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Strategic Master Plan will guide port growth
After 1 ½ years of research, analysis and public input, the Port of Galveston’s detailed 20-Year Strategic Master Plan is almost finished.
The Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees is expected to consider adopting the plan at its December meeting. We’ll also hold a series of open houses soon to introduce the plan to the public and our partners.
Then the real work begins.
The board will use this business-driven plan to prioritize and guide projects and activities to fulfill our mission - to grow the port’s business to benefit the Galveston community with jobs, tax revenues and economic growth.
We’ll use the plan’s solid data, industry forecasts, port business revenue modeling, project cost estimates, etc., to prioritize projects in 5-year phases.
It’s important to remember that the plan is an evolving document. While the Galveston Wharves mission will remain the same, this is a flexible plan that will be updated based on market demand, business strategies and funding sources.
Here are a few things that we know today:
- Cruise business generates 65 percent of our revenue and is forecast to grow.
- This revenue helps fund docks, cargo laydown yards and other infrastructure improvements to maintain a strong, diversified business.
- We plan to build an interior port road system to alleviate Harborside congestion.
- We’ll work with our community partners to better connect the waterfront to downtown.
- We have limited land so need to optimize what land we have.
The plan identifies a list of projects for each of four areas in the 700-plus-acre port. Broadly, here’s how it breaks down:
- West port will be the main cargo area.
- Mid port will have the two existing cruise terminals, parking and a commercial area.
- East port will have the third cruise terminal, another commercial area and some cargo activity.
- Pelican Island has tremendous potential as an industrial area once a new bridge and a rail bridge are built.
In all, the price tag totals more than $500 million, so how will we pay for projects when our net revenue was $8 million in 2018?
No Quick Fixes
Unlike all other public ports in Texas (our competitors), Galveston Wharves has no taxing authority and must rely significantly on self-generated cash flow for repairs and capital improvements.
The master plan identifies four funding sources:
- Revenue (pay as we go)
- Grants (federal, state, local)
- Public-private partnerships
- Bonds issued by the city on the port’s behalf
The good news is that the port is financially strong and on a steady course. We’re also fortunate to have a visionary Wharves board, a talented staff and strong community support.
If we continue to manage expenses and build revenues, we can fulfill our mission to grow the port and benefit Galveston – and the region – with more jobs, economic growth and hotel and sales tax revenues.