Skip to main content

Port Houston Chair Renews Call for Widening, Deepening of Ship Channel

Published Nov 21, 2019 by Maggie Martin

State of the Port

Port Houston Chairman Ric Campo laid out his case for why the Houston region must invest in expanding the Houston Ship Channel in front of an audience of nearly 400 business leaders, industry stakeholders and elected officials. Campo delivered his keynote in his first-ever State of the Port address hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership on November 20. 

Campo began with a quick overview of the history of Ship Channel, and explained that the concept of widening and deepening the channel isn't new. In the early 1910's, the private sector and federal government each put forward millions in funds to dredge the Ship Channel. Now, said Campo, he's making a similar request.

"Today, I stand on the shoulders of giants, 10 months into my career as Chair of the Port of Houston Authority," he said. "There's a lot of great things happening going forward."

The Port of Houston has been a key economic driver for the Houston region for more than a century and Houston's economic growth is driven in large part by its ability to transport goods in and out of the region. More than 17% of Houston's gross domestic product (GDP) is tied to exports. About 20% of the Lone Star state's GDP is generated through the Port of Houston. Last year, trade through the Port of Houston had nearly $340 billion in direct state economic impact and represents more than 70% of all maritime trade in Texas. 

But in order to ensure our economy continues to benefit from the global marketplace, explained Campo, the Houston region must have adequate port and maritime infrastructure to keep pace with growing domestic energy production, petrochemical manufacturing and exports. Trade volume is also increasing and ships are getting wider. 

"It's all about public-private partnerships. It's all about a race against economic forces," said the Port Houston chairman. 

Campo said the region could have a wider and deeper channel by 2030 if the agency goes through the typical federal government process, but the need is more urgent. "We have to create a mechanism to get it done quicker," urged Campo. 

Port Houston has argued it can complete the expansion project by 2024, but in order to do so, dredging must begin by 2021. The organization has called for its partners and other local leaders to ask members of Congress to authorize the project. 

"Ric assumed chairmanship of Port Houston earlier this year and now, more than ever, his leadership is vital at this critical moment," said Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. "We must invest in widening and deepening the Houston Ship Channel in order to maintain Houston's position as a key global trade corridor. The project isn't without its challenges, but the reality we are facing requires that we take action in order to secure the Houston region's economic future."

"This port was conquered by those who moved forward," said Campo. And now, he said, it's time to do so again. 

For more on the Houston Ship Channel expansion project, click here. Learn more about the Port of Houston's trade highlights in the Partnership's 2019 Global Houston report. Learn more about the region's transportation and logistics here.


Related News


Houston Business Barometer Week 14: Companies' Short-Term Outlook Dims

The short-term outlook among local companies has worsened in recent weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases has increased, and reopening efforts have been put on pause.  Nearly 30% of companies responding to the Partnership’s latest Business Barometer Survey say their outlook is worse this week than it was last week. Just 11% say their outlook is better this week compared with a week ago. Most (80%) of the companies that said their outlook is worse are small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Nearly 60% say their outlook is the same.  About 35% of respondents said their revenues have declined since their last billing cycle, up from 26% who reported such a decline a month ago. Sixteen percent said their revenues have increased since the last billing cycle, down from 22% who reported such an increase in June.  Nearly 34% of responding companies say their operations have been severely impacted by the pandemic while another 29% report a moderate impact on operations. Those figures remain unchanged from June.  Amid an increase in new COVID-19 cases across Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said on June 25 he was pausing reopening efforts statewide. He also closed down bars and nightclubs across the state and rolled back occupancy limits on restaurants from 75% to 50%. Today, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston region stands at 55,365. There were 2,065 confirmed new cases yesterday, July 8.  Asked about the impact of reopening efforts that began on May 1st, 7.6% of companies responding to the Partnership survey say they have reopened completely while another 38% say they have partially reopened. Nearly 10% say they have not reopened and nearly 45% report that they did not close.  About 67% of companies say they never furloughed or laid off employees while just 1% say they have recalled all employees that had been laid off or furloughed. About 32% say they have recalled all or some of their furloughed or laid employees.  About 54% of companies surveyed say they have received Paycheck Protection Program aid while another 10% of companies say they received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Two percent of respondents say they applied for federal aid but have yet to receive an answer.  As cases have risen, a growing number of companies are not bringing employees back to the workplace. Only 6% of companies have recalled all of their employees since May 1. Forty-four percent have recalled some employees and 46% have not recalled any of their employees.  Asked when they expect to resume normal operations, nearly half of respondents say they expect it will take three months or longer, up from 28% a month ago. Roughly 28% of companies say they don’t know when normality will return.  A total of 98 companies responded to the 11th Houston Business Barometer survey conducted by the Partnership between July 6-8.  See results from Week 10.   Get information and guidelines on reopening businesses safely from the Partnership's Houston Work Safe Program. Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information.
Read More
Economic Development

Texas One of Best States for Businesses to Survive COVID-19 Economic Turmoil

Texas is one of the best states for businesses to weather economic challenges brought on by COVID-19.  As reported by InnovationMap, a new study from Fit Small Business ranked Texas #3 when it came to business owners weathering the economic fallout from the pandemic. Ohio and South Dakota ranked #1 and # 2 respectively. New York was last.   Click to expand The study analyzed several metrics, including infection rates, consumer confidence and overall financial health. Texas ranked #1 in the Emergency Reserves & Relief category, which considered the overall reserve of funds the state has to help provide financial relief to those affected by the pandemic. The study noted the state's adequate economic reserves and unemployment compensation. Authors also cited an article by Richard Fisher, former president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who called Texas "the case study for economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession."  The study also pointed to the state's diversified economy, noting it as a key aspect of a state's ability to recover, and said while Texas has felt some affects of the economic downturn, it has enough resources to weather the storm.  See the full study and results from Fit Small Business. Learn how Texas compared to other states in each of the categories here. Learn more about Houston's diversified economy. Read more about Texas's business-friendly environment in the Houston Regional Market Profile.  Register for the next Greater Houston Partnership Economy Series. Patrick Jankowski, the Partnership's Senior Vice President of Research, will share a broad overview of major economic impacts from the first half of 2020 and the outlook for the rest of year.
Read More

Related Events


Save the Date: State of Education

Join us for the second State of Education event to learn how we can strengthen our region’s education system to provide our children and young adults a future where they can prosper and succeed. A strong…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners