With $50 billion in capital investment since 2010, the Corpus Christi region ranks as one of the largest industrial and energy-related project magnets in the world.
The roll call of heavyweight investors reads like a Who’s Who of big business: ExxonMobil, SABIC, Citgo, Talen Energy, Magellan, Air Liquide, Haliburton, Valero, Cheniere, Kiewit, TPCO, LyondellBasell and Howard Energy, just to name a few.
The growth wave is not subsiding anytime soon either. Three years into the 5-year strategic plan of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corp., the organization has tallied $30 billion in capital investment, 2,200 new jobs and $151 million in payroll.
“We are a relatively congestion-free deepwater port on the Gulf of Mexico. We have the pipeline infrastructure to handle massive amounts of product. We have an experienced and technically proficient workforce, and we are doubling our capacity for our process technology program in our local college,” says Iain Vasey, president and CEO of the CCREDC. “We will double the number of graduates from that program this year, and then we plan to double it again in another two years. We are not standing pat.”
The evidence on the ground confirms that assertion. The Coastal Bend region continues to invest into its workforce, infrastructure and qualified sites. The CCREDC Qualified Sites program delivers parcels where substantial due diligence has been completed; significant site information has been gathered, documented and made available for submission on inquiries; independent third-party engineering and environmental studies have been done; and an established price on the property has been set by the owner.
“A CCREDC Qualified Site is a development-ready industrial site that has been identified initially in the CCREDC inventory of sites and then has completed a rigorous review process by CCREDC staff and local engineering and environmental consultants,” the organization states. “Specific site details, such as zoning restrictions, title work, environmental studies, soil analysis and surveys, are assessed for compliance and authenticity. The majority of the costs for environmental and engineering due diligence work will be funded by CCREDC with property owners expected to fund some of the costs and is a negotiated amount between the site owner and CCREDC.”
Proactive programs like this have enabled the region to rack up an impressive haul of capital investments recently. Among them are the $750-million investment by Permico, creating 72 full-time jobs; a $600-million investment by EPIC Y Grade, creating 10 jobs; a $9.5-billion project by Gulf Coast Growth Ventures (ExxonMobil and SABIC), creating 636 jobs; and a $14.5-billion project by Cheniere, creating 250 jobs.
But the CCREDC is focused not just on landing the home runs from outside. The organization is equally committed to helping home-grown operations expand. Its business retention and expansion program is widely considered to be one of the best in the business. During 2018, CCREDC staff members conducted more than 80 business retention visits. These face-to-face business meetings allows for in-depth conversations about the current business climate in the region, potential impacts and opportunities for growth.
A survey of regional businesses revealed recently that 95 percent of participants said they would consider the Coastal Bend for expansion; 78 percent ranked the stability of the workforce as above average; and 55 percent indicated they would expand within the next three years.
Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.