NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In Gregory, Texas, a huge steel pipe plant buzzes with activity and makes history in the process. Chinese-based Tianjin Pipe Corporation made a $1 billion investment in the plant, marking the largest investment by China in an American manufacturing facility.
It's also a landmark in the development boom around the Port of Corpus Christi, which has seen an increase in foreign investment, thanks to financial incentives and its own geography.
"It's been tremendous. The whole region has taken on a new look with a lot of new companies, a lot of foreign investment, a lot of domestic companies that have been here have made major improvements to their facilities," said John LaRue, executive director of the Port of Corpus Christi. "We estimate we have over 32 billion in committed projects that are either underway or permitted and started construction."
Corpus Christ is one of the U.S.'s largest designated foreign trade zones, which provides manufacturers with some breaks on both taxes and duties for exported goods. In addition to companies like Tianjin, which operates through its joint venture partner TPCO America, domestic firms are also increasing operations in Corpus Christi. Those companies include DuPont (DD), Haliburton (HAL), Valero (VLO) and Cheniere (LNG).
It's not surprising that energy companies are active in the area. Corpus Christi is located just south of the Eagle Ford shale formation and its billions of barrels of oil and cubic feet of gas.