Why companies choose counties

What are large companies and site selection consultants looking for when they evaluating our Matagorda County communities? In our first look at this topic, we talked about the people or labor force of a community being the most important resource.

Today, let’s take a look at the significance of our local transportation network. I believe in general terms, this is the next most important factor on why one community is chosen over another for an economic development project.

We are very fortunate in Matagorda County to have a wide and extensive transportation network. I believe this is one of our county’s best assets. We have three state improved highways in the county in Hwys 35, 60 and 71. We have two shallow-draft ports with direct access to deep water ports on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICWW). We have two rail lines – BNSF and Union Pacific -- and we have two air ports, one fairly recently upgraded to regional status.

As we discussed last month, our people – our employees impact businesses success or failure most directly, but transportation access plays a close second. And transportation is a non-negotiable, you can’t get your product to market without a reliable network. Whether it is a farmer moving their harvest to market, or a manufacturer moving rail cars to be exported, access and cost of access can and usually does drive where a business chooses to locate.

The one thing we know for sure is that investment into our local transportation infrastructure is vital to recruiting and retaining the target companies and industries we seek. For instance, the City of Palacios completed a long-range plan and study that clarified that tourism was their targeted industry. This plays well to their strengths, especially when it comes to the transportation infrastructure they have in place. You see many years ago, a rail line ran through Palacios, for the benefit of the military, farmers and other commercial users. When the rail there was abandoned, it made it increasingly more difficult to attract certain commercial and industrial companies. However, the beautiful Port of Palacios, well- maintained Hwy 35, recreational marinas, and seawall walkway provide the perfect transportation infrastructure for their target industry of tourism.

As we continue to move forward, it will be increasingly important for our county to continue to invest in our impressive transportation infrastructure, to keep it well-maintained, to keep it growing to accommodate for increased demand and to keep seeking new resources for our Ports and Airports, especially.

As a reminder, we still have a few items left to cover on our check list of factors large companies and site selection consultants consider when they are evaluating our county. Of the following, we have covered 1, 2, 3 and 6:

1. Availability of skilled labor

2. Highway accessibility

3. Quality of place

4. Occupancy or construction costs

5. Available buildings/ property

6. Labor costs

7. Corporate tax rate

8. Proximity to major markets

9. State and local incentives

10. Energy availability and costs

Next month, we will look at a few more items on our list of factors that can either make or break an economic development project.

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