Economy remains strong in Montgomery County

Tom Abrahams Image
Friday, February 13, 2015

CONROE, TX (KTRK) -- In a small Montgomery County classroom you can find evidence of a strong economy.

"Our classes are full," explained Elvia Taylor, the founder and CEO of Crossing Borders, a language school in which many of the students are the children of energy executives, or the executives themselves.

She started 15 years ago as the only employee. Now she employees 30 in her Woodlands location alone.

"We work with Anadarko," she told Eyewitness News. "We work with Baker Hughes, we work with Repsol, a lot of oil companies, a lot of attorneys."

She has not seen any signs of an economic slowdown -- and those tasked with bringing business here are cautiously optimistic.

"We are the headquarters for a lot of oil and gas companies," said Gil Staley, head of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership, "and those tend to be the last part to see a downturn."

One in three jobs at major employers in The Woodlands is in the energy sector. But The Woodlands is not just oil and gas. Like the rest of Houston, The Woodlands economy is diversified. Oil and gas may be the big player, but the medical industry also has a huge footprint.

There are already two major hospitals, with two more under construction on either side of I-45. Housing construction has not slowed.

"We've been through other downturns, up and downs before," said Karen Hoylman. She leads The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce. "We've always weathered those here very, very well because we pay attention."

There is some concern in commercial real estate. Despite ongoing construction, companies are forecasting slower growth and looking to lease out space they planned on filling with their own employees this year and next.

Mike Novelli is with the commercial real estate brokerage firm Cypressbrook. "With the recent downturn in the price of oil," he said, "we're in the process of seeing the market recalibrate. We're not sure where that's going exactly."