CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Port of Corpus Christi -- maybe you drive past it or see it from the top of the Harbor Bridge from time to time.
Did you know our port ranks first in the nation for crude oil exports?
Think about this: Most of the stuff you, me -- we -- buy, comes from products moved through our port, which also operates as a business.
It generates its own revenue, so the money the port spends is money it's earned.
"Steel Dynamics is investing heavily in Sinton to make a quality steel product. They're going to be using some of Voestalpine's product that they produce. We know that Tesla is coming to Texas and building a plant outside of Austin. They're going to need steel products to produce their products. And so we now expect that some of Tesla's suppliers will be coming to the region utilizing the Steel Dynamics product to then make some of the parts in the Tesla manufacturing.
And since the Port's CEO Sean Strawbridge took over six years ago, the Port of Corpus Christi has grown tremendously. And it's on track to keep growing.
"I think our outlook is absolutely positive," he said. "2020 was -- in spite of the pandemic, in spite of the active hurricane season, in spite of some unfortunate incidents that we saw that it resulted in a serious loss of life and serious injury -- we had a record year, and that shows the economic resiliency that has been created by the significant investment by both private sector industry and government like the Port of Corpus Christi," said Strawbridge.
Strawbridge calls 2021 a 'pause year,' seeing as how the port has seen a slight decrease in the year's first quarter. He said the development isn't a surprising one, and isn't discouraged by it.
"The fact that we're only down single-digit percentages, I think, shows that we've really probably plateaued here, but we certainly think that there is opportunity for more growth in our future," he said. "And I'm very optimistic about our future."
So what does that future look like? And what about other opportunities besides oil and gas that can diversify the region?
"Well, I'll give you good example," he said. "Steel Dynamics is investing heavily in Sinton to make a quality steel product. They're going to be using some of Voestalpine's product. We know that Tesla is coming to Texas and building a plant outside of Austin. They're going to need steel products to produce their products. And so we now expect that some of Tesla's suppliers will be coming to the region, utilizing the Steel Dynamics product to then make some of the parts in the Tesla manufacturing. So you see how that investment begets investment."
Strawbridge said he sees ripple effects such as this one as benefiting the Coastal Bend, especially with the ever-present desire for products sold in the United States -- such as medicines and other consumables -- to also be made here.
"Sixty-five percent of all goods imported into this country come from China. . . . and I think that the American consumer is even willing to pay a little more for a product that they know is manufactured in the United States with great American people, under the American laws that we enjoy and the in the court system that we enjoy," he said. "So I think that Corpus Christi is really positioned well for that next phase in our growth trajectory."