Although the majority of news flowing from hurricane-ravaged areas in Texas and Florida has focused on humanitarian efforts and rebuilding initiatives, some harsh realities have also accompanied the storm’s aftermath. Unfortunately, it appears that not everything can be rebuilt.
Hewlett Packard recently announced that it is closing some of its manufacturing operations in northwest Houston. The 290 jobs will move to facilities in Chippewa Falls, WI, and Austin, TX. Company officials cited irreparable damage to the Houston facilities as driving the decision.
HP is also relocating 3,000 non-manufacturing employees to a new site in Houston and will attempt to find suitable roles for the manufacturing employees within the company. Houston city officials feel this is an isolated incident and shouldn’t impact the overall industrial footprint of the city. However, this does mark the second time that HP facilities have dealt with flooding in Houston since 2015.
From an industrial development perspective, Houston finds itself at an interesting crossroads. The manufacturing base in the area is driven primarily by oil, gas, and chemical processing. While the chemical sector remains consistent, the energy markets tend to fluctuate significantly over time. Right now, that area of manufacturing is growing due to an influx of domestic oil and natural gas production.
However, eventually, demand will catch up to supply, driving gas and oil prices up. This change will influence purchasing decisions that range from cars to heating fuel. As Houston recovers, it will be interesting to see how their rebuilding efforts sync with the cyclical nature of oil and gas markets. Ideally, the market will continue to grow and allow the city to leverage the associated benefits as it gets back on its feet.