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The Houston City Council met Feb. 2 to discuss the addition of Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. and JPMorgan Chase Bank to the Texas Enterprise Zone Program.

The Texas Enterprise Zone Program was presented Jan. 25 as an economic development tool for Houston communities to partner with the State of Texas, promoting capital investment and job creation.

“A State Enterprise Zone is any census tract block group that has a 20% or higher poverty rate, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau during each decennial census,” according to the agenda. 

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Opportunities for the program arise every two years, and there are three spots open for Houston businesses to be a part of the program. To be eligible, the average salary of the company must be $70,000 or more. 

Transocean Offshore Drilling Inc.’s mission “is to be the premier offshore drilling company by providing worldwide, rig-based well construction services to our customers through the integration of motivated people, quality equipment, and innovative technology, with a particular focus on technically demanding environments.”

JP Morgan Chase Bank is “a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small business, commercial banking, financial transactions processing and asset management.”

Both businesses were greenlighted to become two of the companies in the Texas Enterprise Zone Program. 

Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. has an investment of approximately $50 million into their project, with the retention of 426 jobs and the addition of 10 new jobs.

JP Morgan Chase Bank also has an approximate $50 million investment, with the retention of 490, and an additional 10 jobs. 

Abbie Kamin, City Council District C, voted no on this resolution to add Transocean Offshore Drilling to the program. Kamin serves on the Economic Development Committee that assisted in creating the Texas Enterprise Program. 

Kamin believes this program to be created for small- midsize businesses, instead of large corporations such as Transocean Offshore Drilling. 

“The purpose of this program was never to aid large multinational corporations located outside of the enterprise zone,” Kamin said. 

“I understand that there are loopholes that allow said corporations to take advantage of these programs, however, we do not have to take part allowing them to do so,” she said.

She said she’s looking forward to working with the Vice Mayor Pro Tem and the economic development team to “hopefully revamp this process and allow smaller midsize businesses to be able to engage in this opportunity.”

Councilmembers discussed ways to promote this program so that it is more widely known by businesses in Houston. 

“We are looking to work closer with the state to gather information so we can further push that information out to our communities, as well as allowing chambers to get this information so they can also be apprised of these opportunities from the state as well,” Kamin said. 

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner strongly urged council members to make suggestions of prospective companies for the program. 

Mayor Turner said the project is a valued and tremendous opportunity for young people in the city of Houston. 

Written ByHaley Weger

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