AQUA BOOK 2014 II - Page 12

llllllllllll llllllllllll Geographical Factors Because of the observed low economic diversity for some rural counties in the Coastal Bend, workers, firms and consumers in those counties may depend on employment, shopping and other opportunities outside those counties. Workers’ commuting patterns provide some insight to how counties within the Coastal Bend interact. The accompanying map shows the net commuting flows across the 12 Coastal Bend counties. Nueces County, which has the highest industry and occupation diversity, has the most net inflow of commuters. Nueces County provides a substantial amount of employment for its neighboring counties, particularly Aransas and San Patricio within the same metro area. About one in four residents in these two counties commute to another county for work. DIVERSITY AND SPECIALIZATION Community Interactions Historically, Corpus Christi has suffered a geographical disadvantage for not being en route to other major cities. With the emergence of the Eagle Ford Shale as the nation’s major oil production region, that geographical factor has become less relevant. The Eagle Ford formation is just 70 miles north of the metro area. Through trucks and pipelines, Eagle Ford oil and gas are being transported to its deepwater port for processing and shipments to other parts of the United States. The Port of Corpus Christi has also become the gateway for exports, particularly in oil and gas products, in addition to the historical reliance on import traffic. The Port’s outbound shipments of crude oil surpassed its inbound shipments for the first time by mid-2013. The logistical advantage of the deepwater port has also made Corpus Christi an attractive location for developing heavy manufacturing plants and petrochemical facilities. Commute Time The traffic condition of the Corpus Christi metro area is one of the region’s competitive advantages. Its average travel time to work is less than 21.5 minutes, compared to 28.6 minutes for Houston. According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the annual congestion cost per auto commuter in Corpus Christi is less than $300, the second lowest among all U.S. metro areas. For businesses, the average “value” that is lost due to traffic congestion is close to $90 per hour. The relatively low level of congestion in Corpus Christi translates into substantial commercial cost savings in comparison with other metro areas like Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Because the majority of Coastal Bend businesses are located in Nueces County, the commute time is relatively longer for other counties with relatively more of their residents driving out of their home counties for work. In comparison with 19.4 minutes for Nueces County, the average driving time to work is 20.5 minutes for Aransas County and 22.2 minutes for San Patricio County. The driving time to work is even higher for non-metro counties: about 24 minutes for Bee and Jim Wells counties. Net Commuting Flows McMullen 117 Bee -836 Refugio -457 Live Oak -656 San Patricio -4,403 Aransas -1,923 Cost Competitiveness Corpus Christi boasts an affordable cost of living, with the latest ACCRA index at 92, compared to U.S. average of 100. Similarly, an overall relatively low cost of doing business is often cited as a competitive advantage of the region. According to Moody’s Analytics, the index for Corpus Christi’s cost of doing business is 92.7, noticeably lower than the U.S. benchmark of 100. This reading places Corpus Christi at the bottom third among all 381 U.S. metro areas. Along with relatively low labor and land costs, state and local taxes contribute much to the relatively low business costs. Local businesses, on the other hand, face relatively high energy costs, partly due to greater electricity consumption. The overall relatively low cost of doing business in South Texas is advantageous for promoting long-term economic growth. Overall Business Cost of Corpus Christi MSA Jim Wells -889 Duval 712 The subtropical climate of the Coastal Bend is another factor that affects the region’s competitive position. As opposed to the northern region of the nation, shale oil and gas extraction and construction activities have flourished more in South Texas due in part to the advantage of lacking severe winter weather that often halts production and transportation. On the other hand, the region’s location along the Gulf of Mexico makes it vulnerable to the risk of hurricanes, which potentially affect its capital layout and infrastructure. Nueces 8,277 Source: Regional Economic Applications Laboratory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 10 Review of South Texas Business Conditions 243 96.3 286 149.5 38 –State & Local Tax Kened B