Economic Growing Pains

By Michael Stafford
Newswest 9

West Texas crude has helped make the Permian Basin what it is today, but our economy is undergoing some bitter sweet challenges with the oil boom.
Now, local economic development officials are trying to head off some potential problems in the future.

Anwhere you look, signs of oil activity are stronger than ever and people are flocking to the basin taking jobs primarily in the oil field.  The population boom is creating lots of spin-off jobs and construction. New retail centers are popping up everywhere.  But the influx of people is creating other problems like affordable housing.

If you lived here in the 80's during the oil boom and bust, then you know the problems they had.  Today, Mike Hatley of the Midland Development Corporation told me they doing all they can to diversify the economy and create affordable housing.

"Economic development is a generational thing. We should be looking at it in terms of not what's going to happen immediately, but what's going to happen when our kids are ready to move back to Midland.  So we're setting a foundation for that and a diversified economy that  will continue into the future.  We know for folks to come to Midland, and take the positions we have available, they have to have some place to live.  We think the market for housing is gradually adjusting," says Vice President of Economic Development Mike Hatley. 

The MDC also has its work cut out for them trying to retain employees at area businesses as folks do leave for those higher paying oil field jobs.  Hatley says he travels out of town to recruit, and he visits local colleges to spread the message of the basin's benefits.

Hatley adds, "We realize those problems.  We understand those problems.  We're trying to recruit talent and individuals to Midland virtually everyday that we're on the job."

Ironically, it's during these fantastic times of low unemployment and growth that Hatley says we have to spending more and more cash trying to bring people here and keep them here.