2017 Economic Development Deal of the Year: Bronze Award

A partnership between Saudi Arabian Basic Industries and Exxon chooses Corpus Christi, TX for a new $10-billion ethane cracker.

By Business Facilities Editorial Staff
From the January/February 2018 Issue


Corpus Christi (TX) Regional Economic Development Corp. snared Business Facilities’ Bronze Award for the Gulf Coast Growth Ventures ethane cracker, a project that will have an estimate direct economic impact for the region of $11.3 billion over the next 10 years.

The Corpus Christi MSA was one of four finalists (including two in Louisiana and another location in Texas) for the Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project, which began with an anonymous “blind” RFP process and required all of the contenders to conduct significant engineering and site analysis of all candidate sites. Corpus Christi undertook engineering, data, workforce analytics and infrastructure assessments on more than 20 sites in the MSA before zeroing in on the winning location.

Corpus Christi Texas
During President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia last year, Exxon and
Saudi officials agreed to start the Gulf Coast Growth Ventures Project.
(Photo: pinterest.com.au)

The ethane cracker in Corpus Christi is the first substantial greenfield project in the U.S. for the Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC); Gulf Coast Growth Ventures is a partnership between SABIC and Exxon. “The fact that the Saudis are investing in a $10-billion petrochemical project in Texas underlines the reality that the United States is once again the world’s energy superpower,” BF Editor in Chief Jack Rogers said. “Congratulations to Corpus Christi for a job well done.”


Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corp. told BF that securing this project was a regional effort, including several key partnerships across a number of groups.

The Port of Corpus Christi agreed to acquire land and build critical infrastructure; San Patricio County agreed to specific property tax abatements, and fast tracking of development approvals; and the City of Corpus Christi has agreed to supply up to 25 million gallons a day of water (and work with San Patricio County Water District) to get the water into another county to supply the project. The Texas Governor’s Office provided specific incentives and customized training.

Several of the region’s educational resources also pitched in: the Gregory Portland School District approved one of the largest property tax abatement incentives in Texas to secure the project; Del Mar College agreed to double the size of its Process Technology training program and build ethylene glycol training units; and Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi will be creating engineering programs.

Corpus Christi TexasThe amount of engineering, data, workforce analytics and infrastructure assessments required for this project was extraordinary. In May 2017, the companies selected the Corpus Christi MSA site, and the project is currently in EPA permitting. They have let the first contracts to do site preparation, that amount to over $100 million in contracts. The project will take over a year to get full federal and state permits, but already contractors are on site doing preliminary work.

One of the largest Capital Investment projects on the Industrial Gulf Coast, the new ethane cracker will  create almost 650 direct new jobs at $90,000 salaries, and more than 3,000 indirect jobs. These jobs will turbocharge the entire Corpus Christi MSA, which was bettered by Hurricane Harvey.

Read about the rest of the 2017 Economic Deal of the Year Award winners: GoldSilver, and Honorable Mentions.