Exxon Mobil Corp. is planning a major expansion of its corporate campus under construction near The Woodlands, bringing thousands more workers to the area and deepening the economic impact the complex is expected to have on the region.
The oil and gas behemoth said Wednesday that an additional 2,000 employees – many from out of state – will be housed in the new development near Interstate 45 and the Hardy Toll Road.
Most of the jobs will come from the company’s offices in Fairfax, Va., where Exxon Mobil employs about 2,100 people. Additional positions will relocate from Akron, Ohio, and from around the Houston area. In total, the complex will house a workforce of 10,000 when it opens in 2015. About 8,000 are being consolidated from Houston-area offices.
The new jobs will create a “multiplier effect” on the region, said economist Barton Smith, explaining that the area could see twice as many jobs as a result of increased spending from the relocating Exxon Mobil employees.
“Clearly this is an important step for the northern metropolitan area in terms of solidifying its position as a growth area,” said Smith, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Houston.
He also notes the planned northern extension of the Grand Parkway, which is making the area more desirable for development.
Exxon Mobil has not made public exactly how much space will be built on its 385-acre tract, but it will include multiple low-rise office buildings, a laboratory and conference and training centers, as well as employee amenities like a child care facility and wellness center.
Construction is well under way, and there are more than 1,000 people working at the site.
The company’s Irving headquarters is not part of the relocation and consolidation, said spokesman David Eglinton.
The impact of thousands of new jobs moving north of town has already seeped into the housing market.
“It’s great news for The Woodlands,” said Paul Layne, executive vice president for master-planned communities at the Howard Hughes Corp., which controls development of 28,400-acre master-planned community. “Our sales are up this year and we believe it’s not only Exxon, but more specifically the improvement in the overall Houston economy.”
One of the largest new developments under way in the area is Springwoods Village, an 1,800-acre housing and commercial development adjacent to the Exxon Mobil campus.
Keith Simon, senior vice president and director of development for the project’s developer, said he’s received strong interest from grocery stores, medical providers, hotels and others for commercial tracts in Springwoods Village.
Two parcels, he said, are already under contract for new corporate headquarters. “They are companies that are widely recognized,” said Simon of CDC Houston, subsidiary of Coventry Development Corp. of New York.
Although the Exxon Mobil project is outside Houston’s city limits, the Mayor Annise Parker addressed it Wednesday in her weekly press conference.
“We are very happy that Exxon Mobil has expressed this kind of confidence in what’s available here in Houston,” Parker said.
Exxon Mobil announced the project a year ago. It did not release the construction cost, but said the development would be built to high standards of energy efficiency and provide opportunities for more employee collaboration.
Indeed, the consolidation is part of a larger trend of combining workers in offices in an effort to improve collaboration amongst workers.
The some 8,000 local employees slated to move into the new campus include most of the people who work in the company’s upstream and chemical offices, along with various support staff.
The campus will also house refining, specialities marketing, research and engineering groups from the Fairfax offices. The Akron office houses chemical operations.
In addtion, the company said Wednesday, select local relocations will come from Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Co. and Exxon Mobil Chemical Company now located at the Baytown refinery complex outside of Houston.
“Collocating them should enable greater sharing of expertise,” said Eglinton.
Chris Moran contributed to this report.