Twenty years ago, the Galveston Economic Development Partnership opened our doors when Galveston was facing several economic challenges. From the city to the port — from crumbling infrastructure to eyesore buildings — many of the wheels on Galveston’s economic bus were either losing air or outright flat.

Today, we’re debating the exponential growth of tourists, port profit-sharing with the city, historic levels of public investment in neighborhoods, parks and infrastructure by the city, and an enhanced level of “investor” confidence in our island.

Challenges remain. The city is facing financial challenges that will have to be dealt with, and the port must reinvest in infrastructure for current and future development opportunities.

At the end of the day, we must work together to leverage resources with an eye to the future for aligning the best methods in which to achieve investment, reinvestment and ultimately benefits back to the taxpayers of Galveston.

Threats to our community’s long-term sustainability remain unresolved. Issues like quality “workforce” housing for the island’s middle-income; rate of commuter employment — today estimated at over 60 percent of the approximate 40,000 jobs on the island; population growth; transportation; and others.

Recently, the partnership has been involved in two specific initiatives that will impact the future of not only our organization, but our community, as well: Vision Galveston and the city of Galveston’s economic development strategy. Vision Galveston has developed a plan for moving forward that could have far-reaching impacts for several sectors of Galveston’s base.

The partnership was engaged by the city’s Industrial Development Corporation to develop an economic development plan for the city. Work continues on the implementation strategy of leveraging city resources with those of other allies within the city.

Participation in these efforts, as well as many other initiatives, occurring throughout our island has provided an opportunity for the partnership to refocus its efforts on key sectors of Galveston’s economic foundation.

Efforts today are focused on growing our emerging technology ecosystem, re-establishing the Customs House Incubator with the University of Texas Medical Branch for emerging technology companies; industrial business retention; sports tourism; disaster recovery/resilience; and maritime growth for all sectors from Interstate 45 to Pelican Island.

In addition, the partnership closely monitors developments related to the Pelican Island Bridge, potential Galveston Independent School District bond issue, port’s masterplan, Texas Coastal Study, issues that impact the cost of living/doing business on the island, and others.

Many of you may know the partnership from the “Developer Profile” magazine in conjunction with our annual economic development summit. Published and distributed to subscribers of The Daily News, this magazine highlights the economic climate of Galveston and Galveston County.

Galveston’s economic base is tied to three primary sectors: maritime, tourism and education/ health care. The partnership maintains strong working alliances within each of these sectors. Our focus remains in the attempt of identifying opportunities for job growth and tax base expansion.

On behalf of the members of Galveston Economic Development Partnership — businesses and governmental agencies alike, we thank you for the opportunity to support and participate in the ongoing growth of our community.

Jeffrey Sjostrom is president of the Galveston Economic Development Partnership.

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