Even prior to COVID-19, the oil and gas sector was starting to take a hit. And in Houston, which is the energy capital of the world with about 4,600 to 4,800 energy firms, the pandemic only made it worse. The result of the oil industry’s downturn combined with jobs coming offline in response to the pandemic, Houston saw significant job shedding with a net loss of about 250,000 jobs by the end of the second quarter of 2020.
Greater Houston Partnership, the region’s economic development leader, was already on track with an industry-focused strategic plan already in place that became even more critical following the impact from the pandemic.
What does the oil & gas sector look like post-COVID?
We spoke with Susan Davenport at Greater Houston Partnership to learn how the region and the industry as a whole is pivoting. Susan shared that the crisis demanded a reprioritization, which led to the pivot towards Energy 2.0, and more specifically, the renewables and clean technology sector.
“We have all of these energy R&D centers through all of our major companies in the area and high quality talent from the 40 institutions of higher learning in this region,” shares Susan. “We had to examine whether or not we had the full complement of where we know sector growth is moving towards in renewables, clean tech, and all of the different facets that go along with that.”
Essentially, the existing assets puts the region in a position to promote innovation in the energy sector as part of business attraction and job creation. In fact, Greentown Labs, the largest climate tech and clean tech incubator in North America, recently expanded into the Houston region.
The energy transition
Susan continues by adding:
“Even in January before COVID, at our annual meeting, our chairman talked about the energy transition and how Houston would lead that, and that was a surprising message to many. But the fact of it is we have the entire industry sector here, and so we do need to lead that. And that talent that is so well educated around energy could provide the base of talent to move into the Energy 2.0 arena and help bridge the gap. We have this ready workforce that understand the tenants of energy, the markets, and how it functions, and that’s a huge asset for our recruitment opportunities.”
Susan shares more insight on the Houston episode of our Economic Development Podcast available here.
Economic Development Podcast series
As economic development marketers, Blueprint Creative launched the podcast series to drive thought leadership and shape best practices as we move towards recovery and resiliency in a post-pandemic world. Throughout the series, leaders discuss the changing dynamics of the economic development industry as a whole and predict the trends that may shift their targeted industries.
The series features economic development leaders from across the country and can be checked out here.