As a Houston-based business owner, you will undoubtedly be proud of the city’s robust economy, diverse population and unparalleled resilience. The impressive reputation of Houston and the growth that it has experienced, and continues to experience, makes it a highly sought-after location for expanding companies – and potentially very profitable for those interested in selling a business in Houston.
What makes Houston so hospitable to a community of over 125,000 businesses? Houston is the only large city in the country without zoning laws, reducing restrictions for those seeking to build and grow their company. In addition, the area is ranked third in the Paychex and IHS' Small Business Jobs Index, while also being home to 20 Fortune 500 companies, the second largest concentration in the country. No matter the scale, entrepreneurs can feel right at home in Houston.
Success in Houston’s Business Growth
It is no surprise that organizations such as Thrillist and FitSmallBusiness.com have ranked Houston so highly as a city where businesses thrive. The metro area boasts the sixth strongest economy in the country with an enviable GDP of $478 billion that is expected to more than double by 2040. To put this in perspective, if the Houston area was its own country, it’s wealth would outrank Poland and Nigeria. This thriving economic environment, with growth in the Business-Cycle Index since Hurricane Harvey at an impressive 7.6%, continues to support expanding companies, and attracts professional buyers globally.
While Houston’s business landscape is vibrant across all industries, it is considered a world leader in energy and healthcare. The renowned Energy Corridor District is home to many prevalent companies, including ExxonMobil, BP America and Shell Oil. This distinction in the energy sector is matched by Houston’s proliferation of healthcare organisations – the largest concentration in the world – with the Texas Medical Center fostering over 75 new start-ups in recent years.
This reputation as a hotbed for growth consistently attracts investment, which is a great benefit for anyone selling a business in Houston.
The People That Make Houston Prosper
The strength of Houston’s business environment is found in its population. How many other economies would have demonstrated such endurance after a disaster the scale of Hurricane Harvey? Houston’s metro area has a population of 6.9 million, the fifth most populous in the U.S. – a number that continues to grow. This diverse population, with no single majority race or ethnicity, is a valuable resource for business owners in the area.
Indeed, the Houston MSA boasts 3.1 million jobs, a total that exceeds more than 35 states in their entirety. People continue to be attracted to Houston for several reasons, not least of which is the low living costs. The overall cost of living is 21% below the average among the 20 most populated metro areas, while Forbes in 2015 ranked it second among cities where pay checks stretch the furthest. This affordability, as well as the lack of income tax and other state benefits, makes the area a hotbed for entrepreneurship.
It is no wonder therefore that the metro area and surrounding suburbs have been ranked in the top ten by Livability and Apartments List for places to live and work in the U.S., particularly for millennials. The fantastic education in the area is another driving factor: Rice University is one of the country’s top fifteen universities, and its graduate entrepreneurship studies program ranks in the top five nationally, gearing the next generation of perceptive, enthusiastic business owners and managers.
Houston’s Entrepreneurial Spirit
As mentioned, Houston is the only major city in the U.S. that doesn’t have zoning laws for business locations. This unrestricted movement makes it an exceptional environment for investors looking to expand in the area, while also establishing a culture of entrepreneurial support, rather than competition. Houston’s supportive setting was demonstrated in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, with many companies pledging millions to the relief effort.
Plus, in recent years, the cost of office space in Houston has been as low as $300 per square foot. This is almost half that of New York City, which is pretty great for one of the most populous areas in the U.S. Furthermore, the Texas Economic Development Act has benefited dozens of corporations in Houston, allowing them to apply for tax exemptions if they promise to create high-paying jobs.
Houston Location, Infrastructure and Transport
Houston is a king on land, air and water. International trade directly or indirectly supports over a third of jobs in the area, making its incredible infrastructure a boon for business owners in every industry. The jewel in the crown is Port Houston, which handles the second most total tonnage in the country, and the most foreign waterborne tonnage. It also dominates the profitable Gulf Coast as its largest container port, handling 68% of all traffic from this area.
From the water to the skies, Houston witnessed 54.1 million airport passengers in 2017, and has nonstop links to 182 destinations. This is expected to increase in the near future, with Bush Intercontinental Airport, which already handles 1.5 billion pounds of freight and mail each year, completing a $244 million expansion of Terminal C North and an entire fourth terminal expected to arrive in 2020. This frequent stream of people and cargo is an attractive prospect for business owners in a global economy.
In fact, over 5,000 Houston-based companies do business abroad, which is a testament to the worldwide links of the city, and the prosperity of the landscape allowing for activity to extend throughout the globe. For those selling a business in Houston, this international reach is a powerful factor in attracting professional buyers.