Houston-area leaders woo workers moving to Exxon Mobil’s new campus

By Bryan Kirk
Houston Chronicle

Officials with the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce and Houston Northwest Chamber, the city of Tomball, and the Klein and Spring school districts went to Virginia recently to serve up a little Texas hospitality to Exxon Mobil employees who will be relocating to the new campus in 2014 and 2015.

An estimated 3,000 employees and their families attended the “Let’s Discover Houston Fair” in late April at the Exxon Mobil headquarters for Downstream Operations in Fairfax, Va., to learn about the communities, schools and the amenities in the Greater Houston area.

“What Exxon Mobil put together to bring us there speaks volumes about the quality of employer they are; to go to that expense for their employees, to make them feel welcome and to make them feel more at ease …it’s just incredible,” said Tomball mayor Gretchen Fagan, who attended the event.

Exxon Mobil officials announced in 2011 it was closing the Downstream campus in Fairfax, and moving 2,100 employees to a 385-acre campus in Spring.

“The atmosphere was awesome. It was such a great trip,” said Sandy Barton, membership coordinator for the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce.

“Literally thousands of employees and their families, who are considering relocation, visited us at our booth.”

“The general mood (of the employees) was very positive,” Barton said.

“Most of these employees are looking at this as a positive move and they are very excited. They are looking to move into the Houston northwest area and they love the climate in Texas compared with Virginia.”

School districts

Employees obtained information about the communities and school districts in the area.

The Exxon Mobil campus is in the Spring school district.

“Spring ISD is the new home of Exxon Mobil,” said Regina Curry, associate superintendent for public relations and technology for the district.

Judy Rimato, associate superintendent of communication and planning for Klein ISD, said many employees had a lot of questions about Klein ISD and other school districts.

“We stressed the importance of choosing a quality district with the programs that would be the most beneficial to their children before choosing a neighborhood,” Rimato said.

“Many of the parents had already done their homework and were familiar with what Klein ISD has to offer.

“Others were confused about how independent school districts are organized in Texas because they have county districts in Virginia.”

Home prices

Some employees were concerned about finding a home and were impressed with the lower home prices in the various communities, when compared with home prices in Fairfax.

Maybe Tomball?

Those employees will be looking for a place to live, and with nearly 30 new housing starts in Tomball, some could become residents, Fagan said.

“One of the neat transitions Tomball is in right now is that we have areas where houses are ready to be built,” she said.

“I was looking over my notes, and one guy said he missed that small town feel, so I think the people who look to us, will look for the small town atmosphere.”

Event gets high marks

Patrick McGinn, spokesman for Exxon Mobil in Fairfax, said employees who attended the fair gave the event very high marks.

“Feedback from those who attended the fair said they appreciated the wide variety of information that was available about the amenities, services and lifestyle opportunities available in the Houston area,” McGinn said.