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Temperatures will be a little cooler tonight into Friday as weak surge of cooler air works in from the northeast. No rain is still expected through the weekend with our next opportunity for rain not until Tuesday as a cool front moves through.
Commercial construction decreasing in SETX
JEFFERSON COUNTY - by Lauren Huet
Fewer commercial, or non-residential, buildings are being built in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area compared to this time last year. A report from McGraw Hill Construction shows only 600 thousand dollars worth of future construction contracts were awarded this February. Compare that with 6.4 million dollars worth of contracts in February, 2013. Even then, a local contractor says, that's not that much.
Mike White is the executive director of Associated General Contractors of Southeast Texas. He says, since 2010, fewer and fewer commercial buildings have been built.
"As far as commercial contracting, building, it is down," said White. "We're down into the numbers in the 1980's, which is the worst time we had since the recession."
White says some commercial contractors have quit.
"Our guys are hungry, they're bidding jobs, they're bidding them tight and close and they have been for three years," said White. "You can get better prices now than you could have got probably the previous ten years."
He says business want to invest in Southeast Texas, but are waiting for several projects to be approved. Projects that are taking longer than they thought.
"They're waiting to see, is the [Keystone XL] pipeline going to be, is the president going to sign off on that? Is the president going to sign off on the deepening and widening project? When are they going to permit Golden Pass? That's a lot of jobs," said White.
The Southern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline connects Cushing, Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast. TransCanada is still awaiting presidential approval to build the northern part of the pipeline, which would connect Cushing, Oklahoma, to oil sands in Alberta, Canada.
The deepening and widening of the Sabine Neches Waterway was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate through the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. Once Congress settles differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, it will be sent to the president for his signature.
Exxon Mobile Corp. and Qatar Petroleum International are planning to build the Golden Pass Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Plant in Sabine Pass. However, it's waiting for a federal permit that would allow it to operate in countries that don't have free-trade agreements with the U.S.
White says businesses are waiting for those three projects to be set in motion before investing in Southeast Texas. He also believes negative stories about Southeast Texas aren't helping convince companies to move to Beaumont.
"All you hear on the news, state and national, is something negative happened at this school district, something at this one, and that's what companies see" said White. "Why do I want to come to Beaumont? All you ever hear is about the problems with BISD."
However, White says Southeast Texas has everything a business could want: access to shipping ports, the interstate, and water. Southeast Texas hasn't been nearly as affected by the drought as other areas.
"I'm a firm believer in ten years you won't even recognize Southeast Texas. But are we going to grow now? What are we going to do in the next two to three years?" said White.