Economic summit forecasts growth in Montgomery, Conroe and Willis

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Growth and development in Conroe, Montgomery and Willis were the focal points of the inaugural Lake Conroe Summit 2017, which was hosted by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce on March 31.

The summit included three panel discussions with local experts who spoke on topics related to education, employment, infrastructure, mobility, commercial and residential development.

Steve Spillette, CDS Community Development Strategies president, served as the keynote speaker and presented the findings from a study the company conducted this year for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, which forecasts the growth of the Lake Conroe area out to the year 2045.

“[The Lake Conroe area] is growing at a significantly faster rate than the Houston metro area overall, which is saying a lot because the Houston metro area has been one of the fastest-growing areas in the entire nation,” Spillette said. “So the fact that you are actually ahead of the entire metro area really speaks to how fast you’re actually growing.”

Population, housing projections

The Lake Conroe area is expected to gain approximately 18,000 new residents by 2022 and 221,947 new residents between the years 2025 and 2045.

“To put that into perspective— 250,000 residents in the Lake Conroe area—that’s the metro area population of Amarillo,” Spillette said. “So you are basically going to be almost your own metro area. That’s a big deal.”

Study data indicates that with this growth the Lake Conroe area will experience an increase in the diversity of its population—particularly with the rise of its Hispanic population. Spillette also noted the study area will see an increase in the 65 and older population, which is likewise expected to grow in the coming years.

Over the next 28 years, Conroe, Montgomery and Willis will also likely see an increase in new multifamily housing options. The area, which has a large owner-occupied housing population, will also experience a rise in median household incomes, which is already approaching the Greater Houston area average.

“The amount of growth in the incorporated areas of those cities is considerably less than the overall study area, so a lot of your growth is going to continue to happen outside the city limits,” Spillette said.

Development on the rise

There are an estimated 83,000 new homes to be built within the Lake Conroe area between the years 2025 and 2045, and home values are expected to increase, according to the study.

“Growth is actually going out north from Conroe to the Willis area, so you can expect Willis to be the new northern frontier,” Spillette said.

According to the study, there are eight multifamily projects underway and seven planned for the Lake Conroe area. Additionally, eight retail developments are under construction and 15 more are planned.

Some of the more notable developments include City Place, located at the intersection of I-45 and League Line Road, the Conroe Waterfront Center on I-45 in Conroe, and Grand Central Park on I-45 and South
Loop 336 in Conroe.

“The retail center on the north side of Grand Central Park along Loop 336 [in Conroe]that is under construction right now will have a Kroger, Michael’s, Marshalls, and I know they’re hoping to get a Dick’s Sporting Goods,” Spillette said. “So there will be some big-name retail over there that will provide more shopping opportunities.”

Industries to watch

Roughly 86,992 jobs will be added to the Lake Conroe area between the years 2025 and 2045, according to the study.

Health care, education and industrial sectors continue to dominate the Lake Conroe area workforce and are expected to continue to grow with new development, Spillette said.

According to the study, nine office developments have been proposed for the area—which in turn will attract more white-collar employment opportunities, Spillette said. In addition, five industrial developments are already under construction and another 16 have been proposed.

Sam Houston State University will also take advantage of the growing area with plans of building its College of Osteopathic Medicine along I-45 just north of Hwy. 242, Spillette said.

“This is a great asset and osteopathic medicine is a growing sector of the health care and medical field, so it is great that you are going to have this kind of institution providing that educational opportunity right here in this community,” Spillette said.

To view the full study, visit www.lakeconroesummit.com.

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