AQUA BOOK 2014 II - Page 2

Introduction Our inaugural issue of the Aqua Book provided an overview of the economic conditions in South Texas and its local communities. Most data that we presented support the common perception that our region is experiencing an economic boom in association with the surging oil and gas drilling activity in the Eagle Ford Shale formation. Despite much progress in recent years, our regional economy still trails the rest of the nation in terms of income levels and other measures of the overall quality of life. There is no better time than now for us to take on this challenge of uncovering major soft spots in the Coastal Bend economy along with its strengths. In this issue, we look under the hood of the economic engine for the region and explore opportunities for future economic growth. Our focus is the performance of both large and small businesses across the region. We first outline trends in business ownership as well as changes among industries. We also provide a profile of the region’s consumer market and identify market potentials for business development. Given our focus on the private sector, the public sector, including government agencies and public education institutions, are left out, even though these entities also play a vital role in our regional economy. We hope this data-driven publication will provide insights for entrepreneurs, developers and community leaders alike in their efforts of making our community a better place to live. As always, we appreciate your readership and support. Jim Lee