Jun 6, 2014
Emily McMackin
Emily McMackin
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Cities Focus on Promoting Image, Culture to Compete for Talent

Downtown Houston, TX

Image sells: That’s what many cities across the U.S. are discovering as they compete with each other to attract and retain fresh, highly educated talent to fuel industries that are increasingly becoming more tech-driven.

Houston is a prime example. With a booming energy and technology sector and an abundance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs to go around, the city can’t attract enough talent as one of the hottest economic markets in the nation. But while the oil mecca is known for its profitability, it doesn’t have the best reputation for its livability. To counteract this negative and somewhat skewed image, city leaders are launching a slick, multimedia campaign titled “Houston: The City With No Limits” (take a peek here).

The campaign is just getting rolling, but it will eventually target workers in other markets, particularly in fields such as engineering, cloud computing, software development and biotech; in other words, STEM fields at the upper echelon of pay and expertise. College towns will be another target market, especially places that educate these types of workers but don’t provide much job opportunity for them upon graduation.

Image building isn’t cheap. The campaign is expected to cost the Greater Houston Partnership $12 million, but it’s a worthy investment, according to economic development leaders who say the nation’s fourth largest city has missed out on attracting jobs as well as corporate and regional headquarters because it doesn’t have the “cool” perception that large cities like New York, San Francisco and others do.

A 30-second video promoting the campaign seeks to capture all of the quality-of-life perks that Houston isn’t known for, but perhaps should be: its upscale lifestyle, eclectic art, live music and foodie scene, rapid transit, pedestrian-friendly streets, abundant green space, diverse cultures, innovative past, fun-loving atmosphere and youthful population.

It remains to be seen how this campaign will play out for Houston, but using culture to attract jobs, investment and talent is a strategy that has proved to be successful for other cities like Austin, Nashville and Wichita. Read more about how these cities are using quality of life to attract and retain talent here.

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  • June 6, 2014

    […] “Image sells: That’s what many cities across the U.S. are discovering as they compete with each other to attract and retain fresh, highly educated talent to fuel industries that are increasingly becoming more tech-driven.”  […]

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  • June 7, 2014
    Ed Burghard wrote:

    Readers should not separate image from substance. Brands must be authentic to be effective. That is why Houston’s effort will deliver results. It is making people aware of what it is truly like to live and work in the city. Readers can learn more about community branding by visiting the http://www.strengtheningbrandamerica.com website.

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  • June 7, 2014

    […] why is Houston, not mentioned more often as one of these “gateway cities”? According to BusinessDictionary.com […]

    Reply to this post