Victoria tops state for job growth
By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Sept. 26, 2011 at 4:26 a.m.
If you think Victoria's economy is growing, the numbers support that view.
The Victoria metropolitan statistical area, which includes Calhoun, Goliad and Victoria counties, ranked first in the state in terms of job creation, according to RECON, a report distributed by the Texas A&M University Real Estate Center.
The region saw a 5.9 percent employment increase year over year in August, said Mark Dotzour, the real estate center's chief economist. The closest city following that was Odessa, with a 3.8 percent increase.
The news is clearly good, he said, but it's common for smaller cities to see major jumps because employment increases make a more noticeable difference.
Dotzour added that it isn't only the Crossroads area doing well. The Lone Star State saw significant job growth, with oil and gas up 17.4 percent from a year ago and construction up 5.5 percent.
The Crossroads' recent growth came for two main reasons, said Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce.
Hiring is already under way for Caterpillar's incoming hydraulic excavator plant, he said, noting the plant means 518 jobs off the bat, not counting suppliers and the plant's second phase. Victoria also sits in the middle of Eagle Ford Shale play, Vivian said.
"A lot of these oil companies are hiring and using Victoria as a base," he said. "Those numbers are counted into our local economy."
Such growth is a positive thing, Vivian said, but diversity is important. Caterpillar's jobs are permanent, but the oil play could last anywhere from six to 20 years.
"We've got to prepare now for the time when those jobs aren't there," he said, explaining Victoria is on the right track with its mix of education, plant, retail and medical jobs. "I've seen ... oil field towns that have just crumbled because the oil field dried up."
The area will likely see continued growth, at least for the next few years, said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp.
"Obviously, Caterpillar's impact is just beginning, and Eagle Ford appears to be on track, at least for a while," he said. "I think more good things are coming."