Monday, July 1, 2013

“Experts Say Bay Area Positioned for Continued Strong Growth”

(Reprinted from the Houston Chronicle/Ultimate Bay Area Newspaper)
(Written by Jason Seidel, May 28, 2013)

“In February, local business leaders told members of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership that the economy in the region was looking good. Just a quarter later, they say it looks even better. "We continue to beat expectations," said Bob Mitchell, the partnership's president. The percentage increase in tax revenues is in the double digits across the Bay Area.

"We continue to see good growth," he said.

A presentation by Robert Hodgin and John Murasko from the University of Houston Clear Lake's School of Business covered a 30-year retrospective (1980-2010) and an outlook for 2013 and beyond for the Bay Area. According to the report, employment in the Bay Area continues to be largely professional, service and sales oriented with 42 percent of local households having annual incomes of $75,000 or higher. Twenty-eight percent of households have an annual income of $100,000 or higher.

Population growth, from 1980 to 2010, has averaged 3.3 percent annually, from 277,305 to 567,740. Of that, 223,000 or 40 percent of the total population is Hispanic, up from 40,000 or 7 percent in 1980, the report said. The age profile for local residents has seen little change since 1990, and the Bay Area remains a relatively young community.

Trendmaker Homes, a Houston-based company, is working on a 370-acre development in Clear Lake called "The Reserve at Clear Lake City," with prices starting under $300,000 and tapering off around $1 million. In all, 700 homes are scheduled to be built in the development. "Clear Lake City hasn't had any new construction in a while. It's now entering something of a Renaissance period," said Will Holder, president of Trendmaker Homes.

Holder attributes the growth of the Bay Area to improvements made to local transportation, citing Beltway 8 and Interstate 45 specifically, as well as no state income tax and "lower regulations" compared to other states. "Texas is what America used to be," said Holder.

This has created high demand for the area's very limited quality lots.

Pinnacle Construction Industries Inc., another Houston based company, is also seeing an increase in business. One of the upcoming projects involves an exterior renovation of 400 W. Bay Area Blvd. "Business has been good," said Pinnacle owner Cody Owen. "We're seeing a lot of people who are able to do things now that weren't able to a couple of years ago."

This growth means good things for the Bay Area. According to Mitchell, the increase in revenue means more jobs as well as improvements to local schools. One foreseeable challenge that the Bay Area is facing is a decline of skilled laborers. As the current generation of construction workers, pipefitters, electricians and welders begins to retire, employers are left with an ever-shrinking pool of skilled blue-collar labor. "I see it being a problem in the next 10 to 15 years," said Owen. "Today's youth isn't interested. They are finding a lot easier ways to make money."

For the purpose of the presentation, the report focused on 13 BAHEP member cities within the Bay Area, including Clear Lake Shores, Dickinson, El Lago, Friendswood, Kemah, La Porte, League City, Nassau Bay, Pasadena, Seabrook, Taylor Lake Village, Webster and four ZIP codes inside the city of Houston (77034, 77058, 77059, 77062).

"Bay Area Houston has many positive forces that include a strong regional infrastructure in the health care, aerospace, specialty chemical, and maritime industry sectors," said Kathryn Cooper, communications manager of BAHEP. With these sectors being supported by young and educated professionals, the economic forecast for the Bay Area looks bright.

For a more in-depth look at the report provided to BAHEP, visit: www.bayareahouston.com

As Posted on Brockway Realty's Official Blog.