State's top policy researchers to collaborate on Texas Blueprint for Urban Policy

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September 22, 2020
steering committee

"Texas urbanism must be developed by Texans, and the time is now."
— Steven Pedigo, LBJ Urban Lab director


AUSTIN — A coalition of the state's top public policy research institutions will work together to create the Texas Blueprint for Urban Policy, an outline for the future focused on a comprehensive suite of new plans for economic development, housing, land use and transportation.

The blueprint, to be completed ahead of the Texas Legislature's 2021 session, will be guided by a steering committee of esteemed leaders from the state's public, private and nonprofit sectors drawn from across the political spectrum. It will be developed through a collaboration between the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs Urban Lab at The University of Texas at Austin, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University and the George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative.

Bill Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute, pointed out that more than 80 percent of Texans — 25 million people — live in metropolitan areas. Texas is home to five of America's 15 largest cities — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth — as well as two of its 10 fastest-growing cities, Midland and Odessa.

"Texas is undeniably an urban and metropolitan state," he said. "We are proud to be part of this statewide effort with the LBJ Urban Lab and Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative to bring urban and metropolitan issues to the fore in Austin next year."

Texas's economic future depends on addressing the challenges facing its metro areas, said Steven Pedigo, director of the LBJ Urban Lab. The issues are not unique, he said, but the political environment is, given that the state is unusually independent and market-oriented.

"Texas cannot simply copy San Francisco or New York's initiatives," Pedigo said. "Texas urbanism must be developed by Texans, and the time is now."

The blueprint set to be released this December will address improving cooperation among the state's public, private and philanthropic sectors, an effort meant to complement but not duplicate the efforts of existing policy initiatives.

"Cities and metropolitan areas are the engines that power Texas's economy," said Cullum Clark, director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative. "We have pulled together some of the state's leading minds and practitioners to shape policy priorities aimed at making Texas metros more innovative, efficient and equitable."

Steering committee members

Henry Cisneros

Co-Chief Investment Officer and Co-Founder

American Triple I Partners

Amanda Edwards

Former At-Large City Council Member

City of Houston

Ed Emmett

Kinder Institute for Urban Research; Professor in the Practice, Rice University

Distinguished Senior Fellow, Global Resilience Institute, Northeastern University

Linda Perryman Evans

Former President and CEO

Meadows Foundation

Jesus Garza

Board Member

San Antonio Federal Reserve Branch

Laura Huffman

President and CEO

Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

Taylor Landin

Chief Policy Officer

Greater Houston Partnership

Dee Margo


City of El Paso

Linda McMahon

President & CEO

The Real Estate Council, Dallas

Brian Newby

Managing Partner

Cantey Hangar LLP

Miguel Solis

Executive Director

Coalition for a New Dallas

Margaret Spellings

President and CEO

Texas 2036

Annise Parker

President and CEO

Victory Fund

Ross Perot Jr.

Chairman, Hillwood & The Perot Group

Carolyn Watson

Vice President, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Kirk Watson

Founding Dean

Hobby School of Public Affairs, University of Houston