Editor Joe Baker reported in this week’s Karnes Countywide that the speakers universally expressed optimism that the long range economic impact to the communities in the Eagle Ford region continues to look extraordinarily positive.
“This is largely due to rapid advancements in technologies related to oil and gas production, especially in regard to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
“Jobs, and jobs with wages far higher than minimum wage, are a big benefit to communities as a result of the ongoing oil boom,” Baker reported. “While unemployment rates were in double digits in some communities in the region several years ago, they have now dropped to rates as low as 3 percent in some areas as a result of the development of the resource.”
In fact, Bee County’s unemployment rate in March had dropped significantly to 5.3 percent, down from 6.6 percent a year ago in March.
As it becomes clearer with each passing month that this boom will not be short-lived, such as the kind seen many years ago, Leodoro Martinez, Eagle Ford Consortium chairman, said partnerships are the key to success. He added that it is important that operators work to develop the energy resources now to build solid and longstanding relationships with the communities in which they are working.
“For many of us, those that live in the midst of everything that is happening – it is transformational,” Martinez said. “Our communities are changing and as they change so do our responsibilities and so does our ability and our necessity to identify strong leadership.”
Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar described the challenges that always come with such dramatic transformation. Among them is the sudden demand for a workforce to meet the immediate needs of the industry.
“Where are we going to be ready?” Alcantar asked. “Where are communities going to have places for people to live or where are we going to find the workers that are going to be needed? Where are we going to be able to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?”
There lies the multimillion-dollar challenge for cities in this region, especially when the price of natural gas rises and the large rigs move farther south.
What are we doing now to prepare for this “very exciting time in Texas,” which leads the country in job creation with 310,000 jobs created as a result of the boom?
An example of one such innovator is Coastal Bend College, which is unveiling its new oil and gas simulator with a ribbon-cutting ceremony today (Wednesday) at 3 p.m.
Pioneer and Marathon donor funds were used to help support the purchase of this valuable equipment for the college’s Oil & Gas Technology Program, along with other sources of revenue.
CBC’s new simulator will provide students, and their instructor Roy Coley, with hands-on industry training in oil drilling and blowout prevention.
It’s our hope that others, from the city, county, Chamber of Commerce and Bee Development Authority to private investors and entrepreneurs, are thinking ahead and will be prepared to ride this long wave of energy.