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EOC to provide insights on projected economic growth

January 4, 2019

The annual Economic Outlook Conference, created and produced by The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, is set for Friday, Feb. 8, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott & Convention Center. The conference will provide insights into the projected growth of the economy in Montgomery County and Texas.

J.J. Hollie, president and CEO of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, noted that there were 650 attendees at last year’s event and chamber officials expect that number to increase by 50 to 100 people.

The theme of this year’s conference is “The Pathway to Sustainable Growth,” with numerous speakers at the event, including John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Company as the keynote speaker. Hofmeister is expected to discuss key components that drive the local economy.

Hofmeister was selected by the committee, “particularly because of his experience in the industry as the former CEO of Shell Oil.”

“That energy and oil sector of the economy is very important to our region so his experience and his thoughts since he left Shell — and his opinion on the future of the industry — are really good to hear,” Hollie explained.

Aside from the keynote luncheon, the event will also feature a CEO Leadership Panel including Sallie Rainer, CEO of Entergy Texas, Inc.; Lonnel Coates, CEO of Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Charles D. Stokes, CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System; and Paul H. Layne, President of Central Region - The Howard Hughes Corporation.

“We are excited to host the conference for the 33rd year,” Hollie said. “This is a highly anticipated event. I think people can learn a lot of info from not only our keynote speaker but the CEO Leadership Panel as well.”

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, discussed the new tax reform at last year’s event and will be speaking again this year. Other speakers to note include Texas State Sen. Brandon Creighton; Gordy Bunch, Chairman of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors; Laura Lea Palmer, of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership; and Jesse Thompson, of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Speakers will discuss the local, regional and national economies.

Each year, the chamber — in collaboration with The Woodlands Economic Development Partnership — conducts a study of the largest employers (businesses with 100 or more employees) in The Woodlands and South Montgomery County area to see what employee numbers are and how they grow, Hollie noted. The results of the study are announced at the Economic Outlook Conference. Last year’s study showed that oil and gas employed 24 percent of the region and healthcare employed 23 percent.

“While oil and gas is still a huge driver for our economy, healthcare is quickly catching up and may even overtake oil and gas as the largest driver of the economy,” Hollie said. “I would not be surprised to see those numbers switch.”

The conference aims to provide businesses with concrete information that they can use moving forward into the future. With The Woodlands and Montgomery County area population expected to double in the next 10 to 15 years, Hollie noted that it is important for businesses and government organizations to make the right decisions.

“It’s a blessing of riches because we have such growth and people moving into the area and wanting to work here, but the flip side is we have to plan and prepare on how to manage that growth,” Hollie said. “How do we build roads? How do we manage our water resources? All those things, if they’re not there, if those don’t work — then you simply don’t have an economy. We’ve got to make decisions today that are going to sustain our economic growth.”

Tickets, which cost $169 for members and $199 for non-members, are available now at www.woodlandschamber.org/EOC . For additional event and sponsorship details, visit www.woodlandschamber.org/EOC , or contact Lupe Cuellar at 281-363-8106 or lupe.cuellar@woodlandschamber.org .

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