TONYA MOSES — We need government support to capitalize on local growth during pandemic
The greater Port Arthur area is on the verge of economic rebirth with a vast number of expansion projects, both currently underway and in the developmental or permitting phases.
In business, there are numerous factors that affect our ability to be successful; however, some are out of our control such as the current COVID pandemic.
Another aspect that heavily influences our ability to be successful is government — from regulation, employment laws, transportation and infrastructure to taxation.
In Texas, our legislature meets biennially, and 2021 marks our 87th session, currently being held in Austin. Every two years just prior to the convening of our legislature, the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce sits down with local businesses to assess their needs and get to the crux of just what our government can do to improve the business climate in our area.
Our meetings with local business leaders quickly revealed our state and federal government are going to play a critical role in the success of these projects.
Without governmental help and support, we will be unable to fully benefit from current growth or have our expanded economy reach its potential.
Knowing that governmental support was critical and considering the size of the investment that would be required by the state in particular, I was concerned. The pandemic hurt the worldwide economy, including our Texas.
The state’s resources are understandably strained. There will be little discretionary money in the budget to spend on additional projects this session. In order to get the support we so desperately need, it was going to be incumbent upon our area to show the state we are an excellent investment.
In fact, with proper support, the state will enable Port Arthur and our industry and resources to be an integral part of rebuilding the post COVID economy, both here in Texas and beyond. However, in order to garner that type of support, we must prove to the state we are worthy of their investment. Specifically we must prove a “Return On Investment” of their dollars allocated to our area.
The further benefit of this type of documentation is the ability to move many of our requests from the “budgeting” side of the allocation over to the “investment” side of the state’s budget.
This simple accounting maneuver has the ability to open up substantial funding for our area projects.
Intellectually, most of us understand the economic impact of the area from our daily living; however, seeking the numbers to quantify this fact was a different story. It would appear that there wasn’t a resource with the most current information compiled.
John Johnson of Griffith, Moseley, Johnson & Associates set out to collect the data in January of this year. The picture that emerged was quite impressive. In fact, I believe the data is so compelling that it will take Port Arthur from a position to taking “what is left on the table” to a commanding presence.
With the leadership of Representative Dade Phelan as Speaker of the House, Senator Brandon Creighton, and Representative Joe Deshotel, the magnitude of our impact will take on a key position of the state’s agenda. With that being said, it is with great pleasure that I share the following data from our research.
- Home to the largest single refinery in the U.S.
- Home to the largest methanol facility in the U.S.
- Home to four major refineries, with a total throughput capacity of 1.671 MM barrels per day, 8.8 percent of 2019 U.S. refining capacity, but importantly 13 percent of transportation fuels-gasoline, diesel and jet fuel per the Energy Information Agency.
- Home to over 35 chemical and petrochemical facilities.
- Home to the largest single owner crude terminal in the U.S., as well as one of the largest single owner-refined products and transportation fuels terminals.
- Home to the Dept. of Energy Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) intake facility for both the Big Hill and West Hackberry storage facilities, which account for 57 percent of the nation’s crude oil strategic reserve, approximately 400 MM barrels.
- Home to the largest LNG exporter in the U.S., with two additional major facilities either being converted to export capability are under construction.
- The Sabine-Neches Waterway is the # 1 liquid bulk cargo waterway in the U.S.
- The area is an Origin for 3 major petroleum products pipelines; supplying by pipeline the entire eastern and mid-continental US (except New England) with transportation and home heating fuels.
- $54 billion in announced and proposed industrial projects along the Sabine-Neches Waterway in SETX.
- Currently SETX represents 1.53% of GDP, 5.9% of the manufacturing GDP and 1.52% of labor force.
- Texas is ranked 2nd in the US for waterborne commerce. The Sabine-Neches Waterway handles 22% of Texas’s cargo and 4.7% of the US cargo total. This generates $5 billion in state and local revenue and $9 billion in federal revenue annually.
- Texas represents 30% of the US refining capacity and SETX represents 26.5% of Texas refining capacity.
- Texas governmental expenditures for all counties is $98.3 billion with SETX receiving less than 1% with only $995.8 million. The current allocation of funds fails to represent SETX 1.53% of the GDP by over 30%. This is without counting the $54 billion in expansion projects thereby increasing the state’s revenue and tax base proportionally.
In short, Port Arthur is truly something quite special. We have a rare opportunity for Southeast Texas to become a critical part of our state and national reemergence from the COVID era economy.
To do that we will need the support of our legislature. Together we can help ensure the success of both Port Arthur and the state of Texas reaches its full potential.
Tonya Moses is chairwoman of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee.