With the number of jobs and spinoffs of industries being created in Victoria through a couple of major developments in the last two years or so, Dale Fowler has every reason to smile these days.
Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., says he is witnessing an economic bustle unlike anything he has seen in his 12 years in the position. The strong signs are due primarily to recent expansion of Caterpillar’s Victoria facility and the development of Eagle Ford Shale (EFS) in south Texas. Both have spurred new jobs, additional support industries and the potential for a residential and commercial boom.
“This probably trumps anything in the past decade,” Fowler says of the impact from Caterpillar and EFS. “It’s a good time to be doing economic development in Texas and certainly in Victoria.”
Upswing for Labor
Caterpillar, the world’s leading manufacturer of construction, mining and industrial equipment and engines, opened its 1.1 million-square-foot hydraulic excavator facility in Victoria in the summer of 2012. It is expected to more than triple the current capacity of hydraulic excavators produced by the company in the United States.
The $200 million facility has already led to approximately 350 new jobs in Victoria, with at least another 400 expected by 2015.
Though Victoria is a little south of the EFS play, the city has still benefited from its economic impact. EFS, a booming resource for natural gas with depths between 4,000 and 14,000 feet, has brought hundreds of jobs and billions of dollars to the south Texas economy.
“We’re probably the largest of the seven cities along the Eagle Ford,” Fowler says, “so we have quite a few service companies locating here and a lot of the labor forces staying here."
Places to Stay
The growth from Caterpillar and EFS has already led to recent additions of three new hotels in Victoria. Hotel Western opened in June 2012, and a Homewood Suites by Hilton and a Hilton Garden Inn are to follow in 2013. An official with Homewood says the bulk of the hotel’s business should come from corporate and business travelers.
“We’ve sat down with companies to build a relationships,” says Noel Salinas, CEO of Castle Hospitality, a McAllen company that oversees Homewood Suites. “We want to be their corporate hotel.”
The new Homewood Suites will include a 1,300-square-foot meeting room with seating for up to 100, according to Salinas.
“There’s a lot of demand for hotel rooms and meeting space and not enough supply,” he says. “We expect that we’ll be very busy.”
Now that Caterpillar and EFS have boosted employment and construction in Victoria, Fowler says even more payoff is potentially on the horizon.
“We hope that in the near future there will be some commercial and residential developers looking at this area,” he says.
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