AQUA BOOK 2015 - Page 2

From the Editorial Team In September 2014, the Texas A&M University System approved the formation of the South Texas Economic Development Center. The overriding goal of the Center is to promote business and economic development in South Texas through dissemination of data resources and research studies to the public. This Aqua Book is our annual publication to this end. An understanding of the economic environment surrounding us is essential for effective public policy and sound business decisions. Oil prices have dropped by almost half since their peaks in mid-2014, raising economic uncertainty across Texas—the nation’s top oil producer. Against this background, we provide an overview of the local economies in South Texas during the recent shale oil boom. In addition to a summary of the economic impact of recent oil and gas drilling activity on local communities, we shed light on the regional economic outlook through a discussion of the extent of diversification as well as specialization among the metro areas in the region. We conclude our narrative with a description of a shifting economic paradigm in the Coastal Bend that is driven by the current development toward an industrial hub. In this edition, we have expanded our geographical coverage beyond the Coastal Bend, which is the focus of previous editions. Parts of the narrative are adapted from our recent research publications, such as Economic Pulse. Our work has also benefitted from the partnership with Workforce Solution of the Coastal Bend. I also wish to express my appreciation to our Center’s sponsors for their financial support. Thank you for your readership and support. Jim Lee Director South Texas Economic Development Center