Here's how Texas towns stacked up on a new population report. Photo via Getty Images

One Houston suburb experienced one of the most rapid growth spurts in the country last year: Fulshear, whose population grew by 25.6 percent, more than 51 times that of the nation’s growth rate of 0.5 percent. The city's population was 42,616 as of July 1, 2023.

According to U.S. Census Bureau's Vintage 2023 Population Estimates, released Thursday, May 16, Fulshear — which lies west of Katy in northwest Fort Bend County - ranked No. 2 on the list of fastest-growing cities with a population of 20,000 or more. It's no wonder iconic Houston restaurants like Molina's Cantina see opportunities there.

The South still dominates the nation's growth, even as America’s Northeast and Midwest cities are rebounding slightly from years of population drops. The census estimates showed 13 of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. were in the South — eight in Texas alone.

The Texas cities joining Fulshear on the fastest-growing-cities list are:

  • Celina (No. 1) with 26.6 percent growth (42,616 total population)
  • Princeton (No. 3) with 22.3 percent growth (28,027 total population)
  • Anna (No. 4) with 16.9 percent growth (27,501 total population)
  • Georgetown (No. 8) with 10.6 percent growth (96,312 total population)
  • Prosper (No. 9) with 10.5 percent growth (41,660 total population)
  • Forney (No. 10) with 10.4 percent growth (35,470 total population)
  • Kyle (No. 11) with 9 percent growth (62,548 total population)

Texas trends
San Antonio saw the biggest growth spurt in the United States last year, numbers-wise. The Alamo City added about 22,000 residents. San Antonio now has nearly 1.5 million people, making it the the seventh largest city in the U.S. and second largest in Texas.

Its population boom was followed by those of other Southern cities, including Fort Worth; Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Fast-growing Fort Worth (978,000) surpassed San Jose, California (970,000) to become the 12th most populous city in the country.

Meanwhile, population slowed in the Austin area. Jacksonville, Florida (986,000), outpaced Austin (980,000), pushing the Texas capital to 11th largest city in the U.S. (barely ahead of Fort Worth).

Population growth in Georgetown, outside Austin, slowed by more than one-fourth its population growth in 2022, the report says, from 14.4 percent to 10.6 percent. It's the same story in the Central Texas city of Kyle, whose population growth decreased by nearly 2 percent to 9 percent in 2023.

Most populated cities
New York City with nearly 8.3 million people remained the nation's largest city in population as of July 1, 2023. Los Angeles was second at close to 4 million residents, while Chicago was third at 2.7 million and Houston was fourth at 2.3 million residents.

The 15 populous U.S. cities in 2023 were:

  1. New York, New York (8.3 million)
  2. Los Angeles, California (4 million)
  3. Chicago, Illinois (2.7 million)
  4. Houston, Texas (2.3 million)
  5. Phoenix, Arizona (1.7 million)
  6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1.6 million)
  7. San Antonio (1.5 million)
  8. San Diego, California (1.4 million)
  9. Dallas (1.3 million)
  10. Jacksonville, Florida (986,000)
  11. Austin (980,000)
  12. Fort Worth (978,000)
  13. San Jose (970,000)
  14. Columbus, Ohio (913,000)
  15. Charlotte, North Carolina (911,000)

Modest reversals of population declines were seen last year in large cities in the nation's Northeast and Midwest. Detroit, for example, which grew for the first time in decades, had seen an exodus of people since the 1950s. Yet the estimates released Thursday show the population of Michigan’s largest city rose by just 1,852 people from 631,366 in 2022 to 633,218 last year.

It's a milestone for Detroit, which had 1.8 million residents in the 1950s only to see its population dwindle and then plummet through suburban white flight, a 1967 race riot, the migration to the suburbs by many of the Black middle class and the national economic downturn that foreshadowed the city's 2013 bankruptcy filing.

Three of the largest cities in the U.S. that had been bleeding residents this decade staunched those departures somewhat. New York City, which has lost almost 550,000 residents this decade so far, saw a drop of only 77,000 residents last year, about three-fifths the numbers from the previous year.

Los Angeles lost only 1,800 people last year, following a decline in the 2020s of almost 78,000 residents. Chicago, which has lost almost 82,000 people this decade, only had a population drop of 8,200 residents last year.

And San Francisco, which has lost a greater share of residents this decade than any other big city — almost 7.5 percent — actually grew by more than 1,200 residents last year.

------

This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston — home to the Texas Medical Center — has made the cut for top life science metros. Photo via Getty Images

Houston recognized for its workforce among top life science cities

we're no. 13

Of the top 25 United States metros ranked as the best for life science, Houston came in at lucky No. 13.

CommercialCafe issued a report this month ranking the top 25 U.S. cities for life science, factoring in volume of life science patents, number of life science establishments, size of workforce, educational institutions, office market, and more.

Houston stood out on the report for a few metrics. It might not be surprising, as Houston is home to the world's largest medical center, but the city boasts the 10th largest workforce with 5,100 workers employed in industry related occupations, the report found. Additionally, the city ranked:

  • No. 8 for life science education — more than 860,000 area residents aged 25 years or older hold a bachelor’s degree in an industry related field.
  • No. 9 for life science establishments — which has increased 23 percent since 2018 to a total of nearly 3,300.
  • No. 9 for life science square footage added — with roughly 840,000 square feet of new life sciences projects currently in development

As positive as the report finds Houston's life science market, the ranking represents a decrease in ranking compared to 2022 where Houston scored a spot in the top 10. In fact, Houston can't even claim the top spot in the Lone Star State. No Texas cities made the top 10, but the Dallas area secured the No. 11 ranking. Dallas was also ranked highly for its talent pool.

Meanwhile in central Texas, Austin claimed the No. 22 spot. The full ranking is below.

www.commercialcafe.com

Conveniently, CBRE, which also ranks the top life science markets every year, agrees with CommercialCafe's ranking of Houston. The 2023 report placed Houston at No. 13, which is exactly where the Bayou City ranked in 2022. However, according to CBRE, Houston ranks ahead of Dallas and Austin, which both still claimed rankings in the top 25.

Houston is the No. 4 most diverse city in the U.S.

Houston dazzles as most diverse large city in U.S., report says

we're No. 1

Living in a multicultural city comes with many benefits. Diverse communities bring new perspectives, greater versatility, and economic boosts, to name a few. And according to a new study by WalletHub, Houston is among the most diverse places in the nation.

Houston is getting some time in the spotlight in WalletHub's annual ranking of the "Most Diverse Cities in the U.S. (2024)," maintaining its position as the No. 1 most diverse large city in America, and the No. 4 overall most diverse. The report compared 501 U.S. cities across 13 metrics in five categories that encompass "diversity" across socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household, and religious factors.

Space City earned 72.37 out of a total 100 possible points, following behind Gaithersburg, Maryland (No. 1), Silver Spring, Maryland (No. 2), and Germantown, Maryland (No. 3). Arlington, Texas rounded out the top five. Houston is still holding strong as the most diverse large U.S. city after first taking the crown in WalletHub's 2021 report.

The city performed the best in two overall major categories for socioeconomic and cultural diversity, earning a respective rank of No. 27 and No. 31 out of all 501 cities in the study. Houston's religious diversity earned it No. 54, while it fell behind when it came to household and economic diversity, earning No. 112 and No. 156.

More specifically, Houston performed the best in the rankings for its linguistic diversity (No. 25), industry diversity (No. 28), and educational-attainment diversity (No. 29). But the city fell the farthest behind in the rankings for age diversity (No. 310) and worker-class diversity (No. 340).

Here's how Houston performed within the study's remaining categories out of all 501 cities:

  • 45th – Racial and ethnic diversity
  • 119th – Household-type diversity
  • 179th – Household-size diversity
  • 206th – Occupational diversity
  • 226th – Income diversity
  • 246th – Marital-status diversity
  • 249th – Birthplace diversity

"The most diverse cities demonstrate diversity in many dimensions – not just in race and gender but also everything from residents’ languages and birthplaces to their job types and household sizes," said WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe in the report. "These cities blend together a multitude of different perspectives, helping people to better understand the world around them and become more empathetic. This exchange of ideas also tends to increase the economic success of diverse cities."

Besides Houston and Arlington, the only other Texas city to earn a place among the top 10 most diverse cities in the U.S. was Dallas, which ranked No. 8.

Other Texas cities that earned spots in the report include Fort Worth (No. 22), Austin (No. 70), Plano (No. 83), San Antonio (No. 87), Corpus Christi (No. 125), El Paso (No. 253), and Laredo (No. 468).

The full report can be found on wallethub.com.

------

This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston was deemed a top startup city, but the Bayou City has a gap to other Texas cities that it can work on narrowing. Photo via Getty Images

Report: Houston secures spot on list of top 50 startup cities

by the numbers

A new ranking signals great promise for the growth of Houston’s startup network.

Houston ranks among the world’s top 50 startup cities on a new list from PitchBook, a provider of data and research about capital markets. In fact, Houston comes in at No. 50 in the ranking. But if you dig deeper into the data, Houston comes out on top in one key category.

The city earns a growth score of 63.8 out of 100 — the highest growth score of any U.S. city and the seventh highest growth score in the world. In the growth bucket, Houston sits between between Paris (64.4) and Washington, D.C. (61.7).

The PitchBook growth score reflects short-term, midterm, and long-term growth momentum for activity surrounding venture capital deals, exits, and fundraising for the past six years.

PitchBook’s highest growth score (86.5) goes to Hefei, a Chinese manufacturing hub for electric vehicles, solar panels, liquid crystal displays, home appliances, and Lenovo computers.

The overall ranking is based on a scoring system that relies on proprietary PitchBook data about private companies. The system’s growth and development scores are based on data related to deals, exits, fundraising and other factors.

Houston earns a development score of 34.1 out of 100, which puts it in 50th place globally in that regard. This score measures the size and maturity of a city’s startup network.

Topping the overall list is San Francisco, followed by New York City and Beijing. Elsewhere in Texas, Austin appears at No. 16 and Dallas at No. 36.

The ranking “helps founders, operators, and investors assess locations when deciding where to expand or invest,” says PitchBook.

“Network effects matter in venture capital: Investors get more than half of their deals through referrals, according to research led by Harvard professor Paul Gompers,” PitchBook goes on to say. “So it stands to reason that dealmakers should seek these networks out when deciding where to do business.”

Houston needs to lighten up a little, sheesh. Photo by Rome Wilkerson on Unsplash

Houstonians are pretty miserable, new study finds

frowns in H-town

Not-so-happy news for Texans living in Houston – they're living in one of the "unhappiest" cities in the nation.

A recent SmartAsset study ranked Houston the No. 81 happiest city in the U.S., based on an analysis of 90 large cities for their residents' quality of life, well being, and personal finances.

The city's rank in the bottom 10 — alongside Texas neighbors Dallas (No. 80), El Paso (No. 83), and Laredo (No. 89) – shows not everything about Houston is as easygoing as people think it is. We can hear Ken Hoffman's disagreement from here.

The study found 28.5 percent of all Houston households make a six-figure salary or more, and 16.2 percent of residents are burdened by their housing costs. Houston's poverty rate is 20.7 percent, so maybe it really is more difficult to live comfortably in the city, after all.

Houston has a marriage rate of 39.4 percent, and its residents have a life expectancy of 79 years old. Nearly 76 percent of residents have health insurance, and a Houstonian has nearly five "mentally unhealthy" days per month on average.

Our beloved city has had some bad press recently: H-Town isn't exactly revered for having the best drivers; the city and its suburbs are apparently less appealing for new residents making the move to Texas; and its popularity in the tech industry seems to be waning.

It's not all doom and gloom, though. There's always plenty of new restaurants to try, our city's inventive art scene remains unmatched, and plenty of hometown hero celebrities, Hall of Fame athletes, and talented musicians praise Houston for its culture and hospitality.

While money can't necessarily buy happiness, SmartAsset suggests that having a higher quality of life can influence a person's financial decisions, therefore leading to a greater probability of beneficial outcomes. Of course, that's assuming high financial literacy and strong money management skills.

"Depending where you live, certain quality of life factors, including metrics like life expectancy, infrastructure and the rate of marriage, can ultimately impact your happiness," the report's author wrote.

Elsewhere in Texas, the Dallas suburb of Plano soared to the top as the No. 2 happiest city in the nation. More than half (52.5 percent) of all Plano households make a six-figure salary or more, and only 12.1 percent of residents are burdened by their housing costs. Plano's poverty rate is less than five percent, its marriage rate is 56 percent, and nearly 90 percent of Plano residents have health insurance.

Other Texas cities that earned spots in the report, that notably aren't as happy as Plano, include: Fort Worth (No. 38), Arlington (No. 47), Irving (No. 64), Austin (No. 65), San Antonio (No. 70), Corpus Christi (No. 77), and Lubbock (No. 78).

The top 10 happiest cities in the U.S. are:

  • No. 1 – Arlington, Virginia
  • No. 2 – Plano, Texas
  • No. 3 – Fremont, California
  • No. 4 – San Jose, California
  • No. 5 – Seattle, Washington
  • No. 6 – Boise City, Idaho
  • No. 7 – Raleigh, North Carolina
  • No. 8 – Chesapeake, Virginia
  • No. 9 – San Francisco, California
  • No. 10 – Anchorage, Alaska
The report ranked the 90 most populous U.S. cities based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau 1-Year American Community Survey for 2022 and from the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps for 2023. Data that factored into each city's ranking included a city's household income, poverty level, life expectancy, health insurance rates, marriage rates, overcrowding rates, and more.The full report and its methodology can be found on smartasset.com

.

------

This article originally ran on CultureMap.

A new ranking puts Texas at No. 9 among the states with the highest expenses for starting and operating a business. Photo via Getty Images

Texas lands in top 10 most-expensive cities for running a new business

pay up

Everything is bigger in Texas — or at least somewhat bigger — and that appears to include the cost of running a new business.

A new ranking from business consulting firm Venture Smarterputs Texas at No. 9 among the states with the highest expenses for starting and operating a business.

New York appears at No. 1 on the list, followed by Washington and Massachusetts.

The cheapest state? Mississippi. It was preceded in the ranking by Kentucky and North Dakota.

To come up with its list, Venture Smarter looked at eight metrics, including corporate tax rate, average LLC filing fees, average real estate costs, and minimum wage.

Texas scored 59.74 out of 100 for startup expenses, with a higher score being worse.

The Lone Star State tied with Tennessee for the highest initial LLC filing fees ($300). But unlike many other states, Texas doesn’t require business owners to pay LLC filing fees each year to keep a business incorporated.

Texas fared well on several counts, though, such as no corporate tax, a low state-mandated minimum wage ($7.25 an hour), and relatively low real estate costs.

“This research aims to provide valuable insights into the business climate across various states, offering new entrepreneurs the information they need to make well-informed decisions on their entrepreneurial journey,” Venture Smarter says in a statement. “By understanding the unique characteristics and challenges of each state, aspiring business owners can navigate the complexities of different markets and optimize their chances of success.”

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston college lands $5M NASA grant to launch new aerospace research center

to infinity and beyond

The University of Houston was one of seven minority-serving institutions to receive a nearly $5 million grant this month to support aerospace research focused on extending human presence on the moon and Mars.

The $4,996,136 grant over five years is funded by the NASA Office of STEM Engagement Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) program. It will go toward creating the NASA MIRO Inflatable Deployable Environments and Adaptive Space Systems (IDEAS2) Center at UH, according to a statement from the university.

“The vision of the IDEAS2 Center is to become a premier national innovation hub that propels NASA-centric, state-of-the-art research and promotes 21st-century aerospace education,” Karolos Grigoriadis, Moores Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of aerospace engineering at UH, said in a statement.

Another goal of the grant is to develop the next generation of aerospace professionals.

Graduate, undergraduate and even middle and high school students will conduct research out of IDEAS2 and work closely with the Johnson Space Center, located in the Houston area.

The center will collaborate with Texas A&M University, Houston Community College, San Jacinto College and Stanford University.

Grigoriadis will lead the center. Dimitris Lagoudas, from Texas A&M University, and Olga Bannova, UH's research professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Space Architecture graduate program, will serve as associate directors.

"Our mission is to establish a sustainable nexus of excellence in aerospace engineering research and education supported by targeted multi-institutional collaborations, strategic partnerships and diverse educational initiatives,” Grigoriadis said.

Industrial partners include Boeing, Axiom Space, Bastion Technologies and Lockheed Martin, according to UH.

UH is part of 21 higher-education institutions to receive about $45 million through NASA MUREP grants.

According to NASA, the six other universities to received about $5 million MIRO grants over five years and their projects includes:

  • Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage: Alaska Pacific University Microplastics Research and Education Center
  • California State University in Fullerton: SpaceIgnite Center for Advanced Research-Education in Combustion
  • City University of New York, Hunter College in New York: NASA-Hunter College Center for Advanced Energy Storage for Space
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee: Integrative Space Additive Manufacturing: Opportunities for Workforce-Development in NASA Related Materials Research and Education
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark:AI Powered Solar Eruption Center of Excellence in Research and Education
  • University of Illinois in Chicago: Center for In-Space Manufacturing: Recycling and Regolith Processing

Fourteen other institutions will receive up to $750,000 each over the course of a three-year period. Those include:

  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
  • West Virginia University in Morgantown
  • University of Puerto Rico in San Juan
  • Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
  • Oklahoma State University in Stillwater
  • Iowa State University in Ames
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks
  • University of the Virgin Islands in Charlotte Amalie
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu
  • University of Idaho in Moscow
  • University of Arkansas in Little Rock
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City
  • Satellite Datastreams

NASA's MUREP hosted its annual "Space Tank" pitch event at Space Center Houston last month. Teams from across the country — including three Texas teams — pitched business plans based on NASA-originated technology. Click here to learn more about the seven finalists.

How this Houston clean energy entrepreneur is navigating geothermal's hype to 100x business growth

houston innovators podcast Episode 237

Geothermal energy has been growing in recognition as a major player in the clean energy mix, and while many might think of it as a new climatetech solution, Tim Latimer, co-founder and CEO of Fervo Energy, knows better.

"Every overnight success is a decade in the making, and I think Fervo, fortunately — and geothermal as a whole — has become much more high profile recently as people realize that it can be a tremendous solution to the challenges that our energy sector and climate are facing," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.

In fact, Latimer has been bullish on geothermal as a clean energy source since he quit his job as a drilling engineer in oil and gas to pursue a dual degree program — MBA and master's in earth sciences — at Stanford University. He had decided that, with the reluctance of incumbent energy companies to try new technologies, he was going to figure out how to start his own company. Through the Stanford program and Activate, a nonprofit hardtech program that funded two years of Fervo's research and development, Latimer did just that.

And the bet has more than paid off. Since officially launching in 2017, Fervo Energy has raised over $430 million — most recently collecting a $244 million series D round. Even more impressive to Latimer — his idea for drilling horizontal wells works. The company celebrated a successful pilot program last summer by achieving continuous carbon-free geothermal energy production with Project Red, a northern Nevada site made possible through a 2021 partnership with Google.

Next up for Fervo is growing and scaling at around a 100x pace. While Project Red included three wells, Project Cape, a Southwest Utah site, will include around 100 wells with significantly reduced drilling cost and an estimated 2026 delivery. Latimer says there are a dozen other projects like Project Cape that are in the works.

"It's a huge ramp up in our drilling, construction, and powerplant programs from our pilot project, but we've already had tremendous success there," Latimer says of Project Cape. "We think our technology has a really bright future."

While Latimer looks ahead to the rapid growth of Fervo Energy, he says it's all due to the foundation he put in place for the company, which has a culture built on the motto, "Build things that last."

“You’re not going to get somewhere that really changes the world by cutting corners and taking short steps. And, if you want to move the needle on something as complicated as the global energy system that has been built up over hundreds of years with trillions of dollars of capital invested in it – you’re not going to do it overnight," he says on the show. "We’re all in this for the long haul together."

Houston researchers create AI model to tap into how brain activity relates to illness

brainiac

Houston researchers are part of a team that has created an AI model intended to understand how brain activity relates to behavior and illness.

Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine worked with peers from Yale University, University of Southern California and Idaho State University to make Brain Language Model, or BrainLM. Their research was published as a conference paper at ICLR 2024, a meeting of some of deep learning’s greatest minds.

“For a long time we’ve known that brain activity is related to a person’s behavior and to a lot of illnesses like seizures or Parkinson’s,” Dr. Chadi Abdallah, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor and co-corresponding author of the paper, says in a press release. “Functional brain imaging or functional MRIs allow us to look at brain activity throughout the brain, but we previously couldn’t fully capture the dynamic of these activities in time and space using traditional data analytical tools.

"More recently, people started using machine learning to capture the brain complexity and how it relates it to specific illnesses, but that turned out to require enrolling and fully examining thousands of patients with a particular behavior or illness, a very expensive process,” Abdallah continues.

Using 80,000 brain scans, the team was able to train their model to figure out how brain activities related to one another. Over time, this created the BrainLM brain activity foundational model. BrainLM is now well-trained enough to use to fine-tune a specific task and to ask questions in other studies.

Abdallah said that using BrainLM will cut costs significantly for scientists developing treatments for brain disorders. In clinical trials, it can cost “hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said, to enroll numerous patients and treat them over a significant time period. By using BrainLM, researchers can enroll half the subjects because the AI can select the individuals most likely to benefit.

The team found that BrainLM performed successfully in many different samples. That included predicting depression, anxiety and PTSD severity better than other machine learning tools that do not use generative AI.

“We found that BrainLM is performing very well. It is predicting brain activity in a new sample that was hidden from it during the training as well as doing well with data from new scanners and new population,” Abdallah says. “These impressive results were achieved with scans from 40,000 subjects. We are now working on considerably increasing the training dataset. The stronger the model we can build, the more we can do to assist with patient care, such as developing new treatment for mental illnesses or guiding neurosurgery for seizures or DBS.”

For those suffering from neurological and mental health disorders, BrainLM could be a key to unlocking treatments that will make a life-changing difference.