By Betsy Dolan
Strategic location, a highly educated workforce and diverse population have helped make Missouri City’s economic developments efforts stand out, according to Mayor Allen Owen who addressed a large crowd at the State of the City address held at Quail Valley Town Center on May 15.
“Seeing us lower the tax burden on the homeowner by increasing business growth is what we’ve been successful in doing,” Owen said.
Owen touted the city’s double digit increase in commercial growth over the past five years. He attributed it to the success of public/private partnerships in attracting several new companies including Niagara Bottling, the second largest bottler in the nation and Ben E. Keith Foods which is Missouri City’s largest employer.
Twin Star Bakeries, Bimbo Bakery, Allied Group and CNC Manufacturing are also building new facilities or expanding existing facilities in the city’s business parks. Currently the city’s economic development office is working with a food manufacturer to purchase 20 acres for a distribution facility.
“All of this stuff we’ve talked about is over $500 million dollars worth of new business to the city,” Owen said. “But more importantly, it is over 1,500 new jobs.”
The city also opened its second Walmart, a Dunkin Doughnuts, a Raising Cane restaurant and is preparing to open their second hotel. In addition, Fort Bend Brewing Company is fully operational and now has their products in grocery stores and area restaurants.
“We want our work force to live here, shop here and go to our restaurants,” Owen said. “Hopefully as many of those businesses get running in the Gessner and Lakeview corridor we’ll start seeing even more restaurants and retailers move in.”
Owen also gave special recognition to Bob Graf, the city’s Economic Development Coordinator who is retiring in June.
The mayor addressed the formation of a Bond Exploratory Committee which is organizing efforts to put a bond referendum on the ballot for next year to help pay for aging infrastructure. The city still has $27 million worth of bond money and will spend that on street and drainage projects.
The opening of a new animal shelter, the expansion of the Oyster Creek trail system, the re-opening of the El Dorado bridge and the installation of flashing yellow lights at certain intersections were also highlights in Owen’s address. Improvements to Highway 6 include new turn lanes and turn signals and new dynamic message boards.
“I know some of you might not like the esplanades. They may be inconvenient. But eliminating the suicide lanes saves lives,” Owen said.
Later in the year and into 2014, Owen told attendees they can expect to see the expansion of Lexington Boulevard begin and $3.3 million in improvements to Texas Parkway.