Published Sep 06, 2023 by Brina Morales
As Port Houston and the Houston Ship Channel continue to see growth, financial investments, innovation and community engagement will be essential to support that growth, according to Port Houston leaders. The Greater Houston Partnership's annual State of the Port event on Sept. 6 convened industry leaders and supporters as Port Houston leaders provided insight into the port's success and future.
“In 2022, Port Houston handled 33.5 million metric tons of containerized cargo and traded with over 220 countries, a testament to the role we play in connecting global trade and offers significant financial impact across our 12-county region and the state of Texas," said Katie Pryor, the Partnership's chief development officer and senior vice president of member engagement.
The Houston Ship Channel complex encompasses more than 200 public and private facilities, with Port Houston owning and operating eight public facilities along the 52-mile channel. Ric Campo, chairman of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority, delivered the keynote address, providing insight into the progress of Project 11 and the ship channel's economic impact on the region and the nation. According to a recent study conducted by Martin Associates, the Houston Ship Channel generated $439.2 billion in total economic value for the state, representing 18.6 percent of the state’s GDP and a $100 billion increase in economic value since 2018.
Project 11, the $1 billion project designed to keep the ship channel competitive by reducing congestion and increasing safety, reached a key milestone earlier this year when the first portion, Segment 1A, was completed. The 11-mile segment, which runs from Bolivar to Redfish, widens the channel to 700 feet. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2025 but still lacks federal funding.
"Project 11 is a classic example of a Texas 'can do' [attitude] and how we partner with everyone in this room to get things done," Campo said.
Port Houston is also investing $1.5 billion in landside investments, including the completion of Wharf 6 at the Bayport Container Terminal. During the panel discussion, Candice Armenoff, Port Houston's execution planning manager, also discussed how investment and innovation have transformed the port. "Things are moving more fluidly" as the port works with trucking companies to ensure they're using the latest technology that allows them to be more productive, safer and idle less.
Community engagement has also been a focus for the port. The entity has several programs that educate communities about the opportunities and improvements along the ship channel, including the Port Commission Community Advisory Council and Maritime Education Program.
"We are yours. We want you to be proud of your port," said Maria Aguirre, director of community relations for Port Houston. "There's really a bright future...and I'm really excited to be at the port and to be a part of it."
This summer, Port Houston also announced it's moving its headquarters to Houston's historic Fifth Ward. A move the port says reflects its commitment to its roots and driving economic growth for the surrounding community and region.