Read about Fort Bend County, TX's transportation system, which includes integrated railroads and proximity to deepwater ports.
Communities in Fort Bend County are moving full speed ahead with plans to attract more distribution and logistics companies to the region – for good reason. Fort Bend County, located in the rapidly growing Houston metropolitan area, offers an integrated transportation system that includes access to Class I rail and proximity to deepwater ports and two major airports – George Bush Intercontinental and Houston Hobby.
Sugar Land Regional Airport is a corporate jet and general aviation facility that handles 90,000 aircraft operations a year. The airport, owned by the City of Sugar Land, features an 8,000-foot concrete runway that can handle the largest class of business jets, an instrument landing system, a 20,000-square-foot terminal and on-site U.S. Customs services. The airport is used by more than 100 Fortune 500 companies on a regular basis. Its full-time fixed-base operator (FBO), Global Select, was ranked one of the top 10 FBOs in the nation by publication Aviation International News in 2014. Fort Bend County is in a prime location, with Interstate 10, I-69, U.S. Highway 90A and State Highways 6 and 36 among the network of major roads.
Highway access and proximity to Houston are why several distribution companies have located in Fort Bend County in recent years, including United Parcel Service in Stafford, Tramontina in Sugar Land, and Ben E. Keith in Missouri City. The German-based supermarket giant Aldi will open a 650,000-square-foot distribution center and division headquarters in Rosenberg in 2016, and there is strong interest for other distribution development, says Randall Malik, economic development director for the City of Rosenberg.
“Our city and all of Fort Bend County have a business-friendly environment, and companies are noticing this part of Texas more and more,” he says. Benefiting from I-69 Now under development, I-69, known as the NAFTA Highway, will link Canada to Mexico and Latin American markets crossing through a wide swath of Texas. In Fort Bend County, it generally follows the U.S. Highway 59 before it crosses into Harris County. In Rosenberg, the I-69 project will include four lanes north and southbound, with improved, continuous frontage roads. “We are fortunate that the I-69 expansion project is occurring through Rosenberg, ultimately resulting in an improved interstate infrastructure that will accommodate increasing development and growth in our community,” said Mailk.
“Rosenberg will garner big benefits as more and more commercial properties fronting I-69 open up for development as the interstate improvements are completed.” Malik points out another project – improvements to State Highway 36 – will also help the region.
Upgrades to Highway 36 will eventually provide expedited access from Rosenberg to the Port of Freeport, a deepwater port on the Gulf of Mexico about an hour’s drive from Fort Bend County. Freeport, Malik says, “has the potential to become one of the largest ports in America. The port has recently attracted investment from Freeport LNG, Enterprise, and Tenaries. Combined, the three companies will have a capital investment of more than $16 billion.”
In Rosenberg, city officials have made preparations to accommodate more distribution development at two industrial parks situated very near the newly designated interstate. The 184-acre Rosenberg Business Park is scheduled to be completed in summer 2015. The deed restricted business park offers tracts ranging from 2.5 to 15 acres with easy access to I-69. The park is being developed by Fuller Realty. The 25-acre Walsh Road Industrial Park, at Walsh Road and Spur 529, is less than a quarter of a mile from I-69. The industrial park provides shovel-ready sites between 1 and 5 acres. The park is being developed by ICO Commercial. Stafford, which already hosts major operations for the likes of UPS and Tyco, is looking to add more distribution centers.
“We have great access to transportation modes, and our mayor often tells companies that it’s faster to get from Stafford to many places in Houston than if you were actually in Houston itself,” says Charles Russell, engineer and economic development coordinator for the City of Stafford. “We have significant transportation corridors including rail, I-69 and US 90A that provide for the safe and efficient movement of people, goods and services.” Stafford doesn’t levy a city property tax, so businesses and homeowners reap significant savings each year. In addition, businesses can take advantage of a property tax exemption, also known as the Freeport Tax Exemption, that applies savings to any inventory assembled in Stafford and then shipped out of Texas within a certain time period. “Street Level Investments is proposing to redevelop 192 acres of property along I-69 that is occupied by Texas Instruments,” Russell says.
“The tentative plans are for a $500 million multi-use development with outlets, retail, residential and light industrial.”