'Mattress Mack,' Woodlands leaders talk economic outlook, post-Harvey Houston

Growing job diversification, economic rebound and Houston's recovery post-Hurricane Harvey were the key talking points from Feb. 16's Economic Outlook Conference hosted by The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce. Here are a few highlights from the event:

As the area recovers from the oil and gas downturn of 2014, job diversification has been a major key to economic growth.
Laura Lea Palmer, vice president of operations for The Woodlands Economic Development Partnership, said the Houston area has been experiencing a "bathtub recovery" in the energy industry—a sharp decline, a long plateau then an eventual recovery. However, the area has seen significant growth in the health care industry, with the number of health care jobs more than doubling from 4,270 in 2013 to 8,625 at the start of 2018.

As sales tax slows, The Woodlands has maintained revenue levels and grown hospitality services. 
The Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch gave a brief update on the township's finances during the conference. While sales tax revenue growth has slowed over the past six years due to an increase in surrounding retail options and competition with online sales, Bunch said the township has seen growth in other revenue-driving industries. For example, the township's hotel occupancy tax collections have grown by 34 percent since 2013, totaling $8.7 million in 2017.

Companies are paying close attention to recent changes to the U.S. tax codes.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, was a key player in moving forward the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law Dec. 22 by President Donald Trump, overhauling the nation’s tax code. Many of the reform’s changes took effect immediately, including a lower corporate tax rate that Brady says will encourage large corporations, such as Exxon Mobil and Anadarko in The Woodlands, to bring overseas operations back to the U.S.

Despite the economic and environment challenges of 2017, the Houston area banded together to recover. 
The event concluded with a keynote address from Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale. Most recently known for his philanthropic work during Hurricane Harvey, McIngvale has been recognized by several organizations in the past six months for opening up his Houston locations of Gallery Furniture as shelters during the storm and helping to organize the outpour of volunteers and donations that followed in the weeks after.

"Hurricane Harvey represented the worst of times in Houston and The Woodlands and Port O'Conner and all over Texas, Beaumont and Baytown—it was a nondiscriminatory flood," McIngvale said. "It was the worst of times. But it was also the best of times because for one brief moment of time, all of us came together. Whether you were right-wing or left-wing, it didn't matter; we all came together to care about people."

Watch all of McIngvale's speech on our Facebook page here. 
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


MOST RECENT

Premier Select sells collectable, vintage and luxury shoes. (Courtesy Premier Select)
Shoe, vintage apparel store Premier Select coming to The Woodlands Mall

Premier Select will have a grand opening on Aug. 6.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Texas Medical Center coronavirus updates: Testing positivity rate continues to climb, surpassing 11%

Between July 26 and Aug. 1, an average of 11.5% of patients tested positive for COVID-19.

Wildcat PPE opened at 301 S. Trade Center Parkway, Conroe in June 2020. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
INVESTIGATION: Wildcat PPE’s lawsuits, layoffs highlight faulty federal procurement process under pandemic

Wildcat PPE became the fourth-largest employer in Montgomery County virtually overnight but now faces accusations of poor quality products and unpaid invoices.

Mahesh's Kitchen, an upscale Indian restaurant, is preparing to open in Sugar Land Town Square near the end of August. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Upscale Indian restaurant coming to Sugar Land; Freebirds Tex-Mex to open in The Woodlands and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area, including that E-bikes will not be permitted on The Woodlands Township pathways.

Magnolia Medical Specialists will be located on FM 1488. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Site under construction on FM 1488 for Magnolia Medical Specialists

Work is underway on Magnolia Medical Specialists, a medical building being built on FM 1488 near the Marcel Town Center.

student writing on paper
Texas Legislature allows parents to opt for students to repeat grade levels or courses

Senate Bill 1697 is effective for the 2021-22 school year.

Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null announced during a YouTube update on July 28 tat that students, faculty or parents who test positive for COVID-19 are not allowed to come to school. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Conroe ISD officials: Individuals with a positive COVID-19 test will not be allowed to enter district schools

Superintendent Curtis Null said the district was granted the authority after state officials updated policies.

Early morning paving work will take place on Kuykendahl Road the week of Aug. 2. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Early morning paving work planned on Kuykendahl Road in The Woodlands on Aug. 2-6

Early morning paving work will take place on Kuykendahl Road between Lake Woodlands and Bay Branch drives in The Woodlands from Aug. 2-6.

The studio opened on July 13 in Magnolia. (Courtesy Woodland Lane Ceramics & Art Studio)
Woodland Lane Ceramics & Art Studio opens on Sweetgum Lane in Magnolia

Owners Kinsey and Jesse Lane opened Woodland Lane Ceramics & Art Studio on July 13.

The Tomball ISD board of trustees was named the Region 4 School Board of the Year for the 2020-21 school year by the Texas Association of School Administrators School Board Awards Program. (Courtesy Tomball ISD)
Tomball ISD board named Region 4 School Board of the Year

The Tomball ISD board of trustees was named the Region 4 School Board of the Year for the 2020-21 school year by the Texas Association of School Administrators School Board Awards Program, according to a July 15 release from the district.

Vert will be a sister location of Piney Rose. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Piney Rose announces sister store for Market Street

Vert is anticipated to open this September.

The Round Top Collection Gallery has started offering its fall collection. (Courtesy The Round Top Collection Gallery)
The Round Top Collection Gallery announces relocation to Oak Ridge North

The store is relocating from its Market Street location to Oak Ridge North, next to Whiskey Cake.