When big investment means local opportunity for a small business - Energy Factor
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When big investment means local opportunity for a small business

Feb. 28, 2017

In 1978, freshly graduated, drafting degree in hand, Gilbert Santana went to work at ExxonMobil’s newly opened petrochemical plant. Before him, his two grandfathers also worked for ExxonMobil.

Nearly 40 years on, Santana is no longer onsite at ExxonMobil, but the third-generation Baytonian hasn’t left his hometown. And, in what some would call a case of serendipity, Santana is today seeing astounding growth for his own engineering and resource firm from the current ExxonMobil expansion known as the North American Growth Project.

“The blessing for us is that as a small, locally and minority-owned company, we had the opportunity to be involved in this massive project,’’ explains Santana. “This is just truly amazing.”

Gilbert Santana, CEO of BDI Resources in Baytown; Santana is a third-generation Baytonian.

Gilbert Santana, CEO of BDI Resources in Baytown; Santana is a third-generation Baytonian.

BDI Resources, headquartered in a converted bank building in Baytown’s historic downtown neighborhood only a mile from Santana’s childhood home, is just one of a number of small businesses that are benefiting from the expansion project.

For BDI the opportunities generated by the growth project will go on well beyond construction. Right now BDI supports the expansion by placing dozens of highly skilled employees, including process, technical and maintenance professionals, into roles that support the construction of a new ethane cracker plant in Baytown. The North American Growth Project also includes the construction of a new polyethylene plant in nearby Mont Belvieu.

“The North American Growth Project has brought thousands of direct and indirect jobs into the area and many of these jobs won’t be gone in six months or in a year. They’re here to stay,” explains Tracey Wheeler, president of the Baytown Chamber of Commerce.

Indeed, plant operators hired to work in the new plant in Baytown will also need teachers to educate their children, stores to shop in and doctors and nurses to see for checkups. Overall, once operational the plant is expected to add thousands of well-paid jobs to the local economy.

For Santana, the multiplier effect translates into greater opportunities for his small business and his employees.

“The growth project is a catalyst for long-term employment, not just today,” Santana says.

Above header image: ExxonMobil’s North American Growth Project constitutes the construction of an ethane cracker in Baytown and a polyethylene plant in Mont Belvieu.