Conroe is the fastest growing city in the nation?! That seems to be the reaction lately when talking with folks about the recent news. If you live in or around the Montgomery County area, chances are you have also heard friends, family or co-workers discussing the recent announcement that Conroe topped the list of “the fastest growing cities in the nation,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As with most statistics, parameters can be set to help hurt or aid the desired outcome, however, coming from a non-biased source certainly has turned some heads.
Growing up in the Houston area, I always saw Conroe as a “destination location” and for decades the area was known as “Houston’s Playground.” As a little kid, all I really recall about Conroe is that it had a boy scout camp that I frequented, a big body of water that my friend’s family would take their boat to and a small two lane road that connected I-45 to Highway 6 on the few weekends a year we went to Aggie football games.
Fast forward some 20 years and as I looked into multiple places to put an office for my small custom building and development company, Conroe topped the list. It had everything I needed. Close proximity to Houston and surrounding areas. A solid trade base and still close enough to work with my Houston trades. Lots of land and opportunity. On the back patio of the Woodlands (proper) which was nearly sold out. Great lunch spots. A lot of planned growth and a very determined City Council and Economic Development Corporation. A small airport with plans to expand. Well, and let’s not forget, a small oil company that had just recently announced plans for a new headquarters and potentially one of the largest construction sites in North America during that time. There were so many things going on and Conroe seemed to be a logical choice, despite all of the funny looks and thoughts about leaving “the big city” to work in “the redneck country.”
Looking back, I think the problem was always how people saw Conroe compared to Houston… just as I had seen it for nearly 30 years. It was always on the map, but off the beaten path and certainly something that just seemed too far. In fact, for years when people ask where I work or live, I would simply say “Houston” because it’s a sense of familiarity with most people. If I say “Conroe” and they know the place, I often get an interesting look. I have to tell those that aren’t from the area that we are 50 miles north of Houston, which they replay with “ahhh… ok… so between Houston and Dallas?”
Nowadays, Conroe isn’t compared to Houston. It is simply a “new Houston.” In general, Montgomery County is becoming independent with its large corporations, exploding medical districts, airport, dozens of large residential communities, thousands of new residents and more shopping and dining than you could ever know what to do with. Schools, apartments, commercial buildings and shopping centers are under construction everywhere you look. Work is seemingly plentiful no matter what job sector you are in and there seems to be a confidence and sense of pride about the area that has never been noticed before. What a great place to work and live!
So the next time you are heading north on Interstate 45, drive a couple extra minutes and come see what Conroe is all about. It is an exciting place to be and certainly deserving of the crown as The Fastest Growing City in the Nation!
Article by Matthew Reibenstein, 2017 GHBA Montgomery County Builders & Developers Division Chairman, Royal Residential