- Commissioners in San Patricio County, Texas, took the first step last week in securing a $1.8 billion Steel Dynamics mill for the Corpus Christi area by voting unanimously to create a reinvestment zone that includes the approximately 2,500-acre piece of land on which the company would build the plant, according to The Corpus Christi Caller Times.
- Texas is one of several states in the running for the electric-arc-furnace flat roll steel mill, which could create an economic benefit of $2.8 billion for the state during construction. The plant would produce up to 3 million tons of steel each year and supply the southern U.S. and Mexican flat roll steel markets.
- Creation of the reinvestment zone was necessary in order for the county to be able to strike a potential future deal with Steel Dynamics for economic incentives such as tax abatements. Depending on the company's decision, construction could start next year, with the mill moving into production as early as 2021.
State and local governments are typically willing to compete for projects like the Steel Dynamics mill because not only do they provide manufacturing jobs for residents, but they also stimulate the economy during construction.
One thing San Patricio County has going for it is its proximity to one of Steel Dynamics’ suppliers, Voestalpine in Portland, Texas, where the company operates a $1.3 billion hot-briquette iron plant, according to The San Antonio Express-News. Other steel industry businesses that have contributed to about $50 billion of industrial investment in the area during the last 10 years are a $1 billion steel pipe rolling facility owned by Chinese company TEDA TPCO America Corp. and a $35 million Tex-Isle steel pipe plant.
The Corpus Christi area is also home to a future ethane steam cracker plant that will cost up to $10 billion to get running, owned by ExxonMobil and SABIC through their company Gulf Coast Growth Ventures. Wood, based in the United Kingdom, is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project, which is expected to create 6,000 construction jobs. That project, however, which is still in the midst of the permitting and regulatory approval process, has come under fire from environmentalists who argue that construction will damage the fishing and tourist industries.
While energy and petrochemical projects drive industrial construction in the Gulf Coast region of the U.S., e-commerce continues to play a big role in that sector throughout the country as internet retailers beef up their fulfillment businesses. Since 2012, the U.S. has seen the completion of 1.6 billion square feet of new industrial space. As of November 2018, according to Avison Young Chicago, there was an additional 337 million square feet of industrial space under construction.