Texas Rising

Sugar Land Tastes Sweet Success

by Suzanne Staton

Sugar Land was established in the 1800s on one industry — sugar. Sugar is still part of the city’s economy, but in the 21st century, Sugar Land enjoys a more diversified and vibrant economy.

Sweet Spots

  • In 2006, CNN/Money magazine named Sugar Land the third-best place in the country to live.
  • Texas Business Magazine named Sugar Land one of the best-run cities in the state in 1995.
  • In 2007, for the fourth year in a row, the Texas Round-Up Governor’s Challenge named Sugar Land the “Fittest City in Texas” in its population range.
  • The city was ranked second in the nation for future job growth (2005-2010) by the book Best Places to Raise a Family and Top 100 Most Affordable Communities.
  • Texas Business Magazine also named Sugar Land “Second Best in Texas for Business Relocation and Expansion” in 1995.
  • Aviation International News in 2007 named Sugar Land Regional Airport one of the best “Fixed Base Operations” in the U.S., Canada and South America.

Local Government Tools that Made the Difference

for Sugar Land

The Sugar Land Economic Development program is big on business, assisting corporate decision makers by providing information and data on incentive packages, real estate and city services. The city, Fort Bend County and other taxing districts offer the following incentives for businesses:

  • economic development grants/loans;
  • freeport exemptions;
  • property tax abatements; and
  • tax increment financing.

For more information on state and local economic development programs, including tax abatements and freeport exemptions, please visit the Comptroller’s 2006 report Tax-Related State and Local Economic Development Programs or call the Comptroller’s Property Tax Division at (800) 252-9121 or direct in Austin at 305-9999.

Since 1993, the city has invested more than $90 million in economic development projects. The projects are mainly funded through the city’s Section 4A and Section 4B economic development sales tax corporations. Since 2000, those initiatives have created more than 2,800 new jobs and led to more than $350 million in capital investment.

Business boom

Companies expanding, relocating or that announced plans to relocate to the Sugar Land Business Park in 2006 include MECO, which designs high-tech water purification plants; Bechtel Equipment Operations, an engineering, construction and project management company; Tramontina USA, a Brazilian cookware manu­facturer; Advance Polybag Texas, which designs and prints custom plastic bags; and Finger Furniture Co.’s corporate headquarters and distribution facility. The 2006 projects will create more than $125 million in new capital investment.

In 2007, Irving-based engineering and construction company Fluor Corp. signed a lease for 191,000 square feet of new office space in Sugar Land and plans to hire 800-1,000 employees. Fluor Corp. already occupies 1 million square feet at its Sugar Land operations center.

The city’s economic development investment has paid off in several ways. Sugar Land, located 26 miles southwest of downtown Houston, experienced job growth of more than 30 percent from 2000 to 2005, an increase in property values of 9.5 percent from 2004 to 2005, and a decrease in ad valorem tax rates of 39 percent since 1993.

Enhancing economic development

Additional Sugar Land projects include the development of the award-winning Sugar Land Town Square, continued expansion of the 250-acre University of Houston’s Sugar Land Campus and growth of the Sugar Land Regional Airport. (SLRA). The SLRA is the fourth largest aviation facility in the greater Houston region and is widely recognized as a leading corporate airport of choice.

For more information on Sugar Land’s strategies for success, visit the city’s economic development program at www.sugarlandecodev.com or call
(281) 275-2229.