Economic official: Bay Area economy chugging along

Dan Seal, League City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bay Area economy, BAHEP, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Dan Seal, executive director of special initiatives for the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, speaks during a League City Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast May 13. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

Dan Seal, executive director of special initiatives for the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, speaks during a League City Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast May 13. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

Despite hurricanes, COVID-19, the February freeze and other hurdles, economic development in the Bay Area continues to move ahead in several industries, said Dan Seal, executive director of special initiatives for the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership.

Speaking during a League City Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast May 13, Seal spoke highly of the chemicals and manufacturing, health care, aerospace, maritime and tourism industries and how they are faring the economy.

“Almost all of them are firing on all cylinders,” he said.

East of Houston is Mont Belvieu, a city with huge salt domes capable of storing natural gas and fossil fuel products. About 90% of the country’s natural gas liquids are stored in Mont Belvieu, and 70% of those products never leave the area. That is why there are huge manufacturing plants across the Greater Houston region, Seal said.

“It’s the cheapest source of natural gas in the entire world,” he said.

On the west side of Houston are energy production plants, and in the Bay Area are plastics manufacturing plants. Four of the eight largest ethylene complexes in the world are in the Houston area. About $60 billion of new plants were recently constructed or about to be constructed, Seal said.

In the health care industry, major hospitals such as MD Anderson, Memorial Hermann, Houston Methodist, University of Texas Medical Branch and others have a presence in the Clear Lake area. All of them recently expanded, are in the process of expanding or plan to expand soon, Seal said.

Concerning aerospace, NASA’s budget continues to increase. Its most recent budget of $22.6 billion is the highest it has been since the Apollo era, and 30% of it flows through the Johnson Space Center.

Phase 1 of the Houston Spaceport, which will be a 640-acre campus for aerospace businesses and a site from which residents will eventually be able to board hyper- and supersonic flights, is complete. Axiom, which will build the first private space station, will soon break ground at the spaceport, adding 800 new jobs to the area, Seal said.

“Trust me: A lot of those folks will be living right here in League City,” he said.

Tourism is returning to normal, which is good because the Bay Area, being the only part of Houston that touches the water, is the city’s playground, Seal said.

The area is known for birding, boating, cruises and other recreation, and tourism officials are trying to get people to visit for two- or three-day stints to increase the economic impact on hotels, restaurants and other businesses, Seal said.

Additionally, Texas has a reputation for bouncing back from economic strife, which is partly why several companies are relocating from California and New York to the Houston area, Seal said.

“You can’t keep Texas down,” he said.

One example of the “Texodus,” as Seal dubbed the trend of people relocating from other states to Texas, is Venus Aerospace, which is coming from California to build space planes capable of flying to other continents in mere hours.

Economic boons mean more rooftops: Several developments are happening across Houston, and many are happening in League City, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country in terms of population, Seal said.

Other reasons for the Bay Area’s economic fortune are a great school system that results in a highly skilled workforce, great infrastructure such as rail and highways already in place, a low cost of living with a great quality of life and more, Seal said. When companies realize the value and move to Houston, it does not matter where specifically they go because the benefit is felt by all, Seal said.

“When we get a company into this entire region, we all benefit,” he said.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.



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