Morning keynote will look back at the Panama Canal expansion and how it helps the U.S., Texas and regional economies for maritime, petrochemical and logistics industries

 DEER PARK, TEXAS (July 30, 2019) – The 10th annual Gulf Coast Industry Forum kicks off Sept. 18 with an update on how the Panama Canal expansion impacts the Houston Port Region. The inaugural Gulf Coast Industry Forum held in 2010 featured a keynote from the Panama Canal Authority on how planned canal expansion would help Texas and U.S. economies. Ilya Marotte, vice president of Transit Business for Panama Canal Authority updates canal expansion business impacts during the first keynote of the 2019 conference at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Hosted by the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region with presenting sponsor Port Houston, the conference features three other keynotes on opening day. Port Houston’s Chairman, Ric Campo, will provide an update on Port Houston’s growth and future activity. Opening day also features an energy and petrochemical keynote from Dave Witte, senior vice president with IHS. Texas Land Commissioner, George P. Bush, delivers the opening day’s closing keynote.

Three expert panels are set for opening day. The first examines Texas legislative activity and its impact on the region’s economy. Texas Senators Larry Taylor and Carol Alvarado lead the panel moderated by Texas Chemical Council president Hector Rivero. Another panel delves into actions to improve freight transportation in the growing Ship Channel region. An afternoon panel of experts outlines refining growth and its impact on Texas and U.S. economies.

National trade association executives give updates on U.S. policy impacts on region (page 2)

The second day of the conference, Sept. 19, features an afternoon keynote panel with the president of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), Chet Thompson, and a senior executive with American Chemistry Council talking about U.S. policy and impacts on their respective industries. Back-to-back panels open the second-day program. The first includes plant operations and technology managers providing an outlook for the chemical industry. The second panel involves workforce development leaders and operations managers with updates on efforts to develop a qualified and well-trained workforce needed to build and maintain oil, gas and petrochemical industry expansion in the U.S. Gulf Coast region.

Sept. 19 also features three keynote addresses. Chevron Phillips Chemical senior vice president Ron Corn’s keynote leads into lunch while Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton presents his keynote on Texas’ oil, gas and petrochemical industry’s role in the global economy. Captain Bill Diehl, Greater Houston Port Bureau president closes the conference with an update on maritime traffic, logistics and the importance of Houston Ship Channel operations and logistics on local, regional and national economies.

In addition to a wealth of information sharing through panels and keynotes, the Gulf Coast Industry Forum will host four special events. Turner Industries sponsors a networking reception on Sept. 18 at the San Jacinto College Center for Petrochemical, Energy and Technology. The college will provide tours of its newest building that will improve oil, gas and petrochemical education through state-of-the-art labs, classrooms and skills training centers, as well as small-scale operating unit.

Continuing the workforce development theme, the conference hosts a breakfast the morning of Sept. 19 for students from local colleges and high schools who are interested in entering maritime, logistics and petrochemical careers. Maritime executives, Port Houston representatives and petrochemical plant managers will answer students’ questions about careers during breakfast.

An Industry Icon award will be presented to an industry leader to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Gulf Coast Industry Forum. This award will recognize an individual within industry who has demonstrated prestigious efforts to amplify the region’s economic activity.

BGE sponsors a closing reception as the conference ends around 4 p.m. on Sept. 19.

There will also be updates on industry safety performance and regional air quality. Both safety and air quality have seen dramatic improvement in the 10 years since the first conference.

The conference kicks off at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, with networking and vendor visits. Pasadena Mayor Jeff Wagner welcomes conference participants and speakers at 9 a.m. An industry safety moment and update on improving safety records follows the welcome.

Speakers, networking draw large crowds for 10th annual Gulf Coast Industry Forum (page 3)

“A strong lineup of speakers will help us celebrate the tenth anniversary of our business outlook conference,” said Roger Blackburn of Wood, chairman of the forum. “Having the Panama Canal Authority participate again for the first time since our initial conference provides a look back on how business projections come to life to help our economy. This fits nicely with this year’s conference theme – ‘what we make here changes the world’.

Chad Burke, President and CEO of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region expresses his appreciation for all the volunteers who spend a year planning the event. “Each year the conference gets larger and we add something special. This year, in our tenth year, we have the opportunity to celebrate the opening of San Jacinto College’s Center for Petrochemical, Energy and Technology which will develop a qualified workforce for the oil, gas and petrochemical industry. Last year, we held our reception at San Jac’s Maritime Academy where the college is training students for the maritime industry.”

“We also added an Industry Icon award to recognize someone from industry that has provided noteworthy impact on economic development in the Houston Port Region,” added Burke. “Impacting our region impacts the world because the products we make here improves the world.”

Port Houston has been the presenting sponsor of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region Gulf Coast Industry Forum since its inception in 2010. Additional sponsors for the 10th anniversary include:

  • Platinum sponsors: San Jacinto College, Lee College, Turner Industries and Air Products.
  • Gold sponsors: ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron Phillips Chemical, City of Pasadena, Pasadena Economic Development Corporation and Houston Business Journal.
  • Silver sponsors: BGE, Mobil Steel International, Inc., Associated Builders and Contractors/CMEF, ACIT/Texas Chemical Council, Bay Area Observer, BIC Allliance, East Harris County Manufacturers Association, and Winkler Public Relations.
  • Bronze sponsors:  Capital One Bank, Gulf Coast Authority, Houston Pilots, LBC Houston, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., McDonough Engineering Corp., Stork – a Flour Company, and Tolunay-Wong Engineers, Inc.

To sponsor, register or for more information, visit:

What we Make here Changes the World

About Port Houston [Conference Presenting Sponsor]

For more than 100 years, the Port of Houston Authority has owned and operated the public wharves and terminals of the Port of Houston – the nation’s largest port for foreign waterborne tonnage and an essential economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas, and the nation. It supports the creation of nearly 1.175 million jobs in Texas and 2.7 million jobs nationwide, and economic activity totaling almost $265 billion in Texas – 16 percent of Texas’ total gross domestic product – and more than $617 billion in economic impact across the nation. For more information, visit Port Authority website at:


Lisa Ashley, Director, Media Relations

Office: 713-670-2644; Mobile: 832-247-8179; E-mail:

About the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region  

Economic Alliance Houston Port Region is a regional non-profit economic development corporation with a mission to create a vibrant regional economy – driven by economic development.  The Economic Alliance goal is to be the most sought-after region in the entire world for potential employers and their employees. Objectives to accomplish the goal include offering top-notch economic development services to site locators, brokers, private industry, and our member cities & communities from inception of a project to groundbreaking. Since 2008, the Economic Alliance has supported more than 61 successful projects that have helped create more than 4,400 new jobs and over $10.148 billion of capital investment in the region.

Membership of the Economic Alliance consists of 12 cities, the Port of Houston Authority, Harris County, and 250 private industry members with business in the vicinity of the 25-mile Houston Ship Channel.  The Houston Ship Channel is home to one of the world’s most influential energy corridors and trade ports. For more information:


 Interview opportunities are available with speakers prior to and following presentations.

Event Media Contacts:

Kaitlyn Conner, Economic Alliance, 832.473.3087

Dennis Winkler, Winkler Public Relations, 713.259.0195