Galveston’s economy has grown tremendously in the past few years and promises to set new records for 2005-2006. As stated in the Galveston Economic Development Partnership’s GEDP Construction Update, more than $1.7 billion in new investment is currently underway or planned for Galveston Island. This growth includes a diversity of industries including healthcare, life sciences/biotechnology, tourism/hospitality, offshore oil, maritime, services, retail, education, and government.
Currently, the largest employment sector here is the retail trade, employing nearly ten percent of the Galveston population. Manufacturing and finance/insurance vie for second place, each employing about four percent of locals. Professional services, the sciences and technology takes second place, with just over three percent of folks here working in that sector.
The tourism industry is growing with the addition of new hotels and the expansion/renovation of existing ones, the increased number of cruise ship passengers embarking/disembarking on Galveston Island; and continued redevelopment on the Seawall and in the historic Strand area. Catering to both the tourists and residents, new retail opportunities are occurring all over Galveston County.
The Port of Galveston has seen great success with the investment of over $35 million into the development of the cruise ship terminals. The Port of Galveston was ranked ninth in the United States and eighteenth in the world as a premier cruise port for Caribbean destinations. Currently, Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises all have ships based in Galveston. The Port of Galveston has also promoted industrial growth on the Island through an expansion of the Foreign Trade Zone by 251 acres, a public-private partnership with Agriliance, and a recently signed lease with BP who has proposed a LNG terminal on Pelican Island.
Galveston’s educational and government institutions are all in the process of expanding and/or renovating their facilities. The Galveston Independent School District passed a $69.45 million school bond in December 2003 for improvements on all the campuses. Galveston College and Texas A&M University have both recently expanded their campus facilities. Galveston County is currently building a $105 million Criminal Justice Center on North Broadway that will serve as a base for over 500 County employees. The City’s Scholes International Airport has plans to construct a traffic control tower to accommodate the dramatic increase in air traffic (from 60,000 to 104,000 operations in landing and takeoffs.)
Galveston has many economic opportunities for its businesses and residents. For more information on the Galveston economy or to discover the potential for your business growth, please contact the Galveston Economic Development Partnership at (409) 770-0216.
The major employers of Galveston County:
University of Texas Medical Branch
American National Insurance Company
Galveston Independent School District
City of Galveston
County of Galveston
Texas A&M University at Galveston
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers