The Port of Houston is an economic engine that produces jobs and economic prosperity for the local and state economy. Throughout its history, whenever the port has grown, Houston has grown. Someone once wisely pointed out that Houston is “the town that built the port that built the city.”
Learn more about how the Port of Houston has grown to be one of the world’s busiest ports and the nation’s leading port in terms of foreign tonnage.
The Port of Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of diversified public and private facilities located just a few hours by ship from the Gulf of Mexico. The port is consistently ranked 1st in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage; 1st in U.S. imports; 1st in U.S. export tonnage and 2nd in the U.S. in total tonnage. It is also the nation’s leading breakbulk port, handling 41 percent of project cargo at Gulf Coast ports.
The Port of Houston is made up of the public terminals owned, managed and leased by the Port of Houston Authority, and the 150-plus private industrial companies along the 52-mile long Houston Ship Channel. Each year, more than 200 million tons of cargo move through the Port of Houston, carried by more than 8,000 vessel and 200,000 barge calls.
As one of the world’s busiest ports, the Port of Houston is a large and vibrant component of the regional economy. A 2012 study by Martin Associates says ship channel-related businesses contribute 1,026,820 jobs throughout Texas, up from more than 785,000 jobs cited in a 2007 study. This activity helped generate more than $178.5 billion in statewide economic impact, up from nearly $118 billion. Additionally, more than $4.5 billion in state and local tax revenues are generated by business activities related to the port, up from $3.7 billion.
The Port of Houston has been instrumental in the city of Houston’s development as a center of international trade. It is home to a $15 billion petrochemical complex, the largest in the nation and second largest in the world. Carrier services on all major tradelanes link Houston to international markets around the globe. The ship channel also intersects a very busy barge traffic lane, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Companies that do business internationally also find Houston attractive because of its well-developed financial infrastructure, skilled work force and diverse population. Ample space and favorable conditions for industrial development, as well as for cargo handling, make Houston a choice location for industry.
Houston has the nation’s 3rd largest consular corps with more than 90 nations represented. Additionally, the Bayou City has 22 foreign banks from 12 nations, 30 active international chambers of commerce and trade associations, and numerous Houston operations of foreign-owned companies. Houston is one of only eight U.S. cities to have a regional office of the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
Centrally located on the Gulf Coast, Houston is a strategic gateway for cargo originating in or destined for the U.S. West and Midwest. Houston lies within close reach of one of the nation’s largest concentrations of consumers. More than 17 million people live within 300 miles of the city, and approximately 60 million live within 700 miles. Ample truck, rail and air connections allow shippers to economically transport their goods between Houston and inland points.
The Port of Houston Authority’s leadership understands the importance of balancing business with environmental stewardship. Providing a safe and secure environmental for international trade is also a foremost issue. Learn more about how the Port Authority became the first U.S. port to attain the world standard for environmental excellence, ISO 14001. The Port Authority is also a leader in security management.
The Port of Houston has an impressive record of accomplishments including unloading the world’s first container ship.