Skip to main content

Greater Houston Partnership Adds Wharton County to Service Region

Published Sep 03, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta

Wharton County

Wharton County joins the Partnership's coverage area, which includes the 9 counties of the MSA as well as Walker and San Jacinto

HOUSTON (September 3, 2020) – The Greater Houston Partnership’s Board of Directors has approved adding Wharton County to the business organization’s economic development footprint. Wharton becomes the 12th county covered by the Partnership, which is the Houston area’s designated economic development organization.

 The Partnership will work closely with leaders in Wharton County to identify, recruit, attract and retain investment, companies and jobs for the benefit of the people of the county and the greater Houston region.

“We are excited to add Wharton County to our service region and support the area’s economic development and growth,” said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. “I got to know Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath a few years ago and was impressed by his team and his personal enthusiasm for expanding economic opportunities in Wharton County by growing connections with the broader region. Wharton County offers new placement opportunities for certain types of economic development projects, particularly distribution and logistics projects, as well as those tied to supply chains in Mexico and projects that must be in an attainment area for NOx (ozone). We look forward to working with county leaders to leverage this partnership for the benefit of all in the Houston region.”

Located 60 miles southwest of Houston, Wharton County is a strategic location for projects tied to the US 59/I-69 Superhighway and the accessibility to freight rail service. 

“In recent years, Wharton County has facilitated critical infrastructure projects, as well as business expansions in the region,” said Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath. “By joining the Greater Houston Partnership’s service region, Wharton has the opportunity to leverage the business organization’s influence to accelerate the county’s economic development efforts. We look forward to working closely with the Partnership on driving our area’s growth.” 

The Partnership will work closely with the Wharton County Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the City Development Corporation of El Campo in their efforts to recruit, retain and expand new and existing businesses in the area.  

“Wharton is dedicated to growing our manufacturing and agricultural base,” says Joshua Owens, Executive Director of 
Wharton Economic Development Corporation. “Joining the Greater Houston Partnership will enhance our ability to attract the right mix of companies and entrepreneurs. The City of Wharton has invested in expanding our transportation network, enhancing critical infrastructure, opening land for greenfield development, and reinvesting in our historic downtown.”

Wharton County’s recent economic development wins include the 540-acre Southwest International Gateway Business Park, a rail-served warehouse park in El Campo developed by Stonemont Financial Group.  Kansas City Southern Railway is  expanding rail infrastructure to support the project. 

“El Campo is excited about joining the Greater Houston Partnership and the myriad of opportunities this relationship will offer our community and the broader Houston region as we work to attract companies to our area,” said Carolyn Gibson, Executive Director of the City Development Corporation of El Campo. “We are ideally situated for logistics as we sit at the intersection of Interstate 69 and State Highway 71, with outstanding shovel-ready land with both highway and Class One rail frontage. This relationship will be a win-win for all involved.”

As the state-designated regional economic development organization, the Greater Houston Partnership works closely with partners across the area to submit regional responses to RFP’s (requests for proposals) from domestic and international companies looking to relocate or expand their operations. A formal relationship facilitates and promotes increased interactions related to these projects.

The Partnership has already been working closely with Wharton County Junior College, which has a campus in Sugar Land, as part of the organization’s UpSkill Houston program. UpSkill Houston is an employer-led initiative to develop programs and practices critical to ensuring the region has the skilled workforce needed to drive a strong, diverse economy. 

Wharton County joins 11 other counties incorporated in the Partnership’s service region: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker and Waller counties.


Greater Houston Partnership
The Greater Houston Partnership works to make Houston one of the best places to live, work and build a business. As the economic development organization for the Houston region, the Partnership champions growth across 12 counties by bringing together business and civic-minded leaders who are dedicated to the area’s long-term success. Representing 1,100 member organizations and approximately one-fifth of the region’s workforce, the Partnership is the place business leaders come together to make an impact. Learn more at

A.J. Mistretta
Vice President, Communications         
(c) 504-450-3516 | 

Related News

Economic Development

First-of-Its-Kind Makerspace to Bring Corporate Names, Startups Under One Roof

Phase I is nearly complete on the East End Maker Hub, a 300,000-plus-square-foot industrial makerspace in Houston's East End that will house startups and the innovation arms of major corporations like Waste Management. The Hub, which will be equipped for prototyping, testing, small-batch manufacturing and more, will also house and support entrepreneurs, artists, crafters, innovators and legacy manufacturers who are looking to scale their businesses.  The first-of-its-kind project in Houston, and one of only a handful in the nation, has come to life through a partnership between TXRX Labs and Urban Partnerships Community Development Corporation (UPCDC). The project is focused on equitable innovation and bringing back Houston's East End as a manufacturing hub.   To hear more about the project, we spoke with Jaime Herrero, Executive Director of UPCDC.    Click to expand What is the East End Maker Hub and why is there a need for it in Houston? The East End Maker Hub is a 300,000-square-foot industrial makerspace and manufacturing center with flexible commercial leasing options for small business owners. As companies move to reduce overhead costs, our space offers Houston’s crafters, innovators, fabricators and manufacturers a physical environment geared toward their specific business needs at a price they can afford. Once completed, the industrial makerspace will be the first of its kind in Houston and one of the largest in Texas. A complete overhaul of a former Baker Hughes facility, the East End Maker Hub drew inspiration from projects like the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center and the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York, and 7800 Susquehanna in Pennsylvania. The Maker Hub will generate an estimated $153 million in annual economic impact and will help to reinvigorate small-batch manufacturing in the East end and further diversify Houston’s economy. How did the Maker Hub project come to fruition? Urban Partnerships Community Development Corporation (UPCDC), an experienced nonprofit developer, and TXRX Labs, a manufacturing and hardware innovation incubator, formed a joint venture, leveraging $1.25 million in equity to raise $37 million in capital through New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs), funding partners, the City of Houston, and the U.S. Economic Development Administration. UPCDC specializes in community wealth building projects and established the Maker Hub commercial development with the aim of generating employment opportunities and economic stimulation in Houston’s East End. Funding partner TXRX will be the anchor tenant at the new facility, located at 6501 Navigation Blvd. Houston, TX 77011. How has the history of the Second Ward shaped the East End Maker Hub’s mission? And how will the Hub work to amplify the culture of the East End?  The Maker Hub aims to harness the East End’s manufacturing reputation to create equitable economic impact and job growth in the area. The Second Ward’s immigrant and Latinx influences drive a major thread of our mission—ensuring access to production space for local business owners, particularly business owners of color. We’ve established several key partnerships with the East End District and Council Member Karla Cisneros to engage the neighborhood and ensure that the Hub’s programming is inclusive of the area’s diverse business community and public workforce.  Why is the East End a hotbed for small-batch making and manufacturing? The East End is a major manufacturing zone thanks, in large part, to the Port of Houston. The area’s numerous industrial properties support production and logistics companies in addition to shipping and procurement operations along the ship channel. The rail line is another option for cargo shipping needs.  Historically, the East End has supported businesses spanning a wide spectrum of industries, from a coffee manufacturing plant to concrete manufacturing and textile factories, and, more recently, small and midsize woodworking and fabrication shops. These companies benefit from physical spaces conducive to their production needs in a convenient location where they can easily receive supplies and fulfillment shipments. Additionally, the neighborhood’s vibrant art scene is a magnet for makers and artisans. The East End supports 30+ arts and culture organizations which showcase the wealth of creative talent in the area and help to preserve the community’s character.   Why are small businesses crucial to Houston’s economy? Nationally, small businesses are the leading source of job creation. In Houston, 97 percent of businesses have fewer than 100 employees and make up more than 50 percent of the city’s workforce. These small businesses can move quickly and adapt to a shifting market or change in industry and workforce demands. They can also more easily serve consumer needs—which is critical in times of economic downturn. The East End Maker Hub hopes to enhance this agility by offering startups and small businesses the ability to prototype, test, small-batch manufacture and mass produce, all under one roof.  How will the Maker Hub foster collaboration between corporate innovation teams and small businesses? Leasing space side-by-side, corporate innovation teams will connect with leading hardware innovation startups developing industry-altering products. Maker Hub tenants are part of the Hub Collective—a collaborative community that fosters grassroots innovation facilitated by local companies and supported by corporate resources. This tight-knit community of makers and manufacturers is plugged into the wider Houston startup ecosystem, thanks to the Maker Hub’s anchor tenant TXRX Labs and our relationships with Houston Exponential, The Ion, the Greater Houston Partnership and more. The goal of bringing corporate innovation teams, like Waste Management’s Research & Development division, to the Hub is to create new pathways for partnership for our tenants. Click to expand How will the East End Maker Hub create equitable economic growth in the Second Ward, and how will the local community be included in this growth? By offering sliding scale rent based on what small business owners can afford, the East End Maker Hub aims to increase access to production space for women and minority business owners specifically. Community outreach and involvement are a central part of this project and are a major focus of the Hub’s programming, which will include job training as well as gallery shows where crafting tenants will be invited to highlight their work.  Additionally, the Maker Hub will strengthen Houston’s East End by creating 400+ local jobs directly along with 200 induced jobs annually, providing the area with long-term employment, business and retail opportunities. Through partnerships, the Hub will also provide job training to 75 adult Houstonians and welcome over 500 young people for hands-on project-based learning annually. What are some of the Maker Hub’s top facility amenities? The Maker Hub offers several different options for creators, from white box studio space to innovation lab space to fabrication and manufacturing shop space. Our industrial amenities are a big draw for tenants and include features like 15-ft-wide hallways and 18-ft industrial height ceilings, nine semi-truck loading docks, seven shared exterior grade roll up doors, heavy electrical service and access to TXRX Labs’ innovation and manufacturing equipment and staff expertise.  What types of businesses belong at the Maker Hub? At their core, makers are creative problem solvers. This might look like making art to evoke a message or emotion, building furniture that fits a certain function or aesthetic, prototyping and testing a product or device, 3D printing, manufacturing and fabricating, welding, glassblowing, ceramics work—and so much more. The Maker Hub welcomes all crafters, innovators, fabricators and manufacturers in need of production space.  Visit for more information about leasing space at the East End Maker Hub, Houston’s industrial makerspace and manufacturing center.   
Read More
Economic Development

New Report: Houston Ranks No. 3 Among Global Cities of the Future

According to a new report released this week, Houston ranks among the world's top cities of the future for global business investment, human capital and lifestyle. Houston is third in the overall ranking of the new fDi Tier 2 Cities of the Future 2020/21, which takes a closer look at the non-capital cities with a population under eight million. The report is published by the fDi Intelligence division of the global news outlet Financial Times. Last year, Houston ranked No. 5 among American Cities alone.  The report attributes the ranking to Houston's position as a reputable talent hub, including being home to five global top 500 universities and over 30 international baccalaureate schools. This also contributed to Houston achieving third place in the Human Capital and Lifestyle category, which weighs local educational institutions' strength, life expectancy, access to healthcare, and the Social Progress Index. Houston also placed sixth in the Business Friendliness category due to its welcoming business environment. The report references the City's recorded 53 expansion or co-location projects between May 2015 and April 2020, representing more than a quarter of its total inward FDI and the second highest out of all locations analyzed. When it comes to economic growth potential, which looks at metrics such as GDP growth, credit rating, economic freedom, and labor productivity, Houston ranks 7th.  "Houston is a remarkable city, and we are proud to be recognized as one of the world's best cities for foreign direct investment. We are the energy capital of the world, alongside the largest medical center, the Port of Houston, two world-class airports, and a growing innovation ecosystem," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "Houston is also the most diverse city in the U.S. with one in four residents born abroad. The report is also a recognition of our work with community partners over the last five years to build a more livable city. We offer world-class education, art, and culture in addition to our standing as a global business leader." "This ranking is further evidence of Houston's place among the world's great global cities," said Susan Davenport, Chief Economic Development Officer for the Greater Houston Partnership. "Houston today competes at a higher level than ever before when it comes to foreign direct investment and our business ties to cities and countries around the world. "With superior global access, a business-friendly climate, exceptional quality of life and a highly educated workforce, Houston is well positioned to continue to build on that momentum in the years ahead."  Houston ranked No. 3 behind San Francisco and Montreal. Houston ranked ahead of other North American cities including Boston (No. 6), Seattle (No. 9), Austin (No. 11), Miami (No. 18), Dallas (No. 19) and Atlanta (No. 20). To create the rankings, fDi Intelligence collected data using the specialist online FDI tools – fDi Benchmark and fDi Markets as well as other sources. Data was collected for 116 locations, under five categories: Economic Potential, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Cost Effectiveness, Connectivity, and Business Friendliness.  Houston by the numbers:  •    $237 billion, the total value of trade that moved through the Houston region in 2019  •    1,700 Houston firms reporting foreign ownership  •    90 countries have official government representation, including consulates and trade offices, in Houston  •    8,200+ ship visits annually  •    No. 1 in waterborne tonnage in the U.S.  •    No. 1 Gulf Coast container port  •    $339 billion statewide economic impact from the Port of Houston  Click here to read the full report. 
Read More

Related Events

Economic Development

State of the Port

As the largest port in foreign tonnage in the nation, Port Houston is an economic engine supporting the Houston region, the state of Texas, and the nation. Join us as …

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners