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Pearland sees surge in industrial growth

City officials began talks two years ago with FloWorks, which is consolidating

When FloWorks International recently broke ground on what will be a 245,000-square-foot industrial warehouse and operations facility, it marked the latest in a string of manufacturing and distribution companies coming to Pearland.

The planned $14 million distribution and warehouse campus will be at the corner of Texas 35 and Bailey Road on 41 acres in the city's industrial district.

Based in Houston, FloWorks operates 42 facilities worldwide providing pipe, valves, fittings and related products as well as technical solutions to the energy and industrial sectors. The Pearland location will be the nerve center for FloWorks' pipe, fittings and flanges business and consolidate eight of the company's Houston locations.

To accomplish that goal, the company is building 200,000 square feet of warehouse space, a 7-acre concrete pipe yard, 25,000 square feet of office space and a 20,000-square-foot machine shop on the property.

City officials began discussions with FloWorks executives in 2013 about possible sites and incentives, said Matt Buchanan, president of the Pearland Economic Development Corp.

"I think we are aggressive when we have companies that approach us that are interested in our community in trying to find them sites and working on making sure there is available land out there for them to develop these types of facilities," he said.

Buchanan said Pearland can offer industrial companies close access to Texas 288, Beltway 8 and Interstate 45. More than that, he said, companies are looking for places where they feel that investments will yield long-term rewards and be in communities where their employees would want to live.

"I think our community's quality of life, on top of the infrastructure that we've provided to them, makes us an attractive location in our region," he said.

Frank Riddick, FloWorks' chief executive officer, said Pearland was selected because of the availability of land, proximity to the company's existing locations and customers, access to transportation routes, business-friendly local government, and tax abatements not available in Houston.

The site planned for the facilities is in a 121.6-acre reinvestment zone created by the city in 2012 to encourage industrial development to create jobs and diversify and increase the community's tax base. The reinvestment zone has been an area of focus for city officials and the economic development corporation, which have invested in utilities and infrastructure to encourage development in the area.

"At FloWorks, for example, the city has invested in water and sewer lines in the area and a road expansion," Buchanan said. "That is just one example in the area of investments that the city made many years ago that are now starting to reap the rewards."

The payoff comes in the form of industrial development projects and job creation, Buchanan said.

In addition to FloWorks' estimated $14 million building project, the company will employ approximately 80 people. It isn't the only company to establish operations in the city's reinvestment zone or in its other industrial hot spot, the lower Kirby District.

In 2008, Pearland was home to approximately 1,364 industrial jobs. That grew by another 166 industry jobs in 2013, according to the latest numbers provided by the EDC. Approximately 740 more jobs have either already been created or will soon be available thanks to the addition of more large-scale industrial sector companies, Buchanan said.

Dover Energy completed construction in 2014 on a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing and operations center on a 14-acre site at the corner of Spectrum Boulevard and Hooper Road. The $23.8 million project created approximately 200 jobs.

Last year, Merit Medical finished a 92,000-square-foot medical device manufacturing facility that is also home to the company's research and development group. The $20 million investment on a 12-acre site on Kirby Drive created about 220 jobs.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor International completed construction earlier this year on an 180,000-square-foot $75 million manufacturing and service facility on a 26-acre site on Kirby Drive in Pearland's Lower Kirby Urban Center. Approximately 50 jobs were created. The company is expected to bring in more than $100 million in investments.

Tool-Flo, a Berkshire Hathaway-owned company, recently selected a 15-acre site in the city's Lower Kirby District for its 80,000-square-foot headquarters, training and manufacturing facility. Approximately 180 jobs are expected to be created. The project is a $40 million investment for the company.

Profile Wire, a manufacturer of high-grade stainless steel wire and other wire fabricated products, is constructing a new 22,000-square-foot facility on Industrial Drive. The $2 million investment is expected to create roughly 17 new jobs.

"When you have a quality place, I think you start attracting quality companies," Buchanan said. "I think as a community what we are seeing are the results of many of the investments that we've made in beautification and infrastructure. We are getting companies like FloWorks, Dover and Merit, to come in and build some of the highest-quality industrial facilities you'll see anywhere in the region. They are choosing Pearland to build those quality facilities, and I think it is a direct reflection on the quality of community that we have."