Los Fresnos News

LNG Construction Jobs Offer Careers for Valley Residents

by Dr. Stella Garcia

In talking about the thousands of construction jobs that the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry would bring to the Rio Grande Valley, some may question the benefits of what they call “temporary jobs.”
By their nature, construction jobs are not long-lasting, but that does not diminish their importance or economic impact.

In my experience as provost of Texas State Technical College, I can tell you that while construction jobs may last for months or a few years, the men and women in the building trade are career professionals.

Many of our graduates have lucrative, longtime construction careers in engineering, pipefitting, welding, occupational safety, and instrumentation and electrical technologies, to name a few.

Many building trade professionals live in the Valley and work here as much as possible when the jobs are available. These are well-paying jobs that enable these men and women to buy homes, raise families and send their children to college.

Even when they travel for work, they still spend their paychecks and pay property taxes in the Valley.

Bringing the LNG industry to the Rio Grande Valley will benefit our local building trade professionals and our region’s overall economy in a number of ways. I’ll use the proposed Rio Grande LNG as an example.

First, this LNG export project on the Brownsville Ship Channel is expected to create approximately 6,000 jobs over roughly seven years during the construction phase and more than 200 jobs when in full operation. Over the decades that this facility will be in operation, it would be expected to generate additional temporary jobs for scheduled maintenance.

Second, Rio Grande LNG recognizes the importance of hiring and contracting locally as much as possible. Rio Grande LNG has maintained ongoing relationships with TSTC and other local training and educational organizations to make that happen.

Third, the RGV is already benefiting from local building trade training. Thanks to established skills training programs, Rio Grande LNG’s engineering, procurement and construction contractor, CB&I, has already employed over 2,000 RGV citizens on similar projects along the Gulf Coast since 2010.

Bringing Rio Grande LNG to the Valley could allow these hardworking men and women, as well as countless other local skilled workers, to work close to home near their families rather than working far away for months at a time.

This leads to my fourth point. In addition to hiring and buying locally as much as possible during construction, Rio Grande LNG has set a goal to fill as much as 80 percent of the full-time operations jobs locally.

For those interested in working on the Rio Grande LNG project, it’s not too early to begin preparing for these opportunities. Visit the Rio Grande LNG website at www.riograndelng.com to learn about vendor and job opportunities, as well as the vendor registration and job requirements.

At Texas State Technical College, we work to build career opportunities for our students, and the proposed Rio Grande LNG project would be a great source for jobs for our graduates.

Dr. Stella Garcia serves as Provost for Texas State Technical College in Harlingen and is a member of the college’s Executive Management Council.