City of Dayton and Liberty County officials were joined by U.S. Rep. Brian Babin and representatives with CMC Railroad on Wednesday, April 7, to officially break ground on Gulf Inland Logistics Park, an industrial center that is projected to bring $100 million in private investment and as many as 5,000 living wage jobs to Liberty County in the coming years.
Located on a 1,050-acre tract on US 90 between State Highway 146 South and the Grand Parkway, Gulf Inland Industrial Park will be a multi-modal transportation and logistics center with direct connections to the BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. The proximity to the Houston Ship Channel and the Houston-area petrochemical industry is part of what made Dayton a prime location.
“You are all familiar with the attractiveness of Dayton’s strategic location and how this is a perfect place for the development of this world class, master-planned industrial park,” said Dayton Mayor Caroline Wadzeck at the groundbreaking. “We are very, very happy that CMC Railroad has chosen to develop it here in Dayton in Liberty County. It’s going to be exciting to see more groundbreakings taking place in the coming months as companies choose to locate here at Gulf Inland. We welcome their investment and all of the jobs they are going to bring to our area.”
The project received a significant amount of assistance along the way from U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, who attended Wednesday’s groundbreaking. Babin helped the City of Dayton secure a $4.8 million grant through the United States Economic Development Administration to provide the infrastructure that will be needed to support Gulf Inland. CMC Railroad contributed the remaining $1.2 million that was required as the City’s matching funds for the grant.
The grant portion of this project was funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 in which Congress and President Donald Trump’s Administration appropriated $600 million to the EDA for disaster relief funds as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Imelda, and Maria, according to Babin.
“The EDA invested $48 million in the State of Texas to help communities prepare for natural disasters and promote economic resilience and business growth. I was proud to be an early supporter of Dayton’s application for federal disaster grant funding which was vitally needed to support and expand the existing city infrastructure and promote economic growth,” he said. “Dayton is one of the fastest growing communities in Southeast Texas, and with the addition of the Gulf Inland facility and expansion of the Grand Parkway nearby, I know this region will continue to thrive.”
As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Babin has seen a lot of projects come through the committee. He believes Gulf Inland Industrial Park will be among the best.
“This is going to be one that will be tops in the state of Texas. It’s going to be a boon to your economy,” he said.
The City’s EDA grant will be used to widen Stillson Road from its existing blacktop surface to a concrete heavy-haul boulevard that will have two wide lines and possibly a center turning lane. The City obtained a right-of-way on the east side of Stillson Road for the project. Other funds will be used to install water, sewer and fiber internet to Gulf Inland Industrial Park to support the businesses that locate there in the future.
“This is the beginning of an economic engine and it’s in no small part to Congressman Babin and his office,” said City Manager Theo Melancon, adding thanks to CMC Railroad, Dayton City Council, Planning Director Kimberly Judge, Deputy City Manager and Police Chief Rob Vine and Public Works Director Roy Rodriguez for helping the project along the way. “It took a lot of hands to get here but it’s the beginning of a wonderful era.”
Melancon is excited that new living wage jobs will be added to the local economy.
“Right now, Liberty County and the City of Dayton officials are striving to bring in high-wage jobs with good benefits to the county,” Melancon said. “That’s one of the best things about the park. Jobs will be created, not just by CMC Railroad, but by the tenants of the park.”
Marcus Goering, president and CEO of CMC Railroad, said the vision for the park existed long before the grant funding made it possible. It also predated the location of the Grand Parkway, which could be seen in the background as Goering spoke at the event.
“I am excited about seeing more growth. This is the kickoff point. I look forward to doing this multiple times in the years to come,” Goering said.