Pasadena is no stranger to job opportunities thanks to strong relationships with the midstream, down stream and maritime companies along our industrial corridor and the Port of Houston. However, a little deeper inside the city limits, it was no secret that older areas of Pasadena had been struggling with economic viability for at least a decade.
In efforts to solve this issue, one first order of business would be to bring Pasadena’s Second Century Corporation into the new millennium with a re-branding as Pasadena EDC. Newly appointed Executive Director Carlos Guzman wasted no time in teaming up with
Board President Steve Cote to make the Pasadena Economic Development Corporation a major player in business acquisition. After hearing Mayor Wagner’s vision and visiting with countless business owners and residents, Guzman and his team quickly got to work on creating the EDC’s updated image, website and message: Moving. Forward. Together.
According to EDC manager, Rick Guerrero, in just over 12 months, the Pasadena EDC has helped generate an estimated $1.5 billion in capital investments for the city, with roughly 1100 full-time, primary new jobs. One example of this is the redevelopment of the historic Post Office located at Munger St. that was recently purchased from small business owner Javier Morales for his architect and engineering firm, J. Morales Inc.
One of the primary suggestions from the EDC was to commission a comprehensive strategic plan. The highly respected development consulting firm, TIP Strategies, was brought in to create a 10-year road map to guide Pasadena’s growth. Research confirmed that Pasadena is the second-largest city in the greater Houston area. Pasadena’s role as the “second city” in one of the largest metro areas in the U.S. puts it in the same league as Fort Worth, Texas, along with Long Beach and Oakland, California, according to the Economic Development Strategic Plan Summary commissioned by the Pasadena EDC.
The beauty of industrial research and advancement means that Pasadena is shedding the old-fashioned image of a “smokestack city” and emerging as a dynamic global energy leader with cleaner, safer and more technologically-driven midstream and downstream companies with an existing job force second to none. The large cluster of midstream and downstream petrochemical companies, port-related businesses and health care employers are the backbone of Pasadena’s economy, the Economic Development Strategic Plan also noted.
That backbone is about to take on a welcomed extra load with the recent upsurge in permits for industrial office/warehouse space. In the last fiscal year, the City of Pasadena Permit Department has issued permits for more than 1.1 million square feet in office/warehouse-related businesses. “We’re seeing an explosion of new office/warehouse construction in our city,” said Michele Jannise, Pasadena building official. “I believe it’s an impact of an actual need for space near the ports and waterways for moving product.” Once again, Pasadena’s ideal positioning reaffirms the famous real estate adage, “Location. Location. Location.”
But everyone knows that a strategic plan is just the first puzzle piece for a re-energized, united Pasadena, Mayor Wagner noted. “Everywhere you look, this city is full of growth opportunities for any business sector you can imagine: industry, medical, educational and retail,” he said. “The job of my team is to redefine the landscape so companies are aware of the potential in every area of Pasadena.” The Pasadena EDC’s plan recommended several catalyst projects including Pasadena Convention Center district redevelopment, Pasadena Town Square Mall redevelopment and infrastructure improvements along the city’s major corridors.
The City of Pasadena isn’t the only one recognizing the investment potential in our region. San Jacinto College will continue to lead the way in training the advanced workforce to meet the growing demands of the industry with the debut of its newest facility in 2019, the 145,000-square-foot Center for Petrochemical, Energy and Technology. A $60 million investment, the Center will be the largest petrochemical training facility in Texas and will serve to meet the workforce demands of the nation’s largest petrochemical manufacturing complex.
This Center is poised to be the premiere training facility in Texas, and will feature an exterior glycol distillation unit with a state-of-the-art control room; the newest industry standard software, equipment and technology; instrumentation/analyzer technology and non-destructive testing training labs; a multifunctional glass pilot lab; and plenty of conference, training, an assembly spaces designed to accommodate academic, community and industrial functions.
2019 will also be the year of change in Historic Pasadena’s skyline. Last October, the Pasadena EDC purchased the old Pasadena Bank Building. Decades of neglect by previous owners had stripped the dignity of the city’s only high-rise and left it in an abandoned state of heart-breaking disrepair. In addition to being a public danger, the once-legendary architectural icon had become an eyesore and major deterrent for investors looking to breathe new life into the Pasadena Town Square Mall District also known as Macroplaza Mall. Once remediation and demolition of the unsalvageable structure is complete, the door will be open for investors to revitalize one of the city’s busiest retail corners adjacent to Pasadena City Hall, the Pasadena Police Station and the new Municipal Courts Building.
These plans are just the tip of the iceberg for what’s on the horizon in Pasadena. Our city is already home to foreign-based firms from more than a dozen countries in the petrochemical sector alone. Combined with an exceptionally innovative education system, Pasadena is poised to become the premier business destination it was always meant to be.