Port Houston talks trade, tariffs and trade zones at Katy Area EDC GA
Thursday, August 29, 2019
Members and guests gathered at Members Choice Credit Union corporate office on Tuesday, August 20 for the Katy Area Economic Development Council August General Assembly meeting. The meeting featured a presentation from Shane Williams of Port Houston and an economic development update from Katy Area EDC President/CEO Lance LaCour.
Shane Williams, Economic Development Director with Port Houston, provided an overview of activity at one of the world’s leading ports, Port Houston. According to Williams, the port continues to experience tremendous growth, particularly in the container sector with a sharp increase in volume since 2016. The increase in container-related traffic at the port is evident in the Katy area with the growth of the distribution facility sector currently taking place. When looking at import origins at the port, Asia accounts for roughly 40% with Northern Europe next at 20%. A majority of exports from the port originate in the Americas with the petroleum-chemical industry remaining a leading exporter.
During the presentation, Williams also touched on Foreign Trade Zone activity, which is conducted under the direction of the port. An FTZ allows companies to reduce or eliminate duties and tariffs until goods are shipped to other markets. No duty is ever paid on re-exporting merchandise and if the merchandise is sold domestically, no duty is paid until it leaves the zone. Williams noted Katy area businesses have access to FTZ benefits should they meet specific qualifications. He added those not utilizing the program may be leaving money on the table and working at a disadvantage compared to foreign companies. Katy Area EDC works closely with the port and local companies to promote the FTZ program.
Following the presentation about Port Houston, Katy Area EDC President/CEO discussed the link between several current and new business parks and the FTZ program. LaCour highlighted three projects ongoing along the Grand Parkway Corridor north of I-10 that have come together to seek FTZ status. These properties include Grand West Crossing (Eastgroup Properties), Clay 99 (Duke Realty) and Grand Parkway Industrial Park (Capital Real Estate), and account for over 200 acres. The properties plan to have spec building space in varying sizes from 400,000 SF down to 20,000 SF, with additional multi-building construction ongoing and planned. To learn more about each property, visit the Available Properties tool on the Katy Area EDC website.
“An abundance of development activity continues along Grand Parkway in the Katy area due to the vast amount of buildable land,” noted LaCour. “This portion of the Katy area will continue to remain a focus of our organization moving forward as we seek to further capitalize on its tremendous growth potential in the coming years.”
New members introduced at the meeting included See Tim Sell Property Group and The Mission Companies/Grand Corners at the Associate level.
Members recognized for renewal at the Board of Governors level included PBK, Caldwell Companies, Vista Equities Group and Sueba USA. Cimmaron MUD, Community Impact and Harris County ESD #48 renewed at the Strategic Partner level. Aristoi Classical Academy, Belvoir Real Estate Group, Caleb Insurance Group, The Betz Companies, Si Environmental, Core Group Resources, EMA Solutions Group, HampCo, Rotary Club of Katy, Katy Family YMCA, Listo Translating Services, Robert Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey PC, The Tiger Group and Times Square Entertainment were all recognized for renewal at the Associate level.