International. World-class. Cosmopolitan. These are all words used to describe cities that have stretched beyond their own municipal limits to gain credibility and awareness around the world.
In 2012, Bloomberg identified the most global cities based upon business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience and political engagement.
The top Ten list was comprised of New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seoul, Brussels and Washington. There’s no need to reference the country that these cities call home because everyone already knows the answer.
So what other factors impact a city’s efforts to be a world player?
Direct foreign investment
Whether foreign or domestic, this leads to economic growth and job creation. An investor who is successful in the U.S. employs more Americans and more people in their home country.
Forbes noted two of Houston’s major economic industries — energy and trade — as two of the driving forces behind the area’s success.
According to research from the Greater Houston Partnership, regions with higher concentrations of engineers tend to do better, and seize the leadership of key industries.
Sixty-one percent of foreign direct investment in Houston comes from Europe. With the increase in new direct international flights to Houston, opportunity exists to increase investment from other areas.
The Houston Intercontinental Airport Terminal D serves about 2 million international passengers a year who are increasingly traveling to destinations in Asia.
While Terminal D used to be a hub for Latin American flights, its newer international flights are focused on destinations in Korea, China and Europe.
Terminal D has only six gates to handle the wide-body aircraft that are necessary to fly long international flights to Europe or Asia.
The plan for the new Terminal D includes 15 international wide-body gates that will handle the wide-body aircraft.
Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker traveled on the first Scandinavian Airlines nonstop flight between Houston and Stavanger, Norway, which is being marketed to the oil and gas industry.
Others include Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, Air China to Beijing and Korean Air to the Seoul area with plans for more.
Air China attributed its decision to enter the U.S. market — and more specifically Houston — to the demand from local citizens. Coupled with forward-thinking city leaders resulted in this direct connection, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, coming to fruition.
Forbes made the prediction that within a decade, Houston will be known as “America’s next great global city” in its article “A Map of America’s Future: Where Growth Will Be Over the Next Decade,” part of its Reinventing America series.
With its diverse population both engaged and involved, Houston is creating opportunities. It takes time, perseverance, vision, patience, leadership and collaboration. Houston is a city that embraces community involvement for the betterment of its future. ●