MSA: Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX
Best places ranking: #4 among large metro areas
Traditionally known for its lax zoning, low taxes, dominant oil industry and heavy traffic, Houston has evolved rapidly over the past decade. The city government has moved aggressively to curb pollution and diversify the economy. In 2003, the Metropolitan Transit Authority committed $1.46 billion for a public transportation system. The Texas Emerging Technology Fund, an early-stage venture fund created by the Texas legislature, allocated $180 million for research grants in the last two years, targeting the energy industry as well as the fast-growing aerospace, information technology, nanotechnology, biotech and medical sectors.
Houston now boasts the world's largest medical center and the nation's top-rated cancer hospital. And this summer, Houston became the largest municipal purchaser of green power in the country, according to the EPA.
Houston has performed surprisingly well during the current recession, adding 500,000 new jobs during the past five years. The Greater Houston Partnership, an economic development group, forecasts that the metropolitan area will attract an additional 600,000 jobs and $60 billion in capital investment by the end of 2015.
One downside to launching a business in Houston: Mother Nature. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina inflicted $81.2 billion in damage on the Gulf Coast. Three years later, Ike devastated nearby Galveston. Some local businesses find hurricane insurance hard to come by. -Megan Erickson
Resources for getting started in Houston, TX
Local startup resources
Houston Business Statistics
"Because of lack of zoning in major areas, people are much more open to some guy or gal opening a business in a little hallway on a shoestring. " -Bryan Caswell