HOUSTON (August 30, 2011) – More than 500 customers, suppliers and vendors dependent on petrochemical and maritime industries listened to positive economic growth news from local industry leaders and heard federal and state elected officials pledge to create a positive economic and regulatory environment for continued growth of industries in the Houston Port Region. The upbeat messages were delivered during an economic outlook conference sponsored by the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region along with presenting sponsor, the Port of Houston Authority (PHA).
The conference examined the region’s economic outlook with presenters sharing forecasts of capital investment and large maintenance projects that will position local refineries and chemical plants as well as the Port of Houston for continued growth. Alec Dryer, president and CEO of the PHA told the audience of plans to build infrastructure and increase capacity to handle increased ship traffic expected from the 2014 completion of the Panama Canal expansion.
The Panama Canal expansion doubles the capacity coming through that region. The PHA is
preparing to attract the increased product trade to Houston by continuing the construction buildout
of the port’s Bayport terminal and major upgrades to replace or refurbish older port facilities.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett focused more broadly on Harris County’s attraction as a
global trade partner with many regions, including India and China. While acknowledging the
port’s focus on the Panama Canal, Judge Emmett discussed the need to build relationships with
other regions with great promise that see Houston as an attractive entry port to the United States.
“Our region’s future is tied to global trade. We must take steps now to assure our destiny
as ‘The Gateway of North America’,” Emmett told the audience during a keynote speech.
Emmett reminded the group that it is important that the region, led by Harris County, begin to
provide infrastructure needed to support the growing demand of the port of Houston, the ship
channel industry and the many other industries that need improved rail, roads and bridges.
Executives from local petrochemical companies in the Houston Ship Channel region,
DuPont, Shell, Dow and ExxonMobil, echoed Judge Emmett’s comments that infrastructure
needs are vital to industry success, whether infrastructure to provide access and transportation or
infrastructure to deliver cost efficient feedstock and energy supply. Additionally, to compete and
remain viable in the United States and global markets, industry needs to continue to reduce costs,
strengthen asset capability and improve reliability. These strategies ultimately will lead to
growth, added jobs and increased capital investment. Engineering, procurement and construction
professionals in the audience were encouraged to hear that industry plans to invest considerable
capital to upgrade facilities to compete in the United States and in global markets.
Industry leaders also discussed the need for a robust economic climate and consistent
regulatory environment that both protects community and worker health as well as creates jobs.
Members of East Harris County Manufacturers Association, a sponsor of the event, directly hire
about 35,000 employees. Indirect and direct jobs from those companies total more than 350,000
good paying jobs for people living in the greater Houston region.
Congressmen Gene Green and Pete Olson both pledged to work with the region in
assuring that federal regulation provides necessary protection while providing long-term certainty
of rules and regulation so that business and industry can continue to invest billions of dollars in
capital and maintenance dollars.
“For the second consecutive year the economic outlook conference delivered great
value,” said Chad Burke, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region.
“Our members learned about expansion projects at the Port of Houston and growth plans within
the refining and chemical industry. The economic forecast is encouraging for the Houston Port
About Economic Alliance Houston Port Region
The Economic Alliance Houston Port Region provides professional economic development
services on behalf of 16 communities surrounding the 25-mile Houston Ship Channel – home to
one of the world’s most influential energy corridor and trade ports. The Economic Alliance role
is to market and grow a vibrant regional economy.
Quotes from individual industry presenters:
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett:
“Our region’s future is tied to global trade. We must take steps now to assure our destiny as
‘The Gateway of North America’.”
Tammy Little, Refinery Production Manager, Shell Deer Park:
“It all comes back to people. Everyone in our organization came together to achieve a critical
transformation for our chemicals business – dramatically improving our cost, HSSE, asset
capabilities and profitability, and ultimately strengthening our long-term viability.”
David McConville, ExxonMobil Chemical Senior Planning Advisor:
“Our unique Chemical portfolio mix captures the benefits of scale in commodities chemicals,
while maximizing the value from specialties products where we hold the number 1 or number 2
market positions in all products.”
Chad Burke, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region:
“For the second consecutive year the economic outlook conference delivered great value. Our
members learned about expansion projects at the Port of Houston and growth plans within the
refining and chemical industry. The economic forecast is encouraging for the Houston Port