Who needs Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters? That’s the sentiment of the head honcho of The Woodlands master-planned community, who believes Houston represents a “great financial opportunity.”
“Houston still has a great run ahead of us,” the executive, says Paul Layne, at a luncheon hosted by the Houston chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI). “Generally speaking, Houston is in good shape for next year.”
“We have not done a fantastic job of attracting major corporations moving here, for a whole host of reasons,” Layne notes. “We had hurricanes and we’ve had a number of issues that kind of scare people off.”
“But generally speaking,” he adds, “we are a low-priced, fantastic community, a great place to raise a family — probably the most friendly city in the country. Companies love that. We don’t have to get the Amazons, we don’t have to get the major corporations. We’re doing great with internal [job] growth.”
Layne is Central Region president of The Howard Hughes Corp., a Dallas-based real estate developer that owns The Woodlands, a 28,000-acre, master-planned community. Layne, a longtime commercial real estate executive in Houston, joined Howard Hughes in 2012. Aside from The Woodlands, he oversees Bridgeland, an 11,400-acre, master-planned community in Cypress, as well as developments in Maryland and Nevada.
While Houston needs to improve its education and transportation systems, it offers the ability to develop high-density real estate at a reasonable cost “with a great quality of life,” Layne notes.
Speaking as part of a ULI panel at the Junior League of Houston, Layne emphasized the Houston area’s healthy job growth. In October, the region added 117,800 jobs, up 3.9 percent from the same period last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In October, a daily average of 4,188 job openings were listed in Houston — more than any other place in Texas. That’s according to a review by data-mining company Thinkum of online job postings at thousands of companies.
Among the country’s 12 largest metro areas, Houston ranked first for both the number of jobs added in one year and the annual rate of job growth, the bureau reported November 23.
Those figures show the Houston area has rebounded from Hurricane Harvey and the energy slump, both of which depressed the region’s job growth.
Houston was one of 238 communities that bid on the second headquarters of Amazon, the Seattle-based e-commerce giant. Houston failed to make Amazon’s list of 20 finalists for what’s known as Amazon HQ2. Austin and Dallas were the only Texas contenders among the 20 finalists. Amazon decided last month to split HQ2 — and its 50,000 jobs — between Northern Virginia and Long Island City, New York.