GREGORY, Texas – Overnight, Gregory’s Gulf Coast Growth Ventures plant will become fully operational using natural gas and turning it into two products that are used in the manufacture of a wide variety of things, t-shirts to auto parts.
Construction began in 2019 and factory managers say the process has not seen a significant slowdown despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting virtually every aspect of life.
The factory is large, and like many local industries, it emits sounds and lights. But the public affairs director of the joint venture between Exxon and Saudi oil giant Sabic says it will be a good neighbor to people who live within sight of the plant.
“What our community can expect now is a lot like what you are going through right now – not very strong, not very visible,” said Brandon Maxwell. “Outside of that immediate imprint, you might not even know we’re here other than being able to see each other from a distance.”
Many people who can see the plant from home do not agree.
Lydia Jaramillo lives less than a mile away, and the plant dominates the view from the backyard pool of her 11-year-old home. One of his biggest complaints is about the factory lights and the nighttime burning.
“You can’t see the beautiful stars anymore,” she said. “We live in the countryside and you can’t see the stars.”
Two doors down from Jaramillo, Bernadette Howard has similar complaints – including the traffic created by the 6,000 workers needed to build the plant.
Once that job is done, Maxwell says traffic won’t be as big of a problem with just 600 full-time workers needed to keep the plant running.
Still, Howard is ready to leave the house she’s been calling home since 2008.
“I discussed this with my husband,” she said. “When he retired, I kind of said, ‘Can we move out? “I never imagined us living next to a plant so close.”
The other neighboring plants are not as disturbed. Ricardo Martinez has lived directly across from FM-2986 from the property where the factory has now been located for 20 years.
“Right now, where we live here, it’s not that bad,” he said. “As you can see here right now, you can’t even hear it.”
Maxwell says neighbors at the plant will hear and see his workers and company executives giving back to the Gregory area.
“We have put in place a program called our Good Neighbor Program which is designed just for this: to identify ways in which Gulf Coast Growth Ventures and our employees can be an integral part of our community and have a meaningful impact. “