So just how important is Houston's economy in the national landscape? Important enough to merit a visit from Melissa Francis, host of Fox Business channel's Money with Melissa Francis. The savvy anchor formerly of CNBC has had a long career on television stretching back to childhood (she had a recurring role on Little House on the Prairie and says Michael Landon was a pretty good guy).

Money will be broadcasting from Houston this Thursday and Friday. Francis' guests while she's in town (Thursday at Rice University, Friday at the George R. Brown Convention Center) will include Kinder Morgan CEO Rich Kinder, BHP Billiton Petroleum CEO Mike Yeager and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Houston's relatively strong housing market and job growth are just part of the reason why Money is bringing the show to Texas. We threw Francis a few other questions.

We know we're pretty cool, but why are you coming to Houston?
Houston is on the cutting edge. When we sat down to look at the places where things are really happening in the country-where there are jobs, where business is being done-Houston was at the top of the list.

Is there anything the rest of the country can learn from Houston?
Absolutely. And that's part of why we want to come down. The pro-business environment in Texas has led to tremendous growth-the kind of thing you just don't see in other states, such as California for instance. We'll be talking to experts about what lessons other states and cities can learn from Texas and Houston.

There's a lot of buzz over you being the inspiration for 30 Rock's Avery Jessup. I don't watch the show, is she cool?
She's pretty cool. I've gotten a chance to play a small part in one episode of the show and it was absolutely great. It's a great group of people.

Who do you most respect as a business mind?
You know when I had the chance a few years ago to interview T. Boone Pickens, who of course is a major figure in Texas, he talked about natural gas and the tremendous potential it has as an energy resource. A lot of people dismissed him, saying he was just trying to talk up something that would benefit him. But just a few years later fracking and other methods of extraction have made natural gas a huge resource. If people had listened to Pickens you have to wonder if we wouldn't be much further ahead. He's certainly a smart business mind out of Texas.

Check out more on Francis' visit from the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Business Journal.