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.

Peter Simons

is the interim executive director of the Port of Galveston.

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(3) comments

npappous
Norman Pappous

Economic impact studies mean squadoosh. They are marketing fluff. But let us say that they are not. Two things - 1. The citizens and businesses of Galveston dwarf the Port's economic impact to this island, yet we pay local, state, and federal taxes. 2. If the Port is of such regional importance then allow the region to support it instead of our island of 50,000 people. Why can't a major employer like Tilman Fertitta get the Port's tax deal if economic impact is the benchmark by which that decision is to be made? The majority of Port employees live on the mainland - not in Galveston. Let the mainland support the Port - we have sacrificed long enough.

Jeff Patterson

I really struggle to understand the data presented on the economic benefits of the Port to the City of Galveston, in particular that "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 in Texas and 5,648 induced and indirect jobs". The article goes on to say how many of the employees live in Galveston, etc. What the article doesn't say is how many of those jobs are related to the Port of Galveston, which I thought was the point of the article. Looking in the 2016 Developer Profile that was delivered a number of months ago in the Daily News, the Port of Galveston is only the 9th largest provider of jobs in Galveston (I'm assuming the 465 jobs shown for the ILA work at the Port), and that number pales in comparison to the largest job providers. It would seem that most of the value generated by the Port is not currently benefiting the City of Galveston, and there needs to be a relook at how the City could better utilize its resources and assets.

Charlotte O'rourke

Jeff,

"The Port of Galveston is only the 9th largest provider of jobs in Galveston (I'm assuming the 465 jobs shown for the ILA work at the Port ...."

The Port of Galveston (POG) does not have total job numbers posted in the GEDP profile that I've ever seen. ILA workers aren't the POG. The ILA is just one group that works on port facilities.

Hope this helps.

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