Houston’s known as a leader in the medical field, energy, and space, and now its mayor is hoping the Bayou City can become a powerhouse in tech startups.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said Thursday that the nation’s fourth-largest city has fallen behind on technology and innovation, but he says the ball is already rolling to make Houston one of the country’s high tech centers.
During his State of the City address Thursday afternoon in downtown Houston, the mayor compared his vision to Chicago’s quick emergence as a tech hotspot.
Turner told the crowd of 1,400 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel downtown that in the five years since Chicago launched their 1871 Technology and Entrepreneurship Center, they’ve created more than 40,000 high paying new tech jobs, grown venture capital investment from $390 million to $1.7 billion, and been named the top city in America for corporate investment for the third year in a row.
Mayor Turner said he’s already ordered a task force to look into why Houston’s fallen behind on tech and entrepreneurship and how to fix it.
He says he not only wants to bring in more investment but also create an innovation district like successful ones in Cincinnati and Detroit.
He hopes that will be key to attracting millennial workers and keeping ones already in Houston from moving away.
“Oil energy capital, largest medical center, MD Anderson, Johnson Space Center, the port, cyber security being a huge deal in this area, the two international airports, Ellington field,” said Mayor Turner. “People are saying all of the elements are there, and quite frankly, they’re asking ‘Why hasn’t Houston been planning this space?’”
The mayor also wants to see the creation of what he calls “the world’s premier data science center”.
He says he’s already spoken with the University of Houston Board of Regents Chairman Tilman Fertitta and Chancellor Renu Khator about making the vision a reality.
Turner says by the end of 2017, he hopes to have a more solid plan in place.