tech jobs have historically clustered. A staggering 70.9 percent of searches for apartments in Austin come from outside the metro, Apartment List reports, the highest share among the nation's 50 largest metros.

Aside from the 25 percent searching from San Antonio, the 4.6 percent from Dallas, and the 4.5 percent from Houston, 4.2 percent of renters searching for apartments in Austin currently live in the New York City metro. Furthermore, 2.5 percent of inbound searches to Austin are coming from Los Angeles and an additional 2.5 percent are coming from the San Francisco Bay Area.

For as many people who want to enter Austin from San Antonio, there's nearly the same amount that would be doing the opposite. Austin renters searched for San Antonio (16.8 percent), Dallas (7.9 percent), and College Station (6.4 percent).

While current Chicago residents and New Yorkers are typing "Dallas" into their search bars, accounting for 3.6 percent and 3 percent of data exploring Big D, respectively, it's San Antonians who are truly interested. A whopping 23.1 percent of current Alamo City residents made exploratory apartment searches in Dallas this past quarter. Overall, 32.8 percent of those looking for a place to live in Dallas are searching from outside the metro.

Meanwhile, 8.7 percent of apartment hunters currently living in Dallas are looking to move elsewhere. They searched for Houston (4.9 percent), San Antonio (4.8 percent), and Los Angeles (4.5 percent).

And though we've heard about it several times, where does San Antonio fall in all this? Turns out renters who currently live there are thinking about moving to Dallas (17.7 percent), followed by Houston (12.4 percent) and Austin (8.4 percent). Residents of McAllen (5 percent), Dallas (3.9 percent), and Houston (3.5 percent) are considering making San Antonio home.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

The study examined used the average annual salary for white-collar "business" jobs in Houston. Photo by Zview/Getty Images

Salaries stretch further in Houston than most metros

Bayou city banks

It truly pays to live and work in Houston. A new ranking from BusinessStudent.com puts the Bayou City — and Dallas and Fort Worth, too — among the top 10 places in the U.S. for stretching your salary.

To come up with its ranking, BusinessStudent.com examined the average annual salary for 127 white-collar "business" jobs listed on career website Indeed — such as HR director, marketing manager, and IT manager — and subtracted the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment, based on data from apartment search website Rent Jungle. According to that measure, Houston is No. 7. Dallas is tops in the Lone Star State at No. 4, while Fort Worth is No. 9.

In all, BusinessStudent.com sifted through data for 65 major U.S. markets.

"When deciding where to work and live, it is critical to look at more than just what salary you can make," BusinessStudent.com says. "Because if rents are sky high, you may net out at zero, or even worse with mounting credit card debt."

The BusinessStudent.com study calculated an average yearly salary of $79,579 in Houston and an average monthly rent of $1,401 for a two-bedroom apartment. The difference: $62,767.

BusinessStudent.com also computed an average yearly salary of $82,609 in Dallas and average monthly rent of $1,422 for a two-bedroom apartment. That resulted in a difference of $65,545, behind Palo Alto and San Jose, both in Northern California, and Detroit.

In Houston, at least, all types of workers are benefiting from stable rent growth. According to apartment search website Apartment List, the growth of rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Houston has gone up 3.6 percent over the past year, 0.8 percent in Austin, 0.4 percent in San Antonio, flat in Dallas, and 1.8 percent statewide.

For Fort Worth, the average yearly salary for a white-collar job added up to $75,797, according to BusinessStudent.com, with average monthly rent of $1,108 for a two-bedroom apartment. That left a gap of $62,501.

Aside from Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Irving (No. 12) and Plano (No. 19) showed up in BusinessStudent.com's top 25.

In Irving, BusinessStudent.com discovered the average yearly salary was $77,527, with average monthly rent of $1,327 for a two-bedroom apartment. The difference was $61,603.

Plano had an average yearly salary of $75,988, with average monthly rent of $1,350 for a two-bedroom apartment. The gap: $59,788.

At the other end of the spectrum, College Station ranked No. 1 in the country for the lowest after-rent salary. There, the average yearly salary for a white-collar job was calculated at $55,086, with average monthly rent of $906 for a two-bedroom apartment. The leftover amount: $44,214.

San Antonio was the only other Texas city in the bottom 25. In the Alamo City, the average yearly salary was computed as $67,195, with average monthly rent of $1,195 for a two-bedroom apartment. The difference: $52,855. That put San Antonio at No. 12 among the bottom 25.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.

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Houston SPAC announces merger with Beaumont-based tech company in deal valued at $100M

speaking of spacs

A Houston SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, has announced the company it plans to merge with in the new year.

Beaumont-based Infrared Cameras Holdings Inc., a provider of thermal imaging platforms, and Houston-based SportsMap Tech Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: SMAP), a publicly-traded SPAC with $117 million held in trust, announced their agreement for ICI to IPO via SPAC.

Originally announced in the fall of last year, the blank-check company is led by David Gow, CEO and chairman. Gow is also chairman and CEO of Gow Media, which owns digital media outlets SportsMap, CultureMap, and InnovationMap, as well as the SportsMap Radio Network, ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.

The deal will close in the first half of 2023, according to a news release, and the combined company will be renamed Infrared Cameras Holdings Inc. and will be listed on NASDAQ under a new ticker symbol.

“ICI is extremely excited to partner with David Gow and SportsMap as we continue to deliver our innovative software and hardware solutions," says Gary Strahan, founder and CEO of ICI, in the release. "We believe our software and sensor technology can change the way companies across industries perform predictive maintenance to ensure reliability, environmental integrity, and safety through AI and machine learning.”

Strahan will continue to serve as CEO of the combined company, and Gow will become chairman of the board. The transaction values the combined company at a pre-money equity valuation of $100 million, according to the release, and existing ICI shareholders will roll 100 percent of their equity into the combined company as part of the transaction.

“We believe ICI is poised for strong growth," Gow says in the release. "The company has a strong value proposition, detecting the overheating of equipment in industrial settings. ICI also has assembled a strong management team to execute on the opportunity. We are delighted to combine our SPAC with ICI.”

Founded in 1995, ICI provides infrared and imaging technology — as well as service, training, and equipment repairs — to various businesses and individuals across industries.

Report: Federal funding, increased life science space drive industry growth in Houston

by the numbers

Federal funding, not venture capital, continues to be the main driver of growth in Houston’s life sciences sector, a new report suggests.

The new Houston Life Science Insight report from commercial real estate services company JLL shows Houston accounted for more than half (52.7 percent) of total funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) across major Texas markets through the third quarter of this year. NIH funding in the Houston area totaled $769.6 million for the first nine months of 2022, exceeding the five-year average by 19.3 percent.

VC funding for Houston’s life sciences sector pales in comparison.

For the first nine months of this year, companies in life sciences raised $147.3 million in VC, according to the report. Based on that figure, Houston is on pace in 2022 to meet or surpass recent life sciences VC totals for most other years except 2021. JLL describes 2021 as an “outlier” when it comes to annual VC hauls for the region’s life sciences companies.

JLL notes that “limited venture capital interest in private industry has remained a challenge for the city’s life sciences sector. Furthermore, it may persist as venture capital strategies are reevaluated and investment strategies shift toward near-term profits.”

While life sciences VC funding has a lot of ground to cover to catch up with NIH funding, there are other bright spots for the sector.

One of those bright spots is the region’s rising amount of life sciences space.

The Houston area boasts more than 2.4 million square feet of space for life sciences operations, with another 1.1 million under construction and an additional 1.5 million square feet on the drawing board, the report says. This includes a soon-to-open lab spanning 25,000 square feet in the first phase of Levit Green.

A second bright spot is the migration of life sciences companies to the region. Two Southern California-based life sciences companies, Cellipoint Bioservices and Obagi Cosmeceuticals, plan to move their headquarters and relocate more than half of their employees to The Woodlands by the first half of 2023, according to the report.

“Houston’s low tax rate and cost of living were primary drivers for the decisions, supported by a strong labor pool that creates advantages for companies’ expansion and relocation considerations,” JLL says.

Here's what Houston startups need to know about internal communications

guest column

Startup founders often focus on outward victories. However, if they look inward and get internal communications right, this can prioritize, inspire, and retain talent, which is the heart of the company.

Consistent internal communication helps employees to understand the company's core values and mission and the evolving internal policies and procedures — health care benefits, reorganizations, remote work — that accompany a young business. Investing in internal communications also supports external public relations efforts because the best company storytellers are well-informed employees.

Consider these tactics for effective internal communications.

Prioritize messaging

In any startup, internal procedures evolve as the company grows. Take control of the narrative while easing employees' minds by prioritizing internal messaging.

Whether transitioning to a more flexible work schedule, updating healthcare benefits, or rolling out a performance review process, planning messages in advance can help team members understand the change, the impact, and how they can contribute positively to the development.

Well-informed employees help mitigate uneasiness and tend to achieve business goals more quickly. Make sure to allow the employees time to reflect and react.

Support managers

Leaders and mid-level managers play an integral role in internal communications by cascading information throughout the organization. They regularly engage with their employees, so it is important that managers feel confident and supported in their communication skills.

Managers can benefit from a common company language, talking points, or communications training for more effective and productive conversations. By identifying, clarifying, and reinforcing common goals and key objectives for managers, companies can strengthen productivity and eliminate confusion, especially if the company changes teams' roles and responsibilities.

Be consistent

Make sure that the drumbeat remains steady, whether this includes a monthly town hall meeting or weekly CEO emails. Since communication is not necessarily one-size-fits-all, use a communication approach tailored to the workforce.

For example, there might be more effective communication methods than email for employees not behind a desk. As a smaller company, take that time to connect with the team directly because as the company swells, that one-on-one experience will become increasingly difficult to manage.

Listen to employees

Delivering top-down messaging that resonates with the workforce remains critical. However, internal communication is a two-way street.

Allow team members to give valuable feedback. Encourage team members to share their thoughts about the company, concerns, and how to improve communications. Issue internal surveys or hold face-to-face meetings to gain useful insight.

Understanding these critical proof points will enable more effective communication and quick action on any issues.

Be a human

Keep humanity at the heart of internal communications. Amid the company's transition, maintain transparency and recognize the emotional toll some changes can have on teammates. The best talent will remain when they feel connected, informed and listened to.

Greater employee engagement can help build a strong company culture of accountability, authenticity and communication, setting up the business for bigger success.

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Melanie Taplett is a communications and public relations consultant for the technology, energy, and manufacturing industries.