“The vision for the city, based on input from [City Council] as well as from other community leaders and business leaders, is really for Missouri City to be recognized within the Greater Houston area as one of the top locations for new development, for business growth and expansion and also leveraging the assets that you have,” TIP Strategies Senior Consultant John Karras said.
The city’s accessible location and close proximity to regional activity centers such as the Texas Medical Center may be leveraged for business recruitment, TIP Strategies Senior Partner Jeff Marcell said. Other strategies for business recruitment and expansion involve increasing space for warehouses, manufacturing, offices and other commercial uses.
Increasing office space will drive up day time population and spur business activity in the community, Economic Development Director Joe Esch said.
Mayor Allen Owen said an investment in multifamily residences, particularly near Hwy. 90A and Beltway 8, is vital to stimulating economic activity.
“We have to do [multifamily developments], but we have to do it right,” Owen said. “We’ve all been around long enough to see what happened on Gessner and Fondren, when those apartments got flipped so many times and now it’s a crime ridden part of Houston, but I think with our controls that we have in place—zoning [regulations] and such—we can control what they look like and try to get some very upscale, multifamily [developments] in that area.”
Separate from recruitment, it is also important for the city to support existing businesses, directing efforts and programs toward small business development and investing in the local workforce, Karras said. Resources for consideration include establishing a city department concentrating specifically on economic development efforts and improving the review process for potential businesses, Karras said.
Missouri City’s demographics stand out with its high levels of income, education attainment, diversity and population growth, Marcell said. Challenges the city faces include its over reliance on residential homes for its tax base and lack of dedicated resources for economic development, he said.
“[Economic development] is about expanding the commercial tax base so that the city can continue to provide the services that it currently does—perhaps even expanding to higher level services—while at the same time, not having an overburden on the residential property tax base,” Karras said.
The city should direct attention to key thoroughfares such as FM 1092, Cartwright Road, Hwy. 6 and Texas Parkway, which may hold empty or underutilized spaces to be used for commercial, retail or entertainment developments, Karras said.
“You have this incredible asset right next door, [Houston Community College on Texas Parkway],” Karras said. “There’s a lot of land surrounding it. What we’re recommending is taking a look at that as a starter for new developments—to spark some new energy along this corridor.”
In terms of helping the city establish an identity within the Greater Houston area as a place to do business, the city should promote positive messaging and creating a stronger link with Sienna Plantation, which is a burgeoning customer base for the city’s existing businesses, Karras said.
City leaders should also look into investing in a “catalyst project,” which would put Missouri City on the map in a big way, he said.
For example, developing National Football League stadiums and corporate headquarters have revitalized less affluent communities and cities made of mostly blue-collar workers, Marcell said.
“That is the kind of homerun project that would completely revolutionize the city,” he said.
TIP Strategies plans to take feedback from council members and spend the rest of February making final revisions to the presented economic development plan, Marcell said. If City Council adopts the plan, implementation may begin in the spring.