Census's Booming Numbers Making City Plans Speed Up

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - We've all seen for ourselves just how much bigger the Basin's counties are getting. The latest census numbers back our views up.

Back in April 2010, Ector County had more than 137,000 people. By July 2011, they had more than 140,000.

Midland County, at the same time in 2010, had more than 136,000 people. By July 2011, they also had more than 140,000.

Both counties have experienced a growth of at least 3,000 people in one year's time.

What do those thousands of new arrivals to the Basin translate into?

Midland and Odessa officials call them "good problems."

Jerry Morales is not only a Midland City Council member but also a restaurant owner.

He's seen the expansion from two different worlds.

"We're seeing not only the CEO's and the presidents and the managers coming to lunch, we're seeing true oilfield workers coming in with their scrubs and their overalls," Morales said. "Our business has probably increased easily 8% over the last three months."

Odessa Chamber of Commerce President, Mike George, told NewsWest 9 the same can be said for Odessa.

"The restaurants, some of them are not even opening sections of their restaurant because they can't get enough help," George said.

Just driving on the road, people in the Basin see what this boom has done to traffic.

"Right here on the corner of Neely and Big Spring, we see two blocks of cars just backed up," Morales said.

"There's a lot more traffic than there ever has been on the streets of Odessa," George said.

Officials also said if you're looking for a place to stay, you're running out of luck.

Joint city figures reveal that as of March 2012, there are only 141 active homes in Midland County and 162 active homes in Ector County.

"Every hotel room is solid booked from Monday through Thursday and it's about 85% booked on the weekend," George said.

Those are the "good problems."

Now officials said their plans for the solutions have become much more short-term. But they said they're happy to do whatever they can to see our area grow.

"Council's talking about traffic. Council's talking about housing. Council's talking about infrastructure," Morales said. "We used to think 5-10 years. Now we're saying 3-5 years. How can we get it ready?"