Houston Port region courts 23 capital projects
Approximately 250 member companies make up the Port of Houston Region’s membership of the Economic Alliance.
That’s a relatively small number, considering that these companies and contractors generate up to 21% of Texas’ gross domestic product.
“We are an economic development organization serving the Port of Houston region,” said Chad Burke, the group’s president and CEO. “It’s our job to increase capital investment, so we work mainly with the petrochemical industry, especially the owners, to convince them and help them build more facilities in the region.
“We’re here to grow the economy,” Burke summed up. “We support this through initiatives with public policy, transport and infrastructure.”
The region’s footprint spans a 25-mile stretch along the Houston Ship Channel, and includes the world’s largest petrochemical complex and is the nation’s number one port for energy exports.
“Right now, we’re working on 23 projects worth just over $6.1 billion in capital investment,” Burke said.
These projects will stimulate the region by generating up to four thousand new direct jobs in countless industries, including petrochemicals, alternative fuels, real estate and other sectors.
The Port of Houston region experienced three significant wins in 2022, thanks to investments made by OxyVinyl, Chevron and Kaneka, including a one-time capital investment of $1.6 billion, resulting in 750 direct jobs retained and 100 jobs created directly, Burke said.
“These multi-million dollar decisions to invest in the Port of Houston region were made based on the area’s available assets to support a productive and efficient operation in Houston,” Burke said proudly.
Those available assets include the region’s proximity to raw materials, including Texas and U.S. shale oil and gas, and its proximity to global markets through the Port of Houston, Burke said.
Further, the U.S. enjoys a safe and stable business environment, and “we have a competitive workforce to build, maintain and operate these facilities,” Burke said.
In addition to other transportation infrastructure improvements, the Houston Ship Channel expansion project, Project 11, specifically focuses on improving the channel to improve economic growth and a safer and more efficient waterway.
Working in conjunction with the US Army Corps of Engineers, the $1 billion investment will not only widen the canal from 530 feet to 700 feet, but also deepen the upstream segments to 46.5 feet.
“They’re currently excavating here,” Burke said, adding that he expects those improvements to be completed by the end of 2023.
In a speech at the World Heat Exchanger Conference and Expo held recently in Pasadena, Texas, Burke pledged that the Economic Alliance will continue to protect and enhance the Port of Houston region in the coming year and beyond.
Public policy and federal advocacy “never ends,” Burke said. “Everything we do, policy-wise, reflects the needs of our customers, owners, manufacturers and distributors who work here in our region.”
Burke said the Economic Alliance’s Public Policy Task Force produces a federal policy white paper each year to allow members and partners to “advocate as a region with one voice.” The 2022 document discussed infrastructure and investments related to the expansion of the Houston Ship Channel; Federal community college priorities for workforce opportunities; a coastal barrier that would protect the region from hurricanes and open competition.
“Everything we do supports the growth of our industry,” Burke said, adding that the Houston Port Region of the Economic Alliance contributes to the continued success of the area by “marketing jobs to the kids coming out of high school that we needed in this region to continue our prosperity and growth.”