UTSA: Eagle Ford Counties Must Diversify

Poverty Rates in Eagle Ford
Poverty Rates in Eagle Ford

Eagle Ford Shale counties must diversify to stay afloat, advises new university study.

Related: Eagle Ford Town Thrives Despite Oil Crisis

Over the last year, the decline in oil prices has caused a wave of bankruptcies, restructuring and budget cuts for oil and gas producers and the industries that serve them. Also at risk are the smaller counties and communities in the Eagle Ford.

The UTSA Institute for Economic Development works to foster economic development in south Texas and with the current downturn their services are needed more than ever. The agency recently published a new study in the The Journal of Regional Analysis & Policy outlining their their concern over how smaller Eagle Ford counties may fair long term due to the oil crisis.

Research director, Thomas Tunstall says “There may be 1,000 or more ghost towns in Texas. We have to figure out a way to keep the communities that are still here viable.”

Tunstall concluded that communities that avoided immediately spending their newfound oil and gas wealth are doing better than those who did not, and that those that diversified are doing best of all. The study goes on to say that good local governance and thoughtful long-term planning are the keys to future health.

Examples of cities getting it right include Gonzales, Karnes City and Pleasanton, the latter of which boasts:

  • Sales tax increases of 3.64%
  • A new building program for the Pleasanton Independent School District
  • The city is expanding water service out to Interstate 37
  • An extension plan for the Pleasanton Municipal Airport runway from 4,000 to 5,002 feet.
  • A new well-designed Pleasanton Civic Center
  • H-E-B has completed a new store
  • Atascosa Health Center is completing its new building
  • Plans to build a new fire station with EMS facilities and AirLIFE for 24/7 operations

Read more at iedtexas.org