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The Ups & Downs of a Boom Town

Amazing growth creates new challenges for Odessa
ODESSA -- Because of the oil boom, Odessa is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. For those who lived through the 80's, you would think this time around wouldn't be quite so shocking. But come to find out, at least for some, that's far from the case.

"I first moved to Odessa in 1948 which is over 60 years ago," said Odessa Mayor Larry Melton. "I've never seen the growth that we have right now."
   
Although the U.S. Census Bureau says Odessa's population is just below 100,000, Mayor Melton predicts there's between 107,000 and 108,000, which has created issues Odessa has never seen before. "Housing issues, apartment issues, traffic issues, water issues, of course, tops the list," said Mayor Melton. "We just continue to see issues popping up that we've never had to face before..at least not all at the same time."
   
Although the city knew oil prices were going up when the boom started, the mayor says he never saw this coming. "I don't think anybody could've been prepared for this type of growth," he said.
   
For a lot of businesses and employees, it's meant shifting their focus.

Guy Andrews is the economic development director for the Odessa Chamber of Commerce. His job would typically be to recruit businesses to Odessa to diversify their economy, but that's no longer an issue. "During the boom, our function here has changed a bit to where we're really helping people find locations," said Andrews.
 
With an addition of over 1,700 businesses just this past year, his plate has been full. From commercial to retail, residential, and more, the growth is being felt across the board. But the majority...you guessed it...are oil-related.

"We're the envy of many people in the United States that are coming here to find work where they can't find it anywhere else," said Andrews.

So what happens if the boom goes bust? Andrews says with roughly 155,000 producing wells, there will be plenty of work to go around. The plan, of course, is to continue to drill. But if that slows down, there will still be a lot of wells to service. Because of that, Andrews anticipates the economy will be booming for quite some time.
   
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