Picture this if you will. A sleepy little town in Northwest corner of North Dakota passes through its days in peace and serenity. It struggles daily to find enough funds to keep the doors of City Hall open, much less attract new residents to its borders,which brings in additional tax revenue. Its cold long winters and dreary prairie horizons do not help in building rapport with people. This plain existence continues for a hundred years until 2006 when it all turned around for the community and suddenly the little town had more people than it had beds for them. This is the reality of being a city in North Dakota since oil was rediscovered in the Parshall Oil Field in 2006.
The Bakken formation in North Dakota is one of several shale gas reserves in the USA exploding on the scene when a new technique to extract the substance, called hydraulic fracturing, started being widely employed. Oil and gas companies, being pushed by many who want the country to be less dependent on foreign fuel reserves, have moved into several areas of the country to make towns, and several of their citizens, rich overnight. In North Dakota alone, 2000 millionaires have said to be created since the boom began in the mid-2000s. Some individuals are bringing in 100k a month in gas royalty payments. The boom has given North Dakota a billion dollar surplus because of the new taxes and its own royalty payments.
North Dakota is now second in oil production in the USA. Texas is still number one as it has its own share of shale gas reserves around the state including one now dominating everything in the small towns in south Texas, called the Valley. We highlight five cities from these two states that have seen their fortunes change because of this oil boom. Reminiscent of the 1800 gold rush towns, all of these cities on the list are seeing the benefits of a fast expansion while suffering the pains of growth and prosperity.
5 Watford City, ND
4 Cotulla, TX
3 Minot, ND
2 Williston, ND
1 Midland, TX
Midland Texas makes the top of list. Midland is the hometown of President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush. Midland ranks first in economic growth with an increase of 14.4 percent in its GDP. This number beats all the other urban areas of the country including Houston, New York and LA (average US city GDP growth: 3.1 percent). Along with its economic prosperity, its population has swelled, making it the second fastest growing city in the nation. As with the other cities on this list, Midland has seen its list of growing pains, including housing shortages and sharp value increases in the housing market. It has reached the point where the Midland School District is investigating buying housing for its teachers to lease, because their salaries are not high enough to afford the rents or mortgages. A more worrisome development, however, are teachers leaving for the higher paying oil jobs, which makes any kind of leasing program obsolete. Midland is no stranger to oil booms. President Bush has made most his money in the Midland oil fields before the oil dried up the first time, a history lesson any of the cities on our list should mind closely. All good things come to an end!
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