Indicators giving mixed signals on the economic future of Southeast Texas


Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan R-Beaumont said he plans to focus the 2023 legislative session on infrastructure if Republicans re-elect him as head, using money from the “fund for people”. rainy days ”of the state’s $ 13 billion and Texas share of Congress-approved money intended for national reconstruction.

Phelan, in comments on the Southeast Texas Economic Development Foundation’s annual economic forecast, said Monday that financial analysts told state officials he had poor infrastructure and that too money into the state’s economic stabilization fund, which stands at about $ 13 billion.

“I don’t disagree,” Phelan said of that assessment. “We are not keeping pace. “

He said about 1,000 people a day move to Texas and it is the state’s responsibility to provide public education and health care, which is 78% of the state’s biennial budget, and to plan investments that support jobs, such as transportation and improvements. in rural and urban broadband.

An initial amount of $ 500 million in broadband is already announced, but adequate interconnectability is still in the billions of dollars.

The continuing pandemic has also made it clear that Texas needs to rely more on distance learning, as education underpins new jobs, Phelan said.

The Biden administration is making $ 7 billion available through its infrastructure improvement bill, and Texas could make up the difference by spending $ 14 billion on investments using money from its “fund for infrastructure. rainy days, ”he said.

He said Texas has about 11 million jobs open. But while 1,000 or more people a day move around the state, they don’t come to Southeast Texas.

Higher education is crucial to keep people in the region, he said. Phelan said “gems” like the three two-year schools in Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange are keys to training people for well-paying careers.

He said tuition fees at state colleges and the Lamar Institute of Technology are 50% lower than they were three years ago, and trained graduates can start careers by paying $ 50,000 per year or more, especially with certificates or diplomas in marine related industries.

Another Event Center luncheon speaker said Texas real estate has weathered the pandemic under very good conditions, as seen in rising property values.

Ted Jones, chief economist and senior vice president of Stewart Title Guaranty Co., said the Beaumont area has seen more than 4,000 homes sold in the past 12 months – more than any comparable year.

“You don’t buy a house if you don’t think there’s a future,” Jones said.

On the negative side, he said the state’s method of funding public education primarily through property taxes and corporate franchise taxes makes Texas the 14th best place to do business in the country.

However, demand for refined products is expected to support the recovery of the state and, by extension, the economy of Southeast Texas.

Charlie Cooper, Managing Director of Americom Marketing, produced a video titled “It’s On, Southeast Texas,” with ExxonMobil, which focused on workforce training and echoed familiar notes from the petrochemical base. of the region, health care training with almost “100% placement” after associate training with many opportunities for graduate degrees and public security academies.

“We have world-class training in a growth-friendly business market,” Cooper said.

Speakers noted that Monday was the 121st birthday of Lucas Gusher in Spindletop who gave the region its economic base.

Jones said the main takeaways for 2022 will be higher home values, the acceleration of existing trends such as the move of people to Texas and the continued recovery in jobs.

He said alternatives to renewables were decades away and “downstream” petrochemicals – refined products – were in demand.

“We will need the endorsement in particular,” he said.

Dan Wallach is a

freelance writer.


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