Two recent studies highlight the significant contributions of the Port of Galveston to the economy of Galveston and the region.
Last month, at a joint meeting of the Galveston County Commissioners Court and the Galveston City Council, Dr. John Martin presented the results of an examination of economic impacts of marine cargo and cruise activity at the ports of Galveston and Texas City.
Last week, the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau reported the results of a study on the economic impact of tourism. Both studies document the key role the port plays in generating revenue and jobs.
Martin Associates, a national research firm specializing in economic impact studies for the maritime and aviation industries, recently completed a study of the impacts of cargo activity at the terminals in the port and along the Galveston Ship Channel.
The numbers are impressive. In 2015, cargo and cruise operations generated $66.8 million in state and local taxes. In addition, 13,892 jobs in Texas were generated or sustained by port operations and other maritime activity along the ship channel, including 3,912 direct jobs and 5,648 induced and indirect jobs.
A separate analysis of the direct jobs revealed that 59 percent of those employees live in Galveston, 36 percent live in Galveston County and just 5 percent are non-county residents.
Cruise operations generated impressive economic impacts of their own, according to a recently released study commissioned by the CVB. The number of visitors to Galveston increased in 2016, with a strong contribution from an increasing number of cruise visitors. (The number of embarkations at the cruise terminals were up 4.11 percent in 2016.)
Cruise activity generated $58.4 million in passenger onshore spending — 11 percent of the total visitor spending on the island in 2016. This is particularly impressive when one considers that tourism on the island generated a total of $158 million in taxes in 2016 ($43.1 million in local taxes and $33.5 million in state taxes — enough to offset the average household tax burden by $3,771).
The port accomplishes all of this without collecting taxes from the citizens of Galveston. By contrast, other public ports in the state, such as Port Houston, levy taxes on the citizens in their region. Thus, while benefiting from the jobs, economic impact and tax revenue generated by port operations, residents of the city of Galveston have an advantage over their peers who live in port areas that levy taxes.
Instead, the Port of Galveston funds all operating, maintenance and some capital improvement projects from the revenues it generates annually.
More expensive capital projects, such as the recently completed expansion of Cruise Terminal Two, are funded through loans.
Thanks to the support of the city council and the city’s Industrial Development Corp., the port has also received funds to help offset the cost of certain projects including $455,000 to replace the roof on the original Cruise Terminal 2 building.
The Port of Galveston is a key contributor to the island and regional economy. Thanks to the leadership of the board of trustees and the support of the city of Galveston and its residents, it will continue its role as an economic engine well into the future.