Texas Rising

Local Government
Tools that Made
the Difference

Amarillo

Amarillo’s Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is developing Amarillo CenterPort, a 340-acre rail-served industrial park ideally suited for distribution-oriented businesses, says Richard “Buzz” David, president and CEO of Amarillo EDC.

“This is a transportation logistics park,” David says. “There are companies that move a lot of goods in and out, and we’re trying to take advantage of our location on the Ports-to-Plains Corridor.”

The park offers:

  • direct service by two Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail lines. Rail service by Union Pacific is also available;
  • foreign trade zone;
  • freeport status exempts inventory from property taxes.

For more information, contact the Amarillo EDC at (800) 333-7892.

Local Government
Tools that Made
the Difference

Dalhart

Transportation infrastructure plays a critical role for smaller communities and can be a driving force in their economic development efforts. Kristine Olsen, president of the Dalhart Area Chamber of Commerce, has the following advice for cities in their transportation efforts:

  • post signage along highways; and
  • support and promote transportation projects that generate increased traffic and economic opportunities for your community.

“It’s important that you’re involved in transportation,” Olsen says. “You’re investing in the future and longevity of your community.”

For information on how to get involved with your area’s transportation planning, contact the Comptroller’s Local Government Assistance and Economic Development Division at (800) 531-5441, ext. 3-4679.

New Corridor Boosts Business for Texas Towns

Project Expands Economic Development for West Texas

by Karen Hudgins

Mile by mile, a planned multimodal corridor is snaking its way through Texas, offering economic development boosts for cities along the path and expanding trade opportunities with Canada, Mexico and other states.

Designated by Congress as a high-priority corridor, the 1,400-mile Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor extends from the U.S./Mexico border at Laredo through West Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma and ultimately into Canada and the Pacific Northwest. The route follows existing highways, including U.S. Highway 83 from Laredo, U.S. Highway 277 through Eagle Pass and Interstate 27 to Amarillo, where it becomes U.S. 287/87.

“It opens up a tremendous opportunity for expanding trade and a more efficient route from Texas up to the Pacific Northwest, which will help alleviate some of the traffic on Interstate 35,” says Michael Reeves, president of the Lubbock-based Ports-to-Plains Corridor Coalition. “By creating the infrastructure, it helps you to attract companies and jobs to the regions out here.”

Economic Boon

According to a corridor development plan, the route will create about 40,000 new jobs with an economic impact of $4.5 billion. New warehouses and distribution centers along the corridor to support the increased truck traffic will boost employment opportunities, says Sid Cauthorn, chairman of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Coalition.

A 2007 study by Cambridge Systematics for the Texas Department of Transportation reports that improvements to highways, rail and electric transmission lines along the corridor will improve transport for the cotton, ethanol and wind-generated electricity industries.

About half of the corridor’s mileage has been upgraded to four- or six-lane divided highways or is in the design or construction phase, says Reeves. The project is estimated at $2.8 billion.

The “ports” part of Ports-to-Plains refers not to seaports but to the three international ports of entry to the U.S. connecting to the corridor, including international bridges in Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Laredo, says Cauthorn.

Dumas and Dalhart

Located on U.S. Highway 87 in northwest Texas, Dalhart is poised to benefit from Ports-to-Plains access. In 2007, Hilmar Cheese Co. started operations at its Dalhart plant, which will produce about 500,000 pounds of cheese daily and employ 120 workers. Trucks will ship cheese from the plant to Amarillo for packaging via the Ports-to-Plains corridor.

Hilmar Cheese Co. cites “excellent local infrastructure, including ground and rail transportation” as one reason for selecting Dalhart for its plant.

The town of Dumas straddles the Ports-to-Plains Corridor on U.S. Highway 287.

“With more funds invested in improvements to the corridor highways, we could benefit from increased employment opportunities in manufacturing and retail services,” says Kari Campbell, interim executive director of the Dumas Economic Development Corp (EDC). “New warehousing, distribution and transportation industries could also develop in communities along the corridor. We also expect to see more sales of fuel and food, as well as increased lodging revenues from travelers and additional truck traffic.” Funding for Ports-to-Plains has come from the federal, state and local levels in phased amounts.

Multimodal Approach in Lubbock

Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport’s Interport Trade Center is a major intermodal site offering direct access to the region’s highway, rail and transportation systems, including the Ports-to-Plains route.

For more information on the Interport Trade Center, call (806) 775-2035.

“We are working incrementally on the project so that any improvement on any piece of the corridor is of benefit to the entire corridor,” says Richard “Buzz” David, president and CEO of the Amarillo EDC.

For help and resources to obtain funding for transportation planning, contact the Comptroller’s Local Government Assistance and Economic Development Division at (800) 531-5441, ext. 3-4679, or visit www.window.state.tx.us/lga/. TR