Folks are making a run to Missouri City. Photo Courtesy Missouri City

More movers hauled their belongings to Texas than any other state last year. And those headed to the Greater Houston area were mostly pointed toward Missouri City and Conroe, according to a new study.

In its recently released annual growth report, U-Haul ranks Missouri City and Conroe at No. 13 and No. 19, respectively among U.S. cities with the most inbound moves via U-Haul trucks in 2022. Richardson was the only other Texas cities to make the list coming in at No. 15.

Texas ranks No. 1 overall as the state with the most in-bound moves using U-Haul trucks. This is the second year in a row and the fifth year since 2016 that Texas has earned the distinction.

“The 2022 trends in migration followed very similar patterns to 2021 with Texas, Florida, the Carolinas and the Southwest continuing to see solid growth,” U-Haul international president John Taylor says in a news release. “We still have areas with strong demand for one-way rentals. While overall migration in 2021 was record-breaking, we continue to experience significant customer demand to move out of some geographic areas to destinations at the top of our growth list.”

U-Haul determines the top 25 cities by analyzing more than 2 million one-way U-Haul transactions over the calendar year. Then the company calculated the net gain of one-way U-Haul trucks entering a specific area versus departing from that area. The top U-Haul growth states are determined the same way.

The studies note that U-Haul migration trends do not directly correlate to population or economic growth — but they are an “effective gauge” of how well cities and states are attracting and maintaining residents.

Missouri City is known for its convenient location only minutes from downtown Houston. The city’s proximity to major freeways, rail lines, the Port of Houston, and Bush and Hobby Airports links its businesses with customers “around the nation and the world,” per its website.

The No. 19-ranked city of Conroe is “the perfect blend of starry nights and city lights,” according to the Visit Conroe website. Conroe offers plenty of outdoor activities, as it is bordered by Lake Conroe, Sam Houston National Forest and W. Goodrich Jones State Forest. But it also has a busy downtown area with breweries, theaters, shopping and live music.

To view U-Haul’s full growth cities report, click here.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

We're welcoming more and more new Texans every day. Photo via Getty Images

Texas population shatters records with massive new number milestone

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The adage "everything's bigger in Texas" has never been more apropos than with this news: For the first time ever, the population of Texas officially reached 30 million.

Or 30,029,572 in July 2022, to be exact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2022 national and state population estimates, released on December 22.

We predicted this milestone last year when our population clocked in at 29,558,864, as long as Texas maintained its then-year-over-year growth of 1.1 percent.

We bested that percentage and then some, growing 1.6 percent and coming in fourth for total percentage growth. Florida, Idaho, and South Carolina were the only states ahead of us in that race.

The numbers also revealed that Texas saw the most numeric growth in 2022, adding 470,708 residents year over year from July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022.

But wait, that's not all: Texas is also officially the second-most populous state, joining California in the 30 million-plus club. For reference, Texas is 268,597 square miles and California is 163,696 square miles — we do treasure our wide open spaces.

Growth in Texas last year was fueled by gains from all three of the main components: net domestic migration (230,961), or people moving in and out of the state; net international migration, or the number people moving in and out of the country (118,614); and natural increase, or births minus deaths (118,159).

“There was a sizable uptick in population growth last year compared to the prior year’s historically low increase,” says Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau. “A rebound in net international migration, coupled with the largest year-over-year increase in total births since 2007, is behind this increase.”

The Population Estimates Program uses current data on births, deaths, and migration to calculate population change since the most recent decennial census date and produce a time series of estimates of population, demographic components of change, and housing units.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Based on recent population growth figures, you should probably get ready for more traffic. Photo courtesy of TxDOT

Texas population is barreling toward eye-popping milestone in 2022

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Texas is edging closer to a milestone — a population of 30 million.

Estimates released December 21 by the U.S. Census Bureau show the population of Texas grew 1.1 percent between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021. During that period, the state added 310,288 residents, going from 29,217,653 to 29,527,941. The tally takes into account births, deaths, people moving to Texas, and people moving out of Texas.

Texas ranked first among the states for the number of residents added from 2020 to 2021, which worked out to 850 new residents per day, and seventh for percentage growth. At 2.9 percent, Idaho ranked first for percentage growth.

If Texas maintains a year-to-year growth rate of at least 1.1 percent, the state might break the 30 million mark sometime in 2022. Driving the state’s continued population explosion are people of color, who’ve made up 91 percent of new Texas residents in the 21st century, according to The Texas Tribune.

Lloyd Potter, the state demographer, says it’s conceivable that Texas could be home to 30 million residents in 2022.

“However, our rate of growth has slowed noticeably between 2020 and 2021, with lower fertility, higher mortality, and less international migration. If we add the same number of people estimated to have been added between 2020 and 2021, then it looks like we’ll come up a bit short of 30 million in 2022,” Potter says.

Throughout the country, the COVID-19 pandemic helped drag down population growth from July 2020 to July 2021. The U.S. population rose just 0.1 percent during that period — the smallest one-year increase since the nation was founded.

“Population growth has been slowing for years because of lower birth rates and decreasing net international migration, all while mortality rates are rising due to the aging of the nation’s population,” Kristie Wilder, a demographer at the Census Bureau, says in a news release. “Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination has resulted in a historically slow pace of growth.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

The Bayou City is one of the three U.S. metro areas to gain at least 1.2 million residents over the decade. Photo via Getty Images

Houston boasts massive population growth among major U.S. metros from 2010 to 2020

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If the massive influx of Newstonians is any clue, the population of Greater Houston keeps exploding.

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau put that growth into clearer perspective. Data from the 2020 Census released August 12 shows Houston at No. 5 (20.3 percent) among the country's 50 largest metro areas in the biggest jump in population from 2010 to 2020.

Houston maintains its position at No. 5 (7,122,240 residents), the Census data notes. For some perspective, Houston was No. 8 (4,944,332) in the 2010 Census.

The Bayou City is also one of the three U.S. metro areas to gain at least 1.2 million residents over the decade. (Dallas-Fort Worth and New York are the others.)

Harris County picked up at least 300,000 residents (638,686) between 2010 and 2020. Tarrant County in North Texas also owns that distinction.

Elsewhere in Texas, Austin now ranks as the 28th most populous metro area in the U.S. (2,283,371 residents), surpassing Las Vegas (ranked 29th, with 2,265,461 residents) and inching closer to 27th-ranked Pittsburgh (2,370,930 residents).

Among the country's 50 largest metro areas, Austin notched the biggest jump in population from 2010 to 2020 (33 percent), with Dallas-Fort Worth at No. 6 (20 percent), and San Antonio at No. 7 (19.4 percent). Austin ranked second among metro areas of all sizes for population growth during the decade, trailing only The Villages, Florida, a 55-and-over retirement community (39 percent).

Dallas-Fort Worth remains the country's fourth largest metro area (7,637,387 residents counted in the 2020 Census) and San Antonio still ranks 24th (2,558,143 residents).

All four of the state's major metros moved up the ranks of the biggest U.S. regions from 2010 to 2020.

Following the 2010 Census, Dallas-Fort Worth was the country's sixth largest metro area (5,121,892 residents), San Antonio stood at No. 26 (1,758,210), and Austin was 37th (1,362,416). In just 10 years, Austin climbed nine spots up the metro population ladder.

Meanwhile, Fort Worth ranked as the fastest-growing big city in Texas between 2010 and 2020 (24 percent), followed by Austin (21.7 percent), Houston (9.8 percent), Dallas (8.9 percent), and San Antonio (8.1 percent).

"Many counties within metro areas saw growth [from 2010 to 2020], especially those in the South and West. However, as we've been seeing in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to," Marc Perry, senior demographer at the Census Bureau, says in a news release.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Investor advocates now is the time to position Houston as a leading biomanufacturing hub

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Houston has all the ingredients to be a successful synthetic biology hub, says Veronica Wu. She believes so strongly in this that she relocated to Houston from Silicon Valley just over a year ago to start a venture capital firm dedicated to the field. Since then, she's doubled down on her passion for Houston leading in biotech — especially when it comes to one uniquely Houston opportunity: biomanufacturing.

While Houston's health care innovation scene is actively deploying synthetic biology applications, Wu points to Houston-based Solugen, a plant-based chemical producer, as an example of what Houston has to offer at-scale industrial biomanufacturing. Houston has the workforce and the physical space available for more of these types of biomanufacturing plants, which have a huge potential to move the needle on reducing carbon emissions.

"This is really fundamental technology that's going to change the paradigm and whole dialogue of how we are making a significant impact in reducing a carbon footprint and improving sustainability," says Wu, founder and managing partner of First Bight Ventures, on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

Several aspects — government funding, corporate interest, advances in technology — have converged to make it an ideal time for synthetic biology innovators and investors, Wu explains on the show, and she has an idea of what Houston needs to secure its spot as a leader in the space: The BioWell.

First introduced at a Houston Tech Rodeo event at the Texas Medical Center's Innovation Factory, The BioWell is a public-private partnership that aims to provide access to pilot and lab space, mentorship and programming, and more support that biomanufacturing innovators critically need.

"The way we envision The BioWell is it will provide a holistic, curated support for startups to be able to get across the Valley of Death," Wu says, explaining that startups transitioning from research and development into commercialization need extra support. The BioWell will provide that, as well as allow more engagement from corporations, investors, and other players.

Now that her plans for The BioWell have been announced, Wu is looking for those who want to be a part of it.

She shares more about her mission and what's next for First Bight Ventures on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.

California-founded biotech startup relocates to join Houston's emerging bioeconomy

new to hou

Cameron Owen had an idea for a synthetic biology application, and he pitched it to a handful of postdoctoral programs. When he received the feedback that he didn't have enough research experience, he decided to launch a startup based in San Diego around his idea. He figured that he'd either get the experience he needed to re-apply, or he'd create a viable company.

After three years of research and development, Owen's path seems to have taken him down the latter of those two options, and he moved his viable company, rBIO, to Houston — a twist he didn't see coming.

“Houston was not on my radar until about a year and a half ago,” Owen says, explaining that he thought of Houston as a leading health care hub, but the coasts still had an edge when it came to what he was doing. “San Diego and the Boston area are the two big biotech and life science hubs.”

But when he visited the Bayou City in December of 2021, he says he saw first hand that something new was happening.

“Companies from California like us and the coastal areas were converging here in Houston and creating this new type of bioeconomy,” he tells InnovationMap.

Owen moved to Houston last year, but rBIO still has an academic partner in Washington University in St. Louis and a clinical research organization it's working with too, so he admits rBIO's local footprint is relatively small — but not for long.

"When we look to want to get into manufacturing, we definitely want to build something here in Houston," he says. "We’re just not to that point as a company."

In terms of the stage rBIO is in now, Owen says the company is coming out of R&D and into clinical studies. He says rBIO has plans to fundraise and is meeting with potential partners that will help his company scale and build out a facility.

With the help of its CRO partner, rBIO has two ongoing clinical projects — with a third coming next month. Owen says right now rBIO is targeting the pharmaceutical industry’s biologics sector — these are drugs our bodies make naturally, like insulin. About 12 percent of the population in the United States has diabetes, which translates to almost 40 million people. The demand for insulin is high, and rBIO has a way to create it — and at 30 percent less cost.

This is just the tip of the iceberg — the world of synthetic biology application is endless.

“Now that we can design and manipulate biology in ways we’ve never been able to before,” Owen says, "we’re really only limited by our own imagination.”

Synthetic biology is a field of science that involves programing biology to create and redesign natural elements. While it sounds like science fiction, Owen compares it to any other type of technology.

“Biology really is a type of software,” he says. “Phones and computers at their core run on 1s and 0s. In biology, it’s kind of the same thing, but instead of two letters, it’s four — A, C, T, and G.”

“The cool thing about biology is the software builds the hardware,” he continues. “You put that code in there and the biology builds in and of itself.”

Owen says the industry of synthetic biology has been rising in popularity for years, but the technology has only recently caught up.

“We’re exploring a brave new world — there’s no doubt about that,” Owen says.

Houston Airports soar with first-class awards in international ceremony

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We can now dub Houston the city of first-class airports and first-class service.

During the 2023 Skytrax World Airport Awards in Amsterdam, the Houston airport system earned several prestigious honors, including a second consecutive five-star rating.

Skytrax is the leading international air transport rating organization; they determine their ratings based on annual audits of every airport. This year, the Houston airport system won in a new category that was unveiled at the ceremony – “Best Art in the Airport” – which was determined by a panel of judges.

Mario Diaz, the director of aviation for Houston Airports, said in a press release that superior customer service is the “guiding light” for the city’s airport system.

“Excellent customer service is at our core; an expansive and eclectic arts program, just awarded World’s Best Art Program in 2023, provides a meaningful and memorable experience,” said Diaz.

The awards continued to stack up. William P. Hobby Airport maintained its five-star rating for the second year in a row. It is one of 18 total five-star airports in the world, but the one and only five-star Skytrax airport in North America.

Other accolades the Hobby Airport earned include:

  • Best Regional Airport in North America, for the second consecutive year
  • No. 2 Best Airport in the United States
  • No. 3 Best Airport in North America

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) maintained its four-star classification for the sixth year in a row. It was also named the fourth best airport in North America, and third best in the United States.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said the Skytrax awards reaffirm the city airports’ “dedication to detail and commitment to customer service.”

“Houston truly is a global city where our guests are valued and celebrated,” he praised. “Another year of [five]-star and [four]-star ratings is proof that the investments we continue to make in our Houston Airports arts program, airport infrastructure and technology and team members are smart and successful investments that lead to a world-class and award-winning passenger experience.”

More information about the awards can be found on fly2houston.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.