Crossroads numbers indicate region sees continued economic growth


June 30, 2012 at 1:30 a.m.

Numbers crunched from early 2012 indicate continued improvement for the Crossroads economy.

Victoria County saw 900 more jobs at the end of 2012's first quarter than at the same time the previous year, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission. The county's unemployment rate also dropped to 5.9 percent.

Henry Guajardo, executive director of Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent, said the center has seen continued improvement. Job orders are up, especially in oil and gas, he said, while manufacturing and petrochemical construction also fare well.

"Almost every sector has seen an increase," Guajardo explained. "We're way below the national unemployment rate, and even lower than the state's."

Areas in the northern Golden Crescent have already seen unemployment rates below 5 percent, he said, and that trend might continue.

"I think that things will get better, just as they have been," he said. "We are seeing great things happening around here."

It doesn't end with local jobs, however.

Victoria saw nine commercial construction permits issued during the first three months of the year, more than four times the amount from the same time in 2011.

Recent retail additions, such as Victoria's T.J. Maxx, are good news for visitors, said LaRue Roth, director of the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau. A January focus group revealed people thought Victoria had enough retail options, but that a few more wouldn't hurt.

Those shoppers also need places to sleep, and statewide numbers showed the Victoria metro area's hotel occupancy sat at 75.6 percent for 2012's first quarter.

Roth said space remains tight at area hotels. While rooms are sometimes available on weekends, weekdays are another story.

"We have to dance real hard to squeeze in and get some rooms," she said with a laugh, explaining the bureau sometimes attempts to book room blocks for special events.

With the Hotel Western's recent opening, however, and a Hilton Garden Inn under construction, she said she hoped the situation would ease to some extent.

"Demand is there," she said. "We're turning away business and looking for that little light at the end of the tunnel."



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