CORPUS CHRISTI — The Eagle Ford Shale economic boom has done more for Corpus Christi than providing tax dollars and jobs during a time when exploration and drilling jobs seemingly appeared daily. It’s set the region up for years of economic success by offering low-cost natural gas to industrial giants worldwide, experts told a Rotary Club luncheon Thursday.
Three entities represented on an economic panel each said Corpus Christi can expect good things out of the economy next year — and for the foreseeable future.
“Corpus Christi and our regional (population) will continue to increase because we’ve attracted companies that are not dependent on (oil) drilling,” said John Plotnik, the executive vice president of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corp. “I predict that in 10 years, we’ll be the size of San Antonio today.”
Corpus Christi’s population is about 317,000 and San Antonio’s is about 1.4 million, according to the most recent census data available. Plotnik said after the meeting that he meant the metro-area population, which he said is about 650,000, would reach around 1.4 million within the next decade.
“We have to be thinking not for next year, but for the next 20 years,” Plotnik said.
He went on to say he expects an industry surrounding unmanned aerial aircraft to be the next big thing for the Sparkling City by the Sea.
While industry is growing here, representatives from the Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau said the region is also experiencing a large upswing. Just last year, the city sold out of all available hotel rooms for the Fourth of July weekend for the first time in history, and the local Día de los Muertos event was the fourth largest in the nation. The bureau’s tourism goal for 2015 is 9 million visitors, which is about 500,000 more than the city saw in 2014.
Ashley Higson, speaking for the visitors bureau, said the plan is to announce a major tourist attraction later this month.
The announcement will “alter the landscape of tourism in Corpus Christi in a really positive way,” Higson said.
Local real estate guru Matthew Cravey, president of Cravey Real Estate Services Inc., said Corpus Christi residents shouldn’t think they’ve missed their only chance at wholesale dealer Costco coming to town.
He said there’s a chance the retail giant and the city go back to the table when Costco’s annual budget-building timeline gets to new stores and expansion again. He added that the interested parties — the city, land owners and Costco — all took a hard-line approach that didn’t facilitate a deal.
“Historically, the city has not bent over backward to help retail,” Cravey said, after saying the city did just that for Schlitterbahn on Padre Island.
Reached while driving to Austin on Monday, Mayor Nelda Martinez said one consideration during the Costco discussions was “incentivizing a like-type business with a competitor (Sam’s Club) already existing here.”
“The city is extremely friendly toward retail,” Martinez said. “And we’ve expanded our tax base and totally surpassed expectations we had.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified who put on the luncheon. It was the Rotary Club of Corpus Christi.
This article was written by Matt Woolbright from Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.