Experts discuss health care, education and economic development at Lake Conroe forum

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The Lake Conroe Region Outlook 2019 was held at the La Torretta resort on March 29, where six sets of panelists, two guest presenters and a keynote speaker gave their perspectives on local economic development topics such as residential and commercial development as well as workforce needs in Montgomery County. The event was moderated by Julie Cannon, general manager of the Community Impact Newspaper Conroe-Montgomery edition.

Health care

With physician shortages common across Texas, Sam Houston State University put a medical school in Conroe to produce more primary care doctors to serve rural communities, said Stephen McKernan, associate dean of the SHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. Meanwhile, Montgomery County Hospital District responds to calls from a growing population.

Montgomery County Hospital District Emergency Services:

  • cover 1,100 square miles
  • serves a population of 575,000
  • each year, respond to 68,000 calls

Workforce development

Lone Star College-Montgomery maintains partnerships with local independent school districts, according to President Rebecca Riley. She said partnerships make it possible to recruit more broadly and give students the chance to earn dual credits for college and skilled-trade accreditations.

“Opportunities for dual credit—college credit attainment while students are still in high school—both on the academic and workforce side, that enables students to have the most cost-effective means of college credit and start on that college pathway earlier in life.” —Rebecca Riley, Lone Star College-Montgomery President

Career education

Local ISDs offer useful programs high schoolers can choose from to earn certifications before graduation including hospitality, welding, culinary arts, cosmetology, machining, auto shop and a cyber program, said Greg Shipp, Conroe ISD Career and Technical Education director.

“[CTE] is for 100 percent of our students. It’s no longer just vocational programs; it is for college-bound students, two-year college-bound students and students who are going directly into the workforce. We like stackable credentials.” —Duane McFadden, Montgomery ISD Assistant Superintendent

Property development

Residential and commercial development continues to increase in Montgomery County, spurring the need for new water, energy and transportation infrastructure.

“Trails are the No. 1 amenity people ask for. What’s happening on local trends really shapes what we focus on. There’s a big trend skewed toward modern and contemporary. We focus on millennial buyers and what excites them and pull that into our architecture.” —Heath Melton, Howard Hughes Corp. Senior Vice President

[We plan to build] about 6,000 new homes in Conroe and Montgomery County over the next few years. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not considering we’ve got 600,000-plus people living here, and they’re expecting that to double in the next 15 years.” — Jeff Dewese, Signorelli Company Development Manager

 

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Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.
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