Crossroads retail, construction remain strong in third quarter – victoria advocate – victoria, tx

Despite the continuing downturn of the oil industry, Crossroads counties reported other industries picking up steam in the third quarter.

The third quarter of the year presented a challenge for industries reliant on oil in the Crossroads. However, retail and construction weren’t impeded in the July-through-September period.

Retail

Retail has remained steady and even grown in some parts of the Crossroads. Victoria County’s tax remained steady, despite concerns that less oil field money would be flowing in the second half of the year, according to numbers from the state comptroller’s office.

Goliad has seen many new shops open, which filled buildings that sat empty in the first part of the year, said Mona Foust, executive director of the Goliad County Chamber of Commerce.

“Goliad’s market is from out of town and people like to come here,” Foust said. “We get a lot of people from Corpus Christi, Houston and some from Victoria. That’s (the new shops’) market.”

Two new coffee shops have taken over empty space as well as retail stores and accommodations.

New stores also opened in Lavaca County and are revitalizing some older retailers that had been slumping, said Lavaca County Judge Tramer Woytek.

Locally owned stores are something that were needed in the area, Woytek said.

“There seems to be a lot of investment in retail stores,” Woytek said. “Just mom and pop type things have popped up.”

Construction

Construction continues to pop up around the Crossroads as well, especially in DeWitt County, said County Judge Daryl Fowler. H-E-B, 909 E. Broadway St., was a huge construction project which wrapped up at the end of the third quarter. The school district continued its expansion, which includes a new 800-seat performing arts center, two new elementary campuses, and junior high and high school additions and repairs.

Construction and building supply companies have done well in Jackson and Calhoun counties as well, said Brian Cunningham, a business advisor with Small Business Development Corp. that specializes in both counties.

Oil

Oil and oil-related industries took hits in the third quarter, however many Crossroads officials said it was the beginning of counties economically returning to what it was like before the boom.

“The Eagle Ford Shale has diminished,” said Woytek. “We’re seeing a little bit of tightening up and a little bit of slowing down. Those who thought it would last forever aren’t doing so well.”

Oil and gas mineral activity is a big contributing factor in Refugio County, despite not having big industry like in Victoria or Calhoun, said County Judge Robert Blaschke.

However, Refugio didn’t have an industry that really picked up the slack left by the oil field. Its other major industry, farming, was affected by flat prices.

“Refugio County is certainly interested in development,” Blaschke said. “There’s activity in neighboring counties. We’re paying attention to our neighbors and we’re kind of excited about the growth potential.”

Drilling in DeWitt County is the second highest in the Eagle Ford Shale. Fowler said although there has been a “significant decline in activity,” the money the county has will be reinvested.

About $22 million will be spent in DeWitt on roads and bridge renovation and construction, which is more than the operation of the county’s jail and sheriff office, Fowler said.

Layoffs

Oil industry layoffs continued through the beginning of the third quarter, with many heavy hitters like Halliburton, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell announcing thousands of job cuts.

But they weren’t the only ones.

Chemical and manufacturing plants started to see significant lay offs at the end of the third quarter. Notably, Invista laid off 3 percent of its employees in mid-September.

Despite the downturn in oil however, most Crossroads counties reported finishing out their fiscal year and the end of the third quarter strong while looking ahead.

“If we do get back to what was an old normal, when the last well is depleted, we’re getting out of debt now and do not have any intention of accumulating any new debt,” Fowler said. “We’re preparing for soft landing.”