Economic Outlook Conference 2020 in The Woodlands Highlights Local Economy

By: Rachel Norton
| Published 02/21/2020

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THE WOODLANDS, TX – “Innovative Solutions in a Diverse Community,” was the theme of the 2020 Economic Outlook Conference. The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce organizes the event annually to provide community members with insight as to how the economy is expected to perform each year.

Congressman Kevin Brady started the morning with a national update. He discussed tax reform, job growth in the United States, record low unemployment rates, the need for our country to win the innovation race, as well as factors that are halting our growth.

“The biggest obstacle of growth in America is our workforce,” he said. “Not having the workers we need is already slowing growth right now in America. It is slowing corporate growth, it is slowing small business growth … Nine of ten companies that hire blue-collar workers can’t find the workers they need. We’ve got to solve this problem if we want stronger growth over the next decade for the United States,” he said.

Gil P. Staley, CEO of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership continued the day with a community/regional update. He announced that healthcare is now the largest employment sector in our service area; growing from 24 percent in 2019 to 26 percent in 2020. The second largest employment sector is energy at 22.4 percent, and the third is education at 17.8 percent. Healthcare represents 40 percent of the Top Major Employers, with 10,027 jobs.

The Top Ten Major Employers (Non-Retail) in order are as follows: Conroe Independent School District, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center, ExxonMobil, Occidental, CHI St. Luke’s Health – The Woodlands Hospital, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital, Alight Solutions, Lone Star College – Montgomery, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, and Huntsman Corporation.

Senior Economist at the Houston Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Jesse Thompson, provided an economy update. His main conclusion: Houston’s economy in 2020 is predicted to be, “positive, modest, but certainly not booming”.

Following Thompson’s presentation, an innovation panel, compiled of four executives, discussed how the latest trends in innovation help businesses solve economic issues. Innovation panelists included: Clint Brinkley, CEO of Your Business Solutions; Ashok Gowda, president and CEO, of Biotex, Inc.; Deanea LeFlore, senior director of corporate and community engagement for The Ion; and Tony Nash, founder and CEO of Complete Intelligence.

The afternoon concluded with a luncheon where keynote speaker, Dr. Renu Khator inspired the audience with her life story. Dr. Khator is Chancellor of University of Houston System and President of University of Houston. Within three years, she was able to establish UofH as a Tier One university.

Between intelligent speakers, and numerous networking opportunities, the Economic Outlook Conference 2020 provided an enlightening and productive experience for all involved.

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