The Woodlands Economic Engine

The Woodlands Economic Engine

Commercial Development Turns the Wheel for Everyone…
by: Joanne M. Anderson /

John F. Kennedy used the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” to reference gain for all when improvements are made in the general economy. While he was addressing criticism to a dam project he initiated, one can comfortably apply it to Hughes Landing, the new Embassy Suites hotel and other commercial expansion in and around The Woodlands, Texas.

Master planned developments like The Woodlands trace their roots to Texas’ own native son, President Lyndon B. Johnson, and his multi-faceted Great Society programs initiated in the 1960s. “Many of those started and failed, and others succumbed to tough economic times, but George Mitchell [who started The Woodlands] had a unique vision for this development,” explains Bob Parsley, cochairman | Houston for Colliers International.

Mitchell himself epitomizes the American Dream. He was the son of a poor Greek immigrant who ran a shoeshine shop in Galveston. He worked his way through college, fathered 10 children and died in 2013 with a net worth of some $2 billion. His goal for The Woodlands has been realized with the tremendous growth in commercial space, providing jobs and opportunities for tens of thousands who can live, work and play in a quality lifestyle environment.

More commercial space, more corporate offices, more taxes in the municipality revenue stream, more jobs, more people, more home sales, more restaurants and retail outlets ~ the ripple effect continues right down to small business services, office supplies, furnishings, coffee, clothing and computers.

“Several master plan developments across the country consist primarily of residential neighborhoods with a smattering of offices here and there,” Parsley continues. “Mitchell could have sold frontage to big car dealers and others during economic downturns, but his vision included the significant commercial development and waterway district we are seeing now. Especially across the last decade, we have begun experiencing amazing, high class, commercial development.”

The Woodlands was established 35 years ago and spans 28,000 acres with a population topping 100,000. Jobs and workers are abundant from low-tech to high-tech, in service industries, retail, hospitality, medical, education and energy. Fortune 500 firms like ExxonMobil, Fox Networks Group, US Oncology, Andarko Petroleum and Baker Hughes occupy Class A office buildings along with smaller firms, entrepreneurial endeavors and the solopreneur. Concierge services are present for those not wishing to employ full-time office support staff.

The Woodlands is not simply a place to live or a hold a job. It’s a lifestyle environment, and the growth of corporations locating or relocating here is a testament to their comprehension of the advantages to both the company and its employees. Mixed use development at the 66-acre Hughes Landing alone includes Class A office buildings offering more than 710,000 rentable square feet, restaurants, fitness options, upscale multi-family residences, an Embassy Suites hotel, Whole Foods Market and retail outlets. Class A represents the highest quality in infrastructure, materials and aesthetics. As they command the highest rent, they also attract first-class commercial tenants.

Panoramic views of Lake Woodlands from multi-story office buildings with abundant glass and windows lend a peaceful element to any business work day. Hughes Landing office buildings are LEED silver certified and designed for maximum natural light, which enhances work performance and personal well-being, according to a study by Northwestern University.

While The Woodlands embraces the best in master plan development with nine residential villages, playgrounds, trails, water adventures like kayaking and a multitude of job opportunities, one who longs for the country can be driving past horse farms and small market stands in less than half an hour. For the city slicker who needs an occasional dose of the opera, ballet, performing arts and big city excitement, it’s a mere 27 miles from downtown Houston.

Where there once was a little engine that could, there is, in The Woodlands, Texas, a big economic engine that can ~ and is ~ forging tracks of prosperity for the benefit of all.