(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.
In honor of UTSA's 50th Anniversary in 2019, the university is hosting Roadrunner Days Spring Edition - two weeks of semester-launching activities built around our deeply held values of student success, student involvement, community service and fun!
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
All UTSA students, faculty, staff, alums & families are invited to march as a unified community. Register here: bit.ly/2TYbHbR. Shuttles will be provided from the Main and Downtown Campuses.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy, 3501 MLK Dr., San Antonio
UTSA's John Nix invites the community to sing "Amazing Grace" and “We Shall Overcome” at 11 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The intent of this nationwide effort is to honor Dr. King's legacy and to spread a sense of community in the United States.
Locations throughout the United States
Opening Reception got exhibit featuring artists Miguel Aragon, Aaron Coleman, Sandra Fernandez, Annalise Gratovich, Marco Hernandez, Kristen Powers Nowlin, & Patricia Villalobos Echeverria
Main Art Gallery, Arts Building (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
Tracy Cowden, Roland K. Blumberg Endowed Professor in Music and chair of the UTSA Department of Music launches the UTSA 50th Anniversary Scholars Speaker Series with Music as Medicine: The Power and Influence of Music on our Health.
Radius Center, 106 Auditorium Cir. #120, San Antonio
UTSA African American Studies Program presents this series featuring Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University.
Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus)
Join fellow Runners to walk for 10 minutes on the Main Campus. The event reminds us of the importance of exercise, diet and healthy habits in protecting our hearts.
Outside the North Paseo Building, Main Campus
The annual event features authentic foods, music, dance, martial arts, shopping, games and entertainment from China, to the Indian Sub-continent, and the island nations of the Pacific. The Festival features two stages, a martial arts demonstration area, children’s hands on crafting area, anime activities, bonsai and ikebana displays, mahjong table and more.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair 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.