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Regional Economy

The Gulf Coast Workforce Development Area (WDA) is the largest workforce region in Texas. Houston and surrounding smaller cities, towns and suburbs form the newly defined Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown Metropolitan Statistical Area (H-B-S MSA).

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown MSA

The Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown MSA consists of Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto and Waller counties. The definition as shown was introduced January 2005 and includes the addition of Austin, Brazoria, Galveston, and San Jacinto counties. The regional economy is linked together by commuting patterns with Harris County at the core. A gradual spread from centralized Houston now reaches into adjacent counties and beyond.

Although the area continues to be highly affiliated with the oil and gas industry, efforts have been made to diversify since the economic oil bust of the 1980's. The area is industrialized with manufacturers of petrochemicals, petroleum refineries, fabricated metal products, food, paper, printing, publishing, computers and food products. Some of the leading private employers include Dow Chemical, Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, Schlumberger, National Oilwell Varco, and Halliburton.

The internationally acclaimed Texas Medical Center, which boasts such institutions as Memorial-Hermann Hospital, Methodist Hospital, the U.T.M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Ben Taub Hospital, the Texas Heart Institute and Baylor College of Medicine, provides a significant number of jobs and is a leading medical research center.

The Johnson Space Center is an important research and development center for the aerospace industry.

The MSA continues to expand as an international trade center supported by two major and several smaller airports, a large port system, numerous banking centers, and offices of more than 50 foreign governments.

Institutions of higher education in the area include Rice University, The University of Houston, Prairie View A & M, South Texas College of Law, Houston Baptist University, St. Thomas University and numerous community colleges.

Quick Facts

  • In the late 1990's and early 2000's the Gulf Coast region experienced shifts in its economic base due to weak growth in the oil and gas industry. Recent discoveries in shale formations and renewed efforts for the nation to become energy independent have reaffirmed the region as the leading domestic and international center for oil and gas exploration and production. In fact, the United States is rapidly moving to being the largest oil producer in the world before 2020.
  • Forecasts from the LMCI Department of the Texas Workforce Commission (2010 to 2020) show strong growth in the area of oil & gas exploration and production. Many other industries with ties to oil and gas exploration are also projected to see strong growth.
  • With a population growth rate that more than doubles the nation's the region is projected to expand in many areas at a much faster rate with especially strong growth in healthcare and education.

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