AQUA BOOK 2016 - Page 2

From the Editorial Team South Texas is a region that is directly impacted by volatility in the energy price markets. That said, the most recent declines in oil prices have had, and will continue to have, a vastly different impact than when prices crashed in the 1980s. The world economy is slowing down, while businesses and households across the nation are facing a new cycle of interest rate hikes. How does our region hold up against such economic crosswinds? Will our local economy suffer a meltdown as it did in the 1980s? In this edition of the Aqua Book, we first review the recent shale oil cycle, particularly developments since its peak in mid-2014. We also compare the economic records of communities across South Texas, with a special focus on Corpus Christi. Texans are especially proud of their state. After visiting with numerous local business groups in the past year, I believe that the resilience of our regional and state economies to an imminent meltdown rests largely on the exceptionally strong confidence and positive attitude shared by Texas entrepreneurs. In addition to recent developments in the region, we provide an update on the emergence of the New Economic Paradigm, which promises to push the envelope of industrial development without compromising environmental quality. The dozen massive industrial construction projects underway near the Port of Corpus Christi are poised to play a key role in the region’s economic vitality going forward. The more recent trend towards economic diversification, and the amount of new industrial construction – with the large number of jobs created – have somewhat insulated the region from many of the adverse effects of the oil price decline. The final section takes a deeper look at factors that drive long-term economic development. Drawing on a host of ranking data, we present anecdotal evidence on our region’s competitiveness and quality of life in comparison with the rest of the nation. Hopefully those findings will help public officials and other decision makers better understand the strengths as well as weaknesses of this region. As always, I appreciate your readership and support of our research. Jim Lee Director South Texas Economic Development Center Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi