The President of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston, Sanjay Ramabhadran, was invited to join a Panel at the National Journal’s “The Next America: Foundations of Prosperity” event at the Hilton Americas on September 3, 2014. The event was keynoted by former Houston Mayor Bill White and moderated by Ron Brownstein, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of presidential campaigns and Atlantic Media’s Editorial Director for Strategic Partnerships. The other panelists included Juliet Stipeche – Chair of HISD Board of Trustees, State Representative Scott Turner, Dr. Steve Murdock – former Director of the U.S. Census Bureau & the State Demographer of Texas, and Dr. Laura Murillo – President / CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Underwritten by MasterCard, the National Journal convened local opinion leaders for a robust discussion on the demographic changes in Houston, minority financial inclusion, wealth building, business ownership and education.
Sanjay Ramabhadran highlighted that there is no better place to be than in Houston if you are a small business owner, or from minority communities that have chosen to come make Houston home. He explained how this allows Houston to tap into the immigrant community’s network globally for investments in Houston and Texas. He cited examples of investments by Mahindra, technology companies and those of energy giants into shale gas and LNG.
According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, the United States will not have a clear racial or ethnic majority by 2043. The country’s shifting demographics have had huge implications for the nation’s economy, and the ripple effects of these changes are already being felt in many areas across the U.S. No city better embodies these trends than Houston, Texas. Houston recently surpassed New York City as one of the most racially and ethnically diverse cities in the country, has one of the nation’s highest immigration rates and is one of the top metropolitan areas for job growth and minority entrepreneurship.
Questions explored included: Why has Houston been so successful at creating jobs compared to other metros? what is the role of small business ownership in narrowing opportunity gaps? What are the biggest opportunities-and obstacles-facing minority owned small businesses in this region? To what extent does the population change itself create new economic opportunities? Is the state producing the skilled workers its employers need? How can the country close its widening wealth gap? What investments need to be made to improve minority access to education and key monetary services? How does minority business ownership impact community growth? And what lessons can be learned from recent demographic developments in Houston?