2009 came roaring in on the heels of a crazy economic 2008. Those of us in Montgomery County have not felt the burn as much as other parts of the country. We did see a slight slowdown in sales, development and in our economy during the last quarter of 08.
In looking back on what has occurred in commercial real estate in Montgomery County, certainly all is not bleak. We saw a lot of new strip centers and large retail centers opening up in 2008. While the lease rates slowed a bit, large anchor tenants were secured and are now up and running.
South County saw a great deal of commercial activity especially in new office building space being constructed on several sites. South County also continues to see strong retail sales with the amount of retail leases remaining steady.
In the Conroe/Willis area tremendous retail growth is evident. The Montgomery corridor along Hwy 105 showed a very positive growth in the retail sector with many new businesses locating to the new lake retail development.
Of course East County is sitting in a strong position for potential commercial growth. The East Montgomery County Improvement District along with the developers have ironed out the details regarding Earth Quest Adventures, the 150-acre dinosaur park and 50-acre museum that is scheduled to be completed by 2012. As this park takes shape, we should begin seeing more land sales throughout this year and beyond.
Another commercial market area that is showing a positive growth is the building of many new multi-family units in the area. As residential sales slowed, multi-family developers are seeing an opportunity to build new units throughout Montgomery County. Currently there are several new sites in the Conroe area with developers looking for other possible sites.
We are awaiting the statistics on the Texas economy from the State Comptroller's office. Those numbers will be interesting to look at to help make projections for 2009. For those of us in Montgomery County, a slight slowing in retail growth right now should begin to increase gradually throughout 2009.
Montgomery County is quite attractive to retail developers, multi-family developers and land developers. All of the economic forecasts for our area indicate that these developers are still looking at the area and planning to continue on with development plans.
As those of us in Montgomery County look forward to 2009 being a stable area, these statistics from the State Comptroller's office are very encouraging:
- In the 12 months ending in November 2008, Texas gained over 221,200 jobs, more than the combined total from the other 14 states that gained jobs.
- Over last 12 months, Texas accounts for 71 percent of entire job gains for all states with gains.
- In the past five years, Texas added 1.29 million new jobs to our economy.
- From November to December 2009, the U.S. economy lost 524,000 jobs. The U.S. is down 2,589,000 jobs for 2008. Texas gained 7,300 jobs in November.
- Texas' unemployment rate in November 2008 was 5.7 percent. The December U.S. rate was 7.2 percent, up significantly from a year ago (4.9 percent).
- The Texas unemployment rate has been at or below the national rate for 23 consecutive months.
Montgomery County continues to attract many new businesses to the area and based on the statistics above, we should be looking at this trend to continue in 2009. I am looking forward to good things for Montgomery County and am very thankful to be here during theses interesting times in our national economy.