With industry calling Portland home and bringing in millions of dollars a year, Portland seems to be making the best of it.

New restaurants, new homes, Gregory-Portland ISD building million dollar facilities for their students – Portland has become the destination for not only businesses but for families as well.

With Portland annexing thousands of acres earlier this year, it is prepped for growth. But when the 2020 census numbers came in, it proved that the city was indeed growing, just more than anyone thought.

“The census is in,” Portland City Manager Randy Wright told city council members in August. “Our new population according to the report is 20,383 as of April of last year.

“That is a huge difference from 2010. As a matter of fact, it’s far and away the largest growth rate of any community in the Coastal Bend.”

Portland boasted a 35% population increase from 2010’s 15,099. As far as counties in the Coastal Bend, San Pat showed a 6% overall growth rate compared to Nueces County which had a 4% increase.

Wright also said that Portland has a 2.5% growth rate per year, and while the population is near 21,000, by 2025 it will be around 25,000, making up a significant part of San Pat’s total 66,730 population.

Even the pandemic couldn’t slow down the city with Wright saying that since January, the city has averaged a 14% increases in sales tax month over month.

Add to that some big projects like the Indian Point Pier Pavilion Project, which is already underway, and the new $960,000 Chris Andrews Boating Center boat ramp project which will kick off soon.

Portland is also adding a lot of retail and restaurant spots with Chick-fil-A already taking the place where K-mart once sat and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and Auto Zone coming soon, amongst other new businesses.

On the school district side, Gregory-Portland ISD Superintendent Michelle Cavazos said earlier this year the district has met with community groups and the school board to change its belief statement as well as re-imagine its mission.

“So our new vision that our community created for us is; educate, inspire, and empower,” Cavazos said. “Our mission is to educate, inspire and empower our students to be successful in life and the next generation of leaders.”

Just in time for the start of the 2021-2022 school year, G-PISD opened up its $57 million, 215,681 square foot middle school with the new early childhood development center expected to break ground early next year.

All the new facilities are due to the $107.7 million bond package that passed last year which holds no tax increase to residents.

Cavazos also said that enrollment at G-PISD has grown by 6% while other districts across the state have dropped by nearly 4% due to COVID-19.

The latest project G-PISD announced was its $29 million fieldhouse being paid for by Chapter 313 agreements paid to the district from local industry and part of said bond.

The brand-new facility will include locker rooms, weight rooms, office spaces, storage for band and athletic program equipment, training classrooms and multi-purpose spaces to support academic and extracurricular competitions.

It’s hard to say what Portland will look like in one, five or even 10 years from now, but the fact of the matter is that the city is going to change. Drastically. But with strong city leaders at the helm, it should be a change for the better; for residents, students and the community as a whole.

“Benjamin Franklin once said, without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning,” Portland Mayor Cathy Skurow said earlier this year.

“Everywhere you look in Portland right now you see growth and you see improvements with the achievements and successes that accompany it.”

•pgonzales@mysoutex.com•

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