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Odessa is a stop on the Entrada al Pacífico trade corridor.
The city became home to major retail distribution centers for Family Dollar in 2003 and for Coca-Cola in early 2007.
In November 2007, the city approved a contract with a company that develops armaments for US Army helicopters to begin operations in Odessa.
As in many municipalities, some of the largest employers are in the education, government, and healthcare industries.
Odessa was founded in 1881 as a water stop and cattle-shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway. Odessa became the county seat of Ector County in 1891 when the county was first organized.
It was incorporated as a city in 1927, after oil was discovered in Ector County on the Connell Ranch southwest of Odessa.
The racial makeup of the city was 75.4% White, 5.7% Black, 1.1% Asian, 1.0% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 14.2% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Of the 35,216 households, 37.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.6% were not families.
With the opening of the Penn Field in 1929, and the Cowden Field in 1930, oil became a major draw for new residents.
In 1925, the population was just 750; by 1929, it had risen to 5,000.
Plans are in place for a nuclear power plant to be run in conjunction with the nuclear engineering department at University of Texas of the Permian Basin, called High-Temperature Teaching and Test Reactor. Odessa's main enclosed shopping mall is Music City Mall, which includes Dillards, JC Penney, Sears, Burlington Coat Factory, an indoor ice skating rink, and a television station.
Construction of new retail in recent years has been concentrated on the city's northeast side.