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New Report: Houston Ranks No. 3 Among Global Cities of the Future

Published Aug 21, 2020 by Maggie Martin

Downtown Houston skyline dusk

According to a new report released this week, Houston ranks among the world's top cities of the future for global business investment, human capital and lifestyle.

Houston is third in the overall ranking of the new fDi Tier 2 Cities of the Future 2020/21, which takes a closer look at the non-capital cities with a population under eight million. The report is published by the fDi Intelligence division of the global news outlet Financial Times. Last year, Houston ranked No. 5 among American Cities alone. 

The report attributes the ranking to Houston's position as a reputable talent hub, including being home to five global top 500 universities and over 30 international baccalaureate schools. This also contributed to Houston achieving third place in the Human Capital and Lifestyle category, which weighs local educational institutions' strength, life expectancy, access to healthcare, and the Social Progress Index.

Houston also placed sixth in the Business Friendliness category due to its welcoming business environment. The report references the City's recorded 53 expansion or co-location projects between May 2015 and April 2020, representing more than a quarter of its total inward FDI and the second highest out of all locations analyzed. When it comes to economic growth potential, which looks at metrics such as GDP growth, credit rating, economic freedom, and labor productivity, Houston ranks 7th. 

"Houston is a remarkable city, and we are proud to be recognized as one of the world's best cities for foreign direct investment. We are the energy capital of the world, alongside the largest medical center, the Port of Houston, two world-class airports, and a growing innovation ecosystem," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "Houston is also the most diverse city in the U.S. with one in four residents born abroad. The report is also a recognition of our work with community partners over the last five years to build a more livable city. We offer world-class education, art, and culture in addition to our standing as a global business leader."

"This ranking is further evidence of Houston's place among the world's great global cities," said Susan Davenport, Chief Economic Development Officer for the Greater Houston Partnership. "Houston today competes at a higher level than ever before when it comes to foreign direct investment and our business ties to cities and countries around the world. "With superior global access, a business-friendly climate, exceptional quality of life and a highly educated workforce, Houston is well positioned to continue to build on that momentum in the years ahead." 

Houston ranked No. 3 behind San Francisco and Montreal. Houston ranked ahead of other North American cities including Boston (No. 6), Seattle (No. 9), Austin (No. 11), Miami (No. 18), Dallas (No. 19) and Atlanta (No. 20).

To create the rankings, fDi Intelligence collected data using the specialist online FDI tools – fDi Benchmark and fDi Markets as well as other sources. Data was collected for 116 locations, under five categories: Economic Potential, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Cost Effectiveness, Connectivity, and Business Friendliness. 

Houston by the numbers: 

•    $237 billion, the total value of trade that moved through the Houston region in 2019 
•    1,700 Houston firms reporting foreign ownership 
•    90 countries have official government representation, including consulates and trade offices, in Houston 
•    8,200+ ship visits annually 
•    No. 1 in waterborne tonnage in the U.S. 
•    No. 1 Gulf Coast container port 
•    $339 billion statewide economic impact from the Port of Houston 

Click here to read the full report. 

Executive Partners