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Home / News / County leaders diversify economic base

County leaders diversify economic base

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By Lora-Marie Bernard

Galveston County leaders have plans to diversify the county economic base in order to prepare residents for the future. The diversification includes a push to bring more aerospace companies over Clear Creek and to draw more biomedical industries from Houston, said Bix Rathburn, who recently resigned as the county economic developer to begin his own firm. He discussed eight target industries that he said would be wooed in coming years after he discussed the county with site selectors who are looking for new places to relocate. The industries are: aerospace, biomedical, company and regional headquarters, maritime, foreign direct investment, metal working, petrochemical and plastics.

Rathburn discussed the future of Galveston County economic development during the recent Citizens Advisory Panel meeting at the Nessler Center. He said he knows that petrochemical companies are expected to be on the list but he noted that some may be surprised that the county would look at aerospace. Technological advancements means that a NASA contractor doesn’t have to have its office directly next door to the space center anymore.

The 2017 Global aerospace and defense outlook reviews the industry’s performance in 2016 and expectations for 2017. It outlines a long term projection for aircraft production, as well as an analysis of global defense spending. It also provides perspectives on defense contractor expectations, growth in travel demand driven by wealth creation in Asia and the Middle East, and observations on what travel demand means for the commercial aerospace sub-sector.This year’s outlook finds global aerospace and defense (A&D) industry revenues expected to resume growth, driven by higher defense spending. Trends forecast a return to growth. The global aerospace and defense industry is likely to experience stronger growth in 2017. Following multiple years of positive but a subdued rate of growth, the report forecasts the sector revenues will likely grow by about 2.0 percent in 2017. “You think that Ellington and Nasa Road 1 are the places to be,” he said. “But this area has room to grow.”

Even though regional and company headquarter relocation has never been a focus of the county, Rathburn said it soon will be. Transportation efficiencies and new Class A buildings will soon make north county more attractive to them. One day, Interstate-45 will not have congestion between the beltway and the island, he said.  “Inside Houston, I can’t help you,” he said. “But there will be 10 to 12 lanes of highway that will be a straight shot. They will be able to work in Houston and live as far into Texas City as Lago Mar.”

Workforce makeup is among the top concerns of site selectors and Rathburn said Galveston County’s educational system will create one that will attract metal working, plastic resins and maritime employees. ?

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