Opportunities for Urban Innovation in Houston

Kinder Institute director William Fulton discusses Houston's changing demographics and economic prospects. He sees the city as a place to pioneer and implement solutions to Sun Belt problems.

1 minute read

May 22, 2016, 7:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Downtown Houston

Houston may soon be the nation's third-largest city. | Silvio Ligutti / Shutterstock

In an interview with Next City publisher Tom Dallessio, Kinder Institute head William Fulton says Houston can and should become a leader in Sun Belt urban innovation. Having served as mayor of Ventura, California, Fulton arrived in a Houston on the verge of rapid change

"I'm amazed at what a dynamic urban place Houston is. It has been having its moment on the national stage recently with the Bayou Greenways plan, the reimagining of the bus system, new bike plan and two new light-rail lines. It's becoming recognized by major urban organizations as a place that is equipped to deal with the emerging issues affecting the entire Sun Belt." 

On the demographic front, "Houston is moving past the old white/black dynamic to much more of a melting pot. There are more Vietnamese people in Houston than in any other area of the U.S. outside of California." Like much of the Sun Belt, Houston now boasts a large Latino population, nearly half of the total. 

If Houston surpasses Chicago to become the third most populous city in the nation, Fulton argues it should also develop leadership approaches to flood resilience and equitable development. 

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