Employment in The Woodlands area has seen some growth since last year, with a total of more than 40,000 jobs reported among major nonretail employers, said Gil Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership, at The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce's 2024 Economic Outlook Conference on Feb. 16.

The total number of employees is 216 higher than the 2023 total, which was revised to 39,820 in this year's report, slightly lower than the number Staley gave at the conference in 2023. The report defines major nonretail businesses as those which have 100 or more local employees.

The annual Economic Outlook Conference is sponsored by more than 40 businesses, with Entergy as the presenting sponsor.

The region represented in the report, which includes The Woodlands, Oak Ridge North, Shenandoah, Montgomery County Precinct 3 and the Westwood Magnolia Parkway Improvement District, has seen its total number of major nonretail companies drop one from 86 to 85, with a loss of about 400 jobs, but gains were made in other areas, Staley said.

Among the top 20 companies listed in the report, most were the same as in 2023, with some gains or losses. The company at the No. 21 spot in 2023 with 441 jobs, Shell Energy Solutions, was not listed in the 2024 report. However, Invited Clubs, with 570 employees, which was not listed in the 2023 report of 100 major nonretail employers, appeared at No. 14 in the 2024 report.

What you need to know

Since 2020, the sector with the most employment in The Woodlands area has been health care, replacing energy. That trend continued in 2024, with health care taking four of the top five employer spots on the EDP list this year.
  • Conroe ISD
  • Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center
  • Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital
  • St. Luke's Health
  • Texas Children's
What they're saying

Staley said the focus on education and health care reflects the region's growing population. This is also reflected in a demand for new school construction, with a successful bond referendum taking place in Conroe ISD last year. Health care has also seen growth in regional hospitals, with expansions at hospitals in The Woodlands in recent years.

"Any time you have a surge in population that is steadily growing ... you have to do this to keep up with population," Staley said of the growth in those fields. "You’re going to see these two sectors perform well."

Before you go

Although health care and education sectors have overtaken energy as the region's dominant employers, there have been some gains in the energy sector, Staley said. Occidental Petroleum, which was at No. 11 in the top 100 list last year with 998 employees, was No. 10 this year, with 1,052 employees, according to the report. Repsol USA moved from No. 17 with 535 employees to No. 13 with 593 employees.

Overall, the health care sector has 12,527 employees in the region, according to the report, nearly a third of the area's nonretail jobs. Education, the next highest ranked in the list, has 7,529 employees.

Staley said the EDP had a record year for requests for projects from companies ranging from corporate headquarters to cell therapy manufacturing. Following the presentation, he told Community Impact four of those proposals have come to fruition.

Among other speakers at the all-day event were members of The Woodlands Township board of directors, community leaders, leadership of local companies and elected officials.