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Houston Continues to Grow as a World-Class Manufacturing Powerhouse

Published May 22, 2024 by Taylor Tatum

The skilled workforce in the advanced manufacturing sector includes more than 230,000 industrial workers in specialties such as fabricated metal, machinery and chemical manufacturing.

Home to multiple deepwater ports, two international airports with over 180 non-stop destinations, and a diverse, highly educated workforce, Houston is a manufacturing and logistics powerhouse with an eye focused on the future. 

As the base of operations for the international oil and gas exploration and production industry, as well as a number of the nation’s largest international engineering and construction firms, Houston has cemented its place as an important hub for an increasingly global economy. With over 7,000 manufacturing establishments and strategic advantages in chemical and machinery manufacturing and petroleum refining, accounting for over 44 percent of the nation’s overall petrochemicals manufacturing capacity, the Houston region offers unparalleled energy expertise and a talented workforce with transferable skills. 

According to BDO’s 2024 Manufacturing CFO Outlook Survey, 89 percent of manufacturing CFOs plan to expand their U.S. operations this year, providing many opportunities for Houston as the No. 2 U.S. metropolitan area for manufacturing GDP and the No. 3 global competitive city in machinery and equipment. 

Earlier this month, two Dallas-area companies, Eagle Materials Inc. and Heidelberg Materials North America, announced their plans to open a joint cement facility in Houston. Once fully operational, the Texas Lehigh Cement Company facility will have a manufacturing capacity of 500,000 tons per year. 

According to a recent HBJ article, international cement companies have been looking at Texas, and Houston in particular, for possible expansion opportunities. In November 2023, CRH PLC, an Irish building materials manufacturer, announced its plans to expand its footprint in Texas, including three cement plants and terminals in the Houston area. 

Earlier this year, Houston startup success story NanoTech Materials opened its 43,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and headquarters in the Katy area. Meanwhile, solar manufacturer EnGoPlanet recently announced its plans to open an assembly plant near George Bush Intercontinental Airport. According to President and COO Kirk Wehby, “We feel like there’s a strong workforce [in Houston] that will allow us to grow and continue what we do. The facilities here also best utilize our capabilities. Our plan is to be central to our suppliers that will do coding, lighting [and] to be close to the airport and the port. Houston is a home run.” 


Employing over 225,000 workers in 2022, manufacturing plays a critical role in Houston’s economy. Having set records for employment growth in 2021 and 2022, industry leaders and educational institutions are continuing to partner together in developing the region’s future workforce. 

According to a regional workforce study conducted by the Partnership in 2020, Houston has an above-average and growing demand for middle-skill workers. To address these skills gaps, an increasing number of public-private partnerships have launched to strengthen Houston’s talent pipeline and bolster the workforce readiness of high school and college graduates in the region. 

TXRX Labs, a non-profit makerspace in Houston’s East End, received a two-year grant from JPMorgan earlier this year to launch two advanced training programs in electronic assembly and welding fabrication. The grant comes as part of Houston’s Resiliency Workforce Collaborative, an initiative launched in December 2022 that helps increase career opportunities for Houston residents, particularly from underserved and under-resourced communities. According to the Houston Chronicle, the collaborative is on track to train 6,600 people and place over 1,400 in high-demand jobs by 2025. 

Logistics & Distribution 

In the last decade, Houston has emerged as an important logistics center, with developers adding over 83 million square feet of warehouse space since 2020. The region has also experienced a significant increase in the construction of large-scale industrial properties to accommodate the growth of national fulfillment and regional distribution centers, including Amazon, FedEx, McKesson, Sysco and UPS. 

Home to four deepwater seaports including the Port of Houston, the nation’s No. 1 port for foreign waterborne tonnage, the region is one of the most significant transportation and distribution hubs in the nation, providing companies with exceptional access to global markets. Port Houston handled 578 million metric tons of cargo between January 2021 and January 2024 according to the Partnership’s 2024 Global Houston publication. 

The region’s two international airports – William P. Hobby (HOU) and George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) - also serve as an important international gateway for passengers and air freight, with the Houston Airport System (HAS) serving over 54 million passengers and handling nearly 553,000 metric tons of freight in 2022. 

Additionally, as the crossroads of major highways including I-45, I-10 and I-69, Houston’s extensive freeway and highway infrastructure contributes to minimizing transportation and distribution costs for companies of all sizes. 

Learn more about the advantages of Houston as a world-class manufacturing, logistics and distribution hub.

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