Industrial development didn't stop in San Patricio County despite the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the county judge said.
Judge David Krebs was the keynote speaker at the "State of the County" on Wednesday at Portland Community Center.
"Who wants to remember 2020?" Krebs said. "It was a year that we need to be reminded by, which is, which does not break us, it will make us stronger.
"Every one of us can say here that we're totally stronger than what we were when we went into 2020."
The county has spent $1.28 million out of its 2020 budget fighting the spread of the virus. The county still has yet to be reimbursed for money it spent on Hurricane Harvey, which struck the Texas coast more than three years ago.
And combating the virus hasn't been easy. The hurricane took out the county's only hospital, which was private.
However, public officials have continued to support the industrial development of:
Cheniere Energy's liquefied natural gas export terminal.
ExxonMobil's $10 billion Gulf Coast Growth Ventures plastics manufacturing plant project in Gregory.
and Steel Dynamics' $1.9 billion flat roll steel mill near Sinton.
"None of those industries slowed down a bit to get into this county," Krebs said. "They wanted to be in in this county."
Houston-based Cheniere is the largest U.S. exporter of liquefied natural gas. It has a permit for three production units at its facility off State Highway 35 and is waiting for a permit to construct seven mid-scale production units.
The terminal adapted to pandemic regulations and has continued to operate, Krebs said. And industry officials and employees are "doing everything they can out there."
Gulf Coast Growth Ventures broke ground on its multi-billion dollar plant in September 2019. The plant is "getting pretty close to the peak of construction," Krebs said. He expects some operations to begin by the end of the year.
"If they haven't fired up some of their boilers out there or steamers out there, it will be happening pretty quick," he said.
Steel Dynamics is slated to finish building the steel mill in the latter half of this year, Krebs said. The plant has roughly 360 employees right now. It will eventually have 650 full-time, permanent jobs when it reaches full production. About 1,600 contract workers are also still working to build the steel mill.
Regarding residential development, the county added 250 new houses in 2020, Krebs said.
"I'm sure in 2021, with Exxon coming on, STI, and Cheniere coming online, we're going to be adding a lot more people and homes here in this county," he said.