Published Mar 31, 2021 by A.J. Mistretta
Located about 27 miles north of Downtown Houston, The Woodlands is regarded as one of the nation’s most successful master-planned communities and consistently ranks among the most desirable places to live. Residents and businesses alike are drawn to the community’s natural landscape and abundant quality of life assets that run the gamut from the performing arts to outdoor recreation. We spoke with Gil Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership about the area’s continued growth and what the future holds.
How does The Woodlands contribute to the fabric of the Houston region?
With our highly regarded quality of life and well-educated workforce, we have become a regional destination for corporate headquarters. Professional jobs abound among our 13 million square feet of prime office space.
What are some unique characteristics that really set this area apart?
The Woodlands is recognized as one of the top master-planned communities in the county. As our community name indicates, we are known for our dense woodlands interwoven among residential and commercial development. We have 147 parks and 220 miles of hike and bike trails for our residents to enjoy. The Woodlands combines the conveniences of modern life with the urban town center, surrounded by an oasis of the natural outdoors.
Describe the business community in the Woodlands. What are some of the most active industry areas?
The area’s economic base is well diversified with over 2,100 employers, including all sectors. These businesses range from owner-operated establishments to global corporate headquarters. Our top three sectors are health care, education and energy, followed closely by professional & businesses services.
What attracts most businesses to relocate or expand in the Woodlands?
In our global effort to recruit companies, we hear four attributes over and over: business-friendly community, well-educated workforce, low cost of living and high quality of life. The Woodlands has the perfect balance of live, work, play and learn.
What’s been the biggest recent change that’s propelled the efforts of the Woodlands EDP?
As a member-based organization, we have seen unprecedented support by the private sector. Practically every industry in our community is represented among our investors, known as Partners. We are fortunate to have C-Suite executives actively involved in economic development.
How has the Woodlands worked to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic?
During the height of the pandemic, we adopted a slogan, Stronger Together, which represents how our community united to face the challenges of COVID-19. We saw tremendous cooperation and support among those that could give their time, money and knowledge to those impacted by the pandemic.
What are a few signature spots to visit? Any hidden gems people need to know about?
Some of the best things to do in The Woodlands range from shopping and dining to adventurous hikes. We encourage our visitors and residents to get out and explore the George Mitchell Preserve, take a swan boat ride down The Waterway, play a round of golf on one of our renown golf courses or enjoy live music at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. This enormous amphitheater was voted number two in the world and has the best shows year-round.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for the Woodlands right now? (specific new commercial development, other game changer?
Many believe that The Woodlands is built-out after 47 years of consistent growth; however, several hundred acres are yet to be developed. The Howard Hughes Corporation is submitting plat applications for the remaining commercial properties it plans to develop in future years in The Woodlands. The plats represent approximately 2.5% of the total acreage of The Woodlands, approximately 700 acres, located primarily in The Woodlands Town Center and along commercial corridors such as I-45, FM 1488, FM 2978 and Kuykendahl Road, where commercial development already exists.
What’s missing from the conversation about the Woodlands?
Over the last year, health care has grown into the top business sector in The Woodlands with more than one in four jobs among our major employers. As a top medical hub, we are home to five major hospitals, including Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital, St. Luke’s Health – The Woodlands and Lakeside Hospitals and Texas Children’s Hospital. With the addition of MD Anderson Cancer Center, The Woodlands provides top-rated healthcare with specializations and clinical programs for residents throughout the region.
Learn more about The Woodlands.