Houston is the fourth-most populous city in the United States and is the country’s main center for the energy industry.
The metropolitan area of Houston has over 5 million residents, making it the largest metropolis on the Gulf Coast. With a metropolitan GDP of $489 billion, the city sports a diverse industrial base beyond its significant energy infrastructure.
Houston’s higher education institutions, highlighted by internationally ranked schools such as Rice University and the University of Houston, contribute to Houston’s wide knowledge-based economy. Informational technology and medicine are two of Houston’s largest economic sectors, with the Texas Medical Center in central Houston boasting the world’s largest concentration of healthcare and research institutions. The city is also well known as the home of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and many other aerospace institutions.
Houston is one of the United States’ most international cities. With over ninety consulates located in the city, Houston boasts one of the most diverse populations in the entire country. Two international airports, rail centers, and the Port Houston, which ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage, provide ample transportation and trade links with countries from around the world. Houston is also the only city in the western hemisphere to connect all continents with its numerous direct flight paths.
Houston based economic development organizations such as the Greater Houston Partnership and Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership facilitate business development in the region from a domestic and international standpoint. These organizations often work in concert with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, which handles major international trade conventions and events in Houston. Perhaps the most significant of these events is the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), a major offshore energy conference held annually in the city during the first week of May. The WECP working meeting usually coincides with OTC.