Forbes Magazine 1/27/15

When Prasant Pallikandi wanted to open the U.S. branch of his brand communication firm in Boston, his first step was sizing up the competition. The results were disheartening: for every 15 companies Pallikandi identified to target as potential clients, he counted one established branding firm he’d have to edge out. It was a little overwhelming to say the least,” he says. “Being a startup and having to compete with these guys—I was like, how am I going to do that?”

He looked for a city that would give him better odds. When he crunched the numbers, Houston, with its booming energy sector, medical tech firms, and on-fire economy, came out on top. So two years ago, 26-year-old Pallikandi and his wife, Badiana, relocated to Houston, where they now helm the U.S. arm of Ganancia360, the Indian communications firm Pallikandi joined six years ago. So far Ganancia360 has worked with Houston-based energy companies, a handful of tech startups, and one cloud-based technology firm; Pallikandi is now trying hard to crack into med technology next. He has no regrets about trading cities. “There was so much more room to grow,” he says.

Thanks in large part to the boom in horizontal drilling and fracking, which has helped the Houston metro area add a whopping 667,800 new jobs since 2005, the energy city is an economic powerhouse: its 4.5% year-over-year job growth rate is the nation’s fastest. Jobs at major corporations like ConocoPhillips and Halliburton help boost the median annual pay for college-educated workers to $71,900, fourth among America’s 100 largest metro areas. Add to that an economy that grew at a 3.52% clip last year alone, and Houston lands the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ annual list of America’s Fastest-Growing Cities.