Panama Canal expansion to benefit Houston

June 22, 2011 4:52:27 PM PDT
The future of shipping is about to change and Houston's economy will benefit because of that.

This all has to do with what's happening to the Panama Canal, a critical crossing point for cargo.

Not far from the shadow of the towering Panama City skyline is a constant stream of cargo ships. All of them headed north from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Many of them headed into the Gulf and to the Port of Houston through the legendary 97-year-old Panama Canal.

But just as the skyline is changing so is the historic canal, expanding to accommodate ships two and half times as big as those lined up today.

"The canal is Panama. Panama is the canal," said Juan Carolos Arias, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Panama.

Arias says cities like Houston are poised to benefit from what happens there.

"We are very interested in developing opportunities with the United States. Obviously the canal expansion will bring significant opportunities for cities and states all around the Gulf coast," Arias said.

The canal expansion is only halfway finished. It'll probably be another three years before it's complete sometime in the year 2014. But already in southeast Texas we're beginning to see the signs the potential impact that canal expansion could have.

In Baytown, the 15,000-acre cedar crossing industrial park is ready for more growth. Already in advance of the expansion, Home Depot and Walmart have built impressive distribution facilities. Not to mention the park abuts I-45, a Chambers County barge dock and two major rail lines.

"The expansion of the Panama Canal will revolutionize the trade routes of products both into and exporting out of Texas and the United States," said Lee Goodwin with the Cedar Crossing Industrial Park.

In fact, Cedar Crossing sent a pair of executives with the Houston delegation to learn how they can further benefit from the growth three years ahead of the curve -- a curve already stretching from Central America to southeast Texas.


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