As 2023 begins, following a trend professionals in The Woodlands, Texas and the greater Houston area are just beginning to see, some are seeing a number of announcements from companies relocating or expanding their presence in the region, including some from California.
According to the Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership, as of 2019, The Woodlands saw changes across employment sectors as energy companies reduced their presence or moved out of the area and healthcare employment increased as businesses expanded.
Economic experts in the region note that these factors, as well as factors such as a favorable business environment, have increased the attractiveness of the region for many foreign companies, especially in the life sciences sector.
A 2022 study by Stanford University's Hoover Institution found that at least 132 businesses moved from California to Texas in 2018-21.
That's more than four times the second-highest number of actions in California, Tennessee, which had 31 corporate actions.
Gil Staley, chairman of The Woodlands Area EDP, said interest from science and technology companies is creating new businesses in the area that George Mitchell and The Woodlands founders originally envisioned for such companies.
"We see this as a rebirth of the research forest [corridor]," Staley said.
In 2022, two California life sciences companies announced they will relocate their headquarters or establish a presence in The Woodlands.
Cellipont Bioservices, which develops and manufactures cell therapies for other companies, opened a 76,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in November at 9501 Lakeside Blvd.
Work also began in late December on a suite for Nurix Therapeutics at 8800 Technology Forest Place as part of a larger life science complex.
Joel Marcus, CEO and founder of Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., the California-based company developing the complex, said the campus will be about 318,000 square feet when complete.
The first phase will be completed in the first quarter of 2023.
"There will be nothing like this in Houston, on a uniquely safe and accessible campus," Marcus said.
field of life sciences
In an area once home to energy companies like Anadarko, the energy sector's share of non-retail jobs among large employers has fallen from 27% to 8% since 2019. By the beginning of 2022, healthcare accounted for more than 30%. According to The Woodlands Area EDP.
This growth in health care is part of what makes the region attractive for life sciences, said Kathy Pryor, chief development officer and senior vice president of membership for the Greater Houston Partnership, the region's future events hub.Houston Dec. 12. 13.
"Increased interest in economic development in the region, particularly in Montgomery County, has recently created tremendous opportunities for innovation and growth in the industrial and technology sectors," Pryor said at the event.
California-based companies have taken note, and Deborah Wilde, president and CEO of Cellipont, said The Woodlands is a good fit for the company, both financially and logistically.
"We did a regional analysis … and found that economically the wooded area is a great location for workers," Wilde said. "When schools are good, staff stay longer. This is a beautiful and safe place."
Stella Vnuk, Cellipon's chief scientific officer, said the area is ideal for companies like Cellipon because of its proximity to the Texas Medical Center and Houston-area airports, as well as its growing scientific research and innovation community.
Texas is also a central location within the country and an important factor in the rapid transport of sensitive biological materials over long distances.
"A lot of innovation is coming from the Texas region. … It is very important for us to further develop and expand cell therapy in this very important region,” said Vnuk.
Wilde said the company has 70 employees in San Diego, and although some executives will relocate, most of the new hires will be local. Once fully completed, he plans to add a manufacturing component to the site, which will employ about 200 people, he said.
A larger complex is planned for the Technology Forest location, formerly occupied by Lexicon Pharmaceuticals and moving to Technology Forest Boulevard.
The former 260,000-square-foot campus will be transformed into a life sciences campus that will offer more than 300,000 square feet of office and laboratory space, as well as meeting rooms, a fitness center and courts, according to Sarah Kabakoff. . . Vice President of Strategic Communications, Alexandria.
“We chose The Woodlands to redesign and develop a unique, mission-critical, multi-tenant, co-working campus under the Alexandria brand that will bring to the Houston area market a highly convenient and secure workspace for the first time: a vibrant environment for life. sciences and other advanced technology companies, Marcus said in an email.
The first company to announce plans to lease space in the area is San Francisco-based Nurix Therapeutics. According to The Woodlands Area EDP, the company held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project on December 13. According to Alexandria, the company is working on protein modulation for cancer treatment. The company will operate its own research and development facility in the country.
Jim Carman, president of The Howard Hughes Corp.'s Houston region, said 33 businesses plan to relocate or expand within their leases in The Woodlands by 2020, representing more than 500,000 square feet of office space and 2,000 new residents. works. after.
Howard Hughes leases space on the 31st and 32nd floors of The Woodlands Towers to The Waterway, formerly Anadarko Towers, which it purchased in late 2019.
The tower at 9950 Woodloch Forest Drive will house several new corporate headquarters or offices, including Obagi Cosmeceuticals, which is moving from California, and Centric Infrastructure Group, which is moving from The Woodlands. New York cryptocurrency firm NYDIG is also setting up office space there.
"Over the past few years, we've definitely seen a diversification of our client organizations," Carman said. "One of the most interesting ones is really some of the companies in the renewable business space."
These companies include Lancium Technologies, which is moving from Texas to an entire floor of The Woodlands Towers in 2022. The company works with renewable energy infrastructure and technology.
Other tech companies moving from The Woodlands include SmartDraw Software, which is moving from California to Hughes Landing in 2022, and chemicals and pharmaceuticals company SI Group, which is moving from New York in the fall, according to Howard Hughes Of.
Although many companies are moving to remote work, the need for office space is still great, Carman said. Office leasing in The Woodlands was more resilient than in the greater Houston area during the third quarter, with The Woodlands having a 23.3% vacancy rate of 16.6%, according to real estate brokerage Colliers.
Businesses moving to The Woodlands are also drawn to the community's proximity to jobs and services, he said.
"These companies' real estate needs haven't changed significantly. They need the same square footage," Karman said. “The difference is more focus on comfort. When our employees come to the office, we give them more reasons to be there than just a paycheck and a desk.
Prepare future employees
Companies moving to The Woodlands will primarily hire locally, Staley said.
"They want to see a very well-trained workforce to hire," Staley said.
According to the Census Bureau's 2021 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates, 64.3 percent of Woodlands residents age 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to the national average of 33.7 percent.
According to him, the presence of companies in new fields, such as life sciences, can also help advance educational programs.
Staley said EDP plans to begin discussions with the Lone Star College System in early 2023 to discuss life science programs.
LSCS deputy director Linda Head said plans could include courses for medical labs and production technicians, as well as cleanroom courses and continuing education for employees.
"We're working very quickly to design the right programs and labs and change what we need to be ready in about six months," Head said.