(Nov. 16, 2015) -- In a new study published in The Journal of Regional Analysis & Policy, Thomas Tunstall, research director of the UTSA Institute for Economic Development, describes how regions affected by the oil boom in the Eagle Ford Shale can avoid becoming ghost towns after the revenues dry up.
“There may be 1,000 or more ghost towns in Texas,” Tunstall said. “We have to figure out a way to keep the communities that are still here viable.”
In his new study, Tunstall looks at several Eagle Ford Shale counties and towns whose fortunes have been made since the oil boom in the past five years. And though the area could continue producing at a high rate for years, the key to sustaining an economy in previously sleepy towns is to use that extra money to diversify the local economy. That way, when the price of oil falls or, far into the future, the oil dries up, the town remains economically stable.
“We saw what happened to Houston in the 1980s when oil prices dropped,” Tunstall said. “In a lot of cases, people were packing up and leaving. It’s completely avoidable.”
He used the example of Gonzales, Texas as a town that prospered from oil production. It has also diversified by making itself a tourist destination as the birthplace of the Texas Revolution.
“One way to do it is to look at the reason the town is there,” he said. “Sometimes a town becomes a ghost town because a highway or rail line bypassed it, or in many cases farming community became unnecessary because of the widespread mechanization of agriculture.”
Some towns in the Eagle Ford Shale have looked into becoming Free Trade Zones, allowing manufacturing companies to come in and operate without tariffs. Tunstall’s colleagues in the UTSA Institute for Economic Development also analyzed the town of Asherton, Texas that is diversifying by taking advantage of a crop that hadn’t been previously singled out as a commodity in Texas: olives. The state now produces about 54 tons per year. In 2002, it wasn’t producing any.
“Gonzales, Karnes City and Pleasanton have all done a great job of fostering economic development,” he said. “Some cities haven’t, either because their governments just aren’t in sync or they’re just disorganized. We hope that these cities take the opportunity to steward the additional tax revenue they’ve received, because nothing lasts forever.”-----------------------------
Read Thomas Tunstall’s study in Regional Analysis & Policy.
Learn more about the Institute for Economic Development’s Eagle Ford Shale Community Development Program.
Learn more about the UTSA Institute for Economic Development.
Experience a fun, interactive week at UTSA as new students and their families take the first steps to becoming a Roadrunner.
Various locations, Main Campus and Downtown Campuses
Throughout the summer, UTSA offers more than 60 camps in science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, language, culture and more.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
This event guides seniors and graduate students on the last phase of their college career and prepares recent alumni within one year of graduation for the world of work. Workshops and sessions will provide information on interview skills, job search strategies and networking.
Student Union, University Career Center, 2nd floor, Main Campus
The gala brings together UTSA alumni, friends and guests to celebrate the association's 41 years of scholarships, services, programs and the 2018 Alumni Award recipients.
Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr, San Antonio
As part of the citywide Kidcation and the ITC's free second Sunday, kids and families will have an opportunity to interact with cowboy docents, practice their skills at roping, learn about life on the cattle drives, make their own spurs, grab a seat for cowboy story time and work on cowboy-themed hands-on crafts.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Dozens of fun and free events to welcome new and returning Roadrunners.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The kickoff to Roadrunner Days, the UTSA community welcomes the thousands of students who move in to their new homes as they begin their journey at UTSA.
Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall, Main Campus
After a full day of moving, UTSA students and their families are invited to the party featuring food, swag, dancing and a special performance from the Spirit of San Antonio marching band.
Student Union Paseo, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.