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1,000 wildcats, and that he and his company found upwards of 200 oil and 350 gas discoveries. I press on, “But consulting on drilling

projects is not your crowning glory, is it?” “Oh no,” says George. “It’s a long,

complex story, but I will try to make it simple. You see, as I studied the maps, I knew there was oil in places that we could not drill, due to the lack of drilling technology. I knew if we could develop a technology for drilling into the shell that is found under much of the southern United States that it would revolu- tionize the world of drilling and oil exploration.” I smile to myself—God bless this

gentleman for keeping things simple for a layman like me. I knew the technology he spoke of was not simple. I knew, too, that this discovery changed the face of the American oil and gas industry forever. T e US natural gas supply jumped 30-40 percent due to Mitchell Energy’s discovery of how to extract gas from the Barnet Shell, and his hydraulic fracturing technique to dense shale formations has been used around the world today. His unconventional thinking and unwavering determination changed the energy future for the United States and now has the potential to impact the rest of the world signifi cantly. I press on, “George, it really seems like

you guys were operating with a Wild-West mentality. Drilling, exploring, and develop- ing new technologies and territories with unbridled ambition. Do you think you could have done the same things under today’s big government mentality?“ Mitchell replies, “Oh, gosh no! It was so

diff erent back then. When I was working with that group of businessmen, we weren’t restricted by all the laws and special interest groups we have today. I don’t think entrepre- neurism as a whole will ever be the same as it was back when we had fewer restrictions and more freedom.” I move on to another subject, “So tell me

how T e Woodlands came to be.” Mitchell says, “Well, Mitchell Energy

was in the business of amassing land for the purpose of drilling, so we started a company

called Mitchell Real Estate. We began piecing together large tracts of land to the north of Houston and eventually accumu- lated 25,000 acres. At the time, (early 1960s) the government was off ering grants in the amount of $50,000 at low interest rates for the purpose of creating master planned communities to off set the ‘white fl ight’ that was taking place in cities across the US. We applied and were accepted, and that was how T e Woodlands was created. It took lots of strategic planning from lots of diff erent sources, but in the end,

the government

loaned 13 grants and T e Woodlands was the only successful planned community that grew, fl ourished, paid back the loan, and is thriving today. T e other 12 community projects went bankrupt.” Mitchell continues,

“We sold The

Woodlands in 1997 to the partnership of Crescent Real Estate Equities Co. and Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund II. It had a population of 48,000, led Houston’s market in new home sales for seven consecutive years, and was the state’s new home sales leader. Today the acreage totals 27,000, and the population is 100,000. I’m really proud of our work in T e Woodlands. Over 50 years ago, we planned for a population of 130,000. Today, we are close to 100,000 and the area is still thriving. It is a true gem.” George and his late wife Cynthia spent

many of their golden years in T e Woodlands, as well as in Galveston, and their philan- thropy and real estate ventures can be seen woven throughout every element of both communities. T e Mitchell’s dedication to education, research and development, and the communities they serve is evidenced throughout Texas. When asked about his greatest accomplishment, George is quick to mention his ten children and numerous grandchildren, but gives his wife Cynthia all the credit for rearing the large and successful family. With time for one fi nal question, I ask for

a nugget of wisdom he would pass on to the future business community. He looks me in the eye and says, “Perseverance; don’t go home empty handed.” •

TexasLiVE | Volume 6 Issue 1 29

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