Written on Jan 22, 2010 | by Admin
CORPUS CHRISTI ? Roland Mower on Thursday stood before local and state politicians, leaders in the nonprofit sector and area business leaders and encouraged them to think big and participate in economic growth. He held one piece of a puzzle and said each person was like that piece, needing to be connected to create a masterpiece.
The president and CEO of the Corpus Christi Economic Development Corp. said the 463 people gathered for the corporation’s annual luncheon held at the Omni Bayfront Hotel were vital for Corpus Christi to prosper.
The sentiment was repeated by the event’s keynote speaker Curtis Johnson, president of Citistates Group, a network of journalists, speakers and civic leaders focused on building competitive, equitable and sustainable 21st Century cities and metropolitan regions.
A strong higher-education system to train tomorrow’s workforce, a steady breeze that could make this region a wind energy mecca, a reasonable cost of living, geography that could benefit from the North American Free Trade Agreement corridor and the opportunities available from base closure are assets that could propel the region, he said.
“If this economy has any hope of prospering and sustaining our children in the future, we must think big, be creative and commit to innovation,” Johnson said. “And everyone has an important role to play.”
He shared success stories from communities such as Portland, Ore., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Denver, Colo. Each city reached a consensus on a solution, set big goals and developed a strategy to reach them.
Chattanooga didn’t wait for an order from the state or federal government to clean up its air pollution. Residents gathered to develop a plan and achieved it by working together, Johnson said.
Denver officials were ambitious to update its aging infrastructure. Instead of staggering projects one at a time for a period of 40 years, they garnered public support and funding to do them simultaneously.
“Never, ever underestimate the power of audacity,” Johnson said. “You start by seeing the assets and building from there. And you don’t have to be here long to see the assets here.”
Mower said 2009 was a difficult year for the region and, although 2010 will not be as good as was before the recession hit, it will see a slight improvement.
“Flat is the new up,” Mower said. “We expect to break on two big projects, Las Brisas Energy Center and TPCO America’s pipe manufacturing facility. With everyone’s help, we can bring more big projects to the area.”
Las Brisas proposes to invest about $3.2 billion in a new petroleum-coke power plant, and TPCO proposes to invest $1 billion in a steel pipe mill plant in Gregory. Both projects are awaiting a ruling on air permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.