Economic Development Profile: Sweet As Sugar (Land)

Elizabeth Huff, Director, Sugar Land Economic Development shares her thoughts on the Texas city’s comprehensive and proactive economic development strategy.

By the BF Staff
From the March/April 2022 Issue

As the director of economic development for Sugar Land, TX, Elizabeth Huff, leads the city’s comprehensive and proactive economic development strategy and annual business plan, overseeing the Primary Employment, Public Private Partnerships, Cultural Arts and Visit Sugar Land divisions and coordinating with various local and regional organizations and partners.

Sugar Land Economic Development
Elizabeth Huff, Director, Sugar Land Economic Development

Business Facilities: What economic development projects are happening in Sugar Land?

Elizabeth Huff: Our City Council recently approved a tax abatement agreement with Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation, which is headquartered in Sugar Land. The agreement secures an additional $18 million in capital investment for BlueBonnet’s Sugar Land Business Park and creates an additional 200 jobs. This will be BlueBonnet’s third location in Sugar Land since moving its headquarters here in 1998.

The Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is adding more than 466,000 square feet to the hospital. The $206 million project includes a new floor for the intensive care unit and a roof-top helipad, among other things.

BF: What unique opportunities does Sugar Land offer?

EH: Just 20 minutes from downtown Houston, Sugar Land is near several international ports and is easily accessible from two major international airports. Sugar Land’s regional airport offers on-site U.S. customs and access to arrivals from private and corporate jets.

The city boasts a sizable cluster of biotech companies, a strong advanced manufacturing industry, and various corporate headquarters, along with unique development areas that suit a wide variety of business needs. The city boasts the second lowest property tax rate among cities of comparable size, and offers state and local financial incentives and programs to ensure businesses thrive.

Our highly educated workforce truly stands out. Some 60% of our residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 29% in Texas and 33% in the U.S.

BF: Can you share some success stories?

EH: Accredo Packaging, a family-owned manufacturing business, has been based in Sugar Land for nearly 15 years. Since 2017, they have more than doubled their workforce, and this year they are expanding for the fourth time. The $10 million investment is adding 30 new jobs to its workforce of 425 employees, making Accredo one of the largest employers in Fort Bend County.

Another business based in Sugar Land is HCSS, a software solutions company known as the “Google of Sugar Land.” It has been headquartered in our city since 2009, and in 2015 a second location was added to its 12-acre Sugar Land campus.  Following its third expansion, HCSS was acquired by Thoma Bravo, a leading private equity firm in software. The company plans to double its 450-employee headcount in the next five years.

“The city boasts a sizable cluster of biotech companies, a strong advanced manufacturing industry, and various corporate headquarters, along with unique development areas that suit a wide variety of business needs.”

— Elizabeth Huff, Director, Sugar Land Economic Development

BF: What new economic development programs is your group is involved with?

EH: SLOED and the Planning and Development Department are actively working on a strategic project geared toward implementation of the Land Use Plan. The goal is to identify methods for promoting mixed-use redevelopment and infill in the Regional & Neighborhood Activity Centers, including consideration of creating new zoning district(s) or utilizing the Planned Development (PD) District. Part of this project will be identifying appropriate methods for promoting mixed-use development, redevelopment and infill in the Activity Centers through zoning and incentives.

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