Our Woodlands. Our Future.


As of 2016, The Woodlands has over 63,000 employees with the ultimate projected at over 79,000 jobs. Dips in employment reflect the 1980s economic crisis and September 11, 2001. Also in the early 2000s, the acreage for Harper’s Landing, Grogan’s Forest and East Shore was converted to residential. The graph above was plotted using data from The Woodlands Community Facts.

The 32nd Annual Economic Outlook Conference hosted by The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce gathered local businesses, community leaders, elected officials, and corporate executives and advisors to provide valuable insight into local community developments and projected economic growth in Montgomery County and Texas. In the midst of a region that got right back on its feet after being knocked down by a devastating Hurricane Harvey, the event theme this year was “Resilient Community, Innovative Future.”


Laura Lea Palmer, Vice President of Business Retention and Expansion for The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership, discussed past and potential future economic growth in the region. She highlighted that our we are currently in a job boom and our local business economy is getting stronger, indicated not only by the large and increasing size of companies in our area, but the increasing diversity of industries here as well.

“The two things I want to point out are the size and diversity of these companies. To have companies this size is really the envy of a whole lot of other communities of similiar size. The other is diversity; you’ll notice that we’re not just energy anymore. You can see education, energy, healthcare, professional services, chemical, banking, hospitality, entertainment, and that’s just in the top 20 [sized companies],” she said.

Within the 75 largest non-retail companies in The Woodlands area, “we’ve gained 3,211 jobs this year…Are we in a job boom? We haven’t seen growth like this since 2013-2014 (3286 jobs)."

In 2013, there were 55 companies with over 25,000 jobs: energy made up 32% of jobs, professional services was 18%, education was 18%, and healthcare was 17%. In 2018, energy is 25%, healthcare is 24%, professional services is 17%, education is 15%. We’re becoming a more diverse community.

“Energy, which makes up the largest sector, is 9243 jobs. When you look at where those jobs are being added, it’s companies that have ties to exploration and production. Healthcare Is our fastest growing industry in this community. From 2013-2018, the amount of healthcare related jobs have more than doubled, growing from 17%-24%,” she explained.

“Are we in a job boom, are we busy, are we creating jobs? The answer is yes, absolutely! Even more importantly for this job boom is creating the diversity in this community that will make us a more resilient community in the future and certainly a more innovative one,” she exclaimed.


Job growth in the area over the past year has been impressive, said Gil Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership. “Despite the oil slump, we added jobs here," he said. In 2016, roughly 70 companies created more than 33,000 jobs, a number that’s up more than 500 jobs in the previous year.

Staley had been anxious to see the jobs numbers, he said. Staley told the crowd that if he had been asked a few months ago for a prediction, he might have anticipated job losses instead of growth in the three biggest sectors for the area: Energy, health care, and professional services.

The creation of primary jobs has a tremendous impact on our economy. The obvious benefit of job growth in our community is positive growth in our community’s economy, through retail and home sales. With job growth, comes population increases. Typically, with an increase in population, like we are experiencing, you hope to see two sectors grow; education and healthcare. Luckily, we see this scenario playing out. Currently, we have two acute care hospitals nearing completion; Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital and Texas Children’s The Woodlands Hospital and our education facilities are growing at a rapid pace to keep up with the student growth in our public and private schools. Another key benefit of businesses and corporations is philanthropy. Many of our charitable nonprofit organizations partner with corporations in many different ways, including financial contributions, volunteerism, in-kind donations, use of corporate facilities and access to employee expertise.

Employment options continue to grow in The Woodlands. It has been getting better and better for decades. Major corporations locating here allow our young adults to come back home to live, work and play. Both my son and daughter ultimately moved back to the area because their best job offers were here. You never know how long they’ll stay, but as a parent you hope it’s forever.

The Woodlands is also a regional hub for health care with some of the premier medical facilities in the area. Options for senior living are incredible. You see grandparents moving here to be closer to their adult children and grandchildren. We’ve seen third and fourth generation Woodlands residents who stay their whole lives because they can go from independent living to transitional living to fully assisted living without the need to move to some other place. It’s all right here.

The pace of development in The Woodlands has been much slower than originally anticipated. While the land area has increased by 60% over the years, the original development period of 20 years has increased to at least 46 years and completion of all land programmed for development is now anticipated to occur after 2020.

On October 19, 1974, The Woodlands celebrated its grand opening and the introduction of this new community to the Houston marketplace. Progress over the years has been achieved through the collaborative efforts of our employees, residents, governmental agencies, churches, civic organizations, financial institutions and business leaders who have chosen The Woodlands as a preferred location. Defining events as set forth in the following chronology have made The Woodlands unique and the achievements rather amazing.

The Woodlands was always envisioned as a “complete” community with a major employment center where one can “live, work, play and learn.” The economics of land development dictates, with rare exceptions, “rooftops first” followed by commercial development and employment. Therefore, the residential villages developed first in a counter-clockwise fashion around the future Town Center, in order to provide the supporting population and facilities needed to develop a true downtown.