City of Andrews Forms a Diversification Think Tank

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

The buzz word at Andrews City Hall is diversity. The dropping oil economy means officials are trying to find an industry, other than oil and gas, to wrap their hands around.  A new project has pulled business leaders in Andrews together looking for a solution. And so far, they've discovered what they have to offer to our West Texas business community.

It's a city with about 80% of it's businesses somehow related to the oil and gas industry. But with a slowdown, city leaders have launched a new project aimed at bringing in new opportunities to Andrews.

"Things are slowing down," Wesley Burnett with the Andrews Economic Development Corporation, said. "We've had some cutbacks and things like that."

Those cutbacks prompted the city to re-evaluate. They've designated about five local business leaders who will focus on bringing in different types of businesses to Andrews.

The group has narrowed in on three main industries: hazardous waste, manufacturing, and distribution.

"Also with L.E.S. and the Uranium Enrichment facility going on at the state line in New Mexico, we feel like we'll benefit in the future with spinoff industries from that," Burnett said.

Jose Gonzalez is an Andrews native. He works at the Odessa College Business and Technology Center branch in Andrews, helping traditional and continuing education students find their place in the local business market.

"It's going to attract people to come to Andrews," he said. "There are job opportunities available. Waste Control and the Natural Enrichment Facility should help us a little bit."

The city has set aside 50 acres for new businesses not related to oil or gas, and it's already working. A fiberglass and chemical distribution center just moved in.

"We have free land available for businesses looking to relocate or expand," Burnett said. "All the infrastructure is in place. It has great access to the major highways."

Officials say with that easy access, plus the low traffic volume, Andrews is a great spot for distribution centers.

"Anything we can do to maybe stimulate something outside the box to get them to look at our area and look at Andrews specifically, that's what we're wanting to do with that group," Burnett said.