PORTLAND – In a matter of just a few years, the county’s landscape has changed drastically, especially in Portland. When guests step outside the San Patricio County Economic Development Corporation (SPCEDC) office, they can look off into the horizon and see the industry right in their own backyard, beyond the Northshore Country Club gold course.
By the time SPCEDC Executive Director Foster Edwards retires on Oct. 31, he would’ve headed the organization for five years and witnessed the growth firsthand.
Years before he took the Executive Director position though, serving as the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce CEO, Edwards would be in a city council meeting where a crucial agenda item was passed, unbeknownst to him setting the industrial growth in motion.
“Probably 10 or 15 years ago when the Port decided to put in La Quinta Channel, I remember being there when they voted to do it, and the Port had been working on it for a long time,” Edwards recalled. “I knew that it was good, but I didn’t know how it was going to change the game in San Patricio County.
“We wouldn’t have Cheniere, we probably wouldn’t have voestalpine, we wouldn’t have TPCO, we wouldn’t have Gulf Coast Growth Ventures and maybe not even Steel Dynamics if we didn’t have La Quinta Channel.”
While Edwards does admit that not everyone is happy with the growth coming to the county – especially in Portland – but he has always kept communities in mind.
“Growth is not always welcomed by everybody,” Edwards continued. “I understand, and we try to balance that. We’ve turned a couple of companies down since I’ve been here because we didn’t think they were the right kind of company for this for our area.
“So we get it. And we’re trying to get businesses to locate where they’re far enough away from populated areas.”
Edwards said that while he’s unsure of what the future will bring after the pandemic, he knows that having Cheniere, Gulf Coast Growth Ventures and Steel Dynamics here in the county will inevitably create more growth in the very near future.
“Service industry for them like suppliers and contractors,” he continued. “Sinton is going to be a different town in five years, I really think so.”
Speaking of the COVID-19 pandemic, Edwards said that wasn’t the reason he decided to retire.
“It’s time, you know?” Edwards said. “I want to spend time with my grandkids and my wife.
“I was retired for three weeks from the Corpus Christi Chamber, and the next thing you know I came over here,” he added with a laugh. “I had a great time; everybody’s been good, and everything’s been good, but it’s time to turn it over to somebody else.”
He said he also plans on doing some traveling with his wife and is looking forward to some downtime to relax.
He added that the SPCEDC will be forming a search committee to look for his replacement, and they have six months to do so.
So while Edwards hasn’t hung up his walking cane just yet, he’s preparing himself for a life without the EDC – a place he’s grown to love – and said he’ll miss the great people he has worked with and those who have helped him along the way.
“I’ll miss the activity; it’s fun to be in the middle of things,” he laughed. “I’ll miss that I’m sure, but it’s the right thing for me. I definitely think this is the thing that I need to do and want to do. I’m not doing it for health reasons or anything like that.
“I’m just doing it because it’s time.”