BY CASEY MURPHY
The Tyler Area Chamber Board of Directors unanimously voted Tuesday to support the creation of expanded domestic and international markets for liquefied natural gas.
Bob Westbrook, chairman of the Area Development Council, said the Chamber’s Energy Committee and its chairman, Gates Brelsford, recommended that the board show its support by sending a letter to the East Texas Congressional Delegation.
According to industry experts, there are numerous benefits of expanding the liquefied natural gas markets, the letter, which also has the support of the Tyler Economic Development Council, reads.
“Plentiful natural gas supplies and unprecedented advances in technology provide a historic opportunity for the U.S. to achieve energy self sufficiency while creating jobs and wealth for our economy,” the letter states. “(Liquefied natural gas) exports are expected to generate as much as $47 billion in net benefits to the U.S. economy, according to a recent NERA (National Economic Research Association) Economic Consulting study.”
Expanded LNG exports will create up to 450,000 jobs, including as many as 76,800 net jobs in the manufacturing sector, and grow the economy between $15.6 billion and $73.6 billion per year by 2035 as a result of expanded markets for the U.S. natural gas, according to a study by ICF International, the letter states.
A recent HIS Economics and Country Risk study estimates increased development of natural gas could generate more than 2.4 million American jobs by 2035, the letter reads.
Westbrook said the ability to export natural gas could mean an $11 billion to $27 billion impact to the economy.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, LNG exports would increase U.S. balance of trade by that much each year, the letter states.
“How it could impact the Northeast Texas area could be tremendous,” Westbrook said.
According to the letter, the Tyler Chamber and Economic Development Council will work with regional, state and national groups dedicated to raising awareness and promoting the benefits of expanded markets for LNG.
The Chamber Board brought no opposition to the Chamber joining the Our Energy Moment coalition, an organization supporting the issue.
On Feb. 5, a diverse group of businesses and economic development organizations launched “Our Energy Moment,” a coalition dedicated to raising awareness and celebrating the many benefits of expanded markets for LNG, according towww.ourenergymoment.org .
Tom Mullins, president of the Chamber and Council, said the letter of support encourages them to get involved with other groups and joining the coalition does that.
The board also voted unanimously to support and join the Texas Team Advancing Health through Nursing Coalition, which supports the expansion of nursing educational opportunities in East Texas and the state.
Mary Elizabeth Jackson, past chairwoman of the Chamber, said she serves on the coalition along with Dr. Linda Klotz, dean emeritus of The University of Texas at Tyler, and Rob Rose, system chief nursing officer at Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals & Clinics.
Mrs. Jackson represented the trio in asking for the Chamber’s support of the national program that pushes nurses to go up the ladder of education. She said Tyler is one of few cities were students can get their associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree, as well as their doctorate in nursing.
Not only do they want the support of the chamber but are asking individual businesses to sign up for the coalition through an electronic application, she said, adding that there will be a crisis in health care if they don’t focus on education.
All of the East Texas nursing school programs and most hospitals have become members and are supporting the effort, Mrs. Jackson said.
Also at the meeting, Rick Rayford, president and chief executive officer of Brookshire Grocery Co., was presented with the Volunteer of the Quarter award. He is founding chairman of the Tyler Area Business Education Council. Serving his second term leading the council, he initiated the local Ambassadors of Compassion program.
Tyler Chamber Chairwoman Rosemary Jones surprised Henry Bell, chief operating officer of the Chamber, with a plaque and gift for his 25 years of service to the Chamber. His anniversary is Thursday.
“Thank you for all your dedication and energy and the time you’ve put in to make the Chamber what it is,” she said.