Rodney Johnson | Thursday, March 28, 2013 >>
My high school raised money regularly. We had bake sales, car washes and raffles. Of course schools in other parts of the country had raffles as well, but ours were special.
We raffled off BBQ grills.
Not your typical, tear-drop shaped grill. Not even the bigger, square grill with a big lid… nothing that you’d find at a Lowe’s or Home Depot.
I’m talking about a man-grill. A double-decker, diamond plate steel beast…
You see, I went to high school in Louisiana, southwest of New Orleans (yes, there really are towns south of New Orleans), where the entire world revolved around supporting the oil industry.
If you had a truck and some skill with welding, you were almost guaranteed a good paying job. And from time to time, the local high school would ask you to build a grill to be raffled off.
This became a point of pride for the builder, so the grills got bigger and fancier.
I’m guessing there are a lot of high schools today in the Dakotas that are getting grill donations, because they certainly have the oil boom… and all the joys and pains that go with it.
Currently rent in Williston, ND, a town at the center of the recent oil boom, is around $2,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. This is four to five times the cost of a similar unit in Fargo, ND, or even the cost of the same apartment in Williston five years ago. The town’s ability to increase the housing stock is far behind the demand for space as people flood the town.
At the same time, the unemployment rate for North Dakota is just over 3%, which is less than half the national rate. These two simple statistics should be bringing one word to mind: OPPORTUNITY.
The situation in North Dakota is being repeated near most of the major shale oil finds around the country, in areas around the Dakotas, Texas, Louisiana… even Pennsylvania.
As U.S. companies have developed efficient ways to extract the gas, oil, and other fuels, the regions that support these operations have become hotbeds of economic activity and growth. And the companies and towns involved in the long-term support structure for these industries, mostly based in Louisiana and Texas along the coast, are busy preparing for the eventual export of fuels on a level never seen before.
The migration trends of the U.S. have been dramatically affected by the shale oil boom, reversing the flow of people out of North Dakota and intensifying the migration into states like Texas. I cannot overstate the knock-on effects of this.
Yes, welders will have jobs. So will construction workers, store clerks, waiters, restaurant owners, administrative workers, teachers, high school coaches, landscapers… you name it.
When a large migration happens over a short period of time, there is plenty of pain at first, such as extremely high rent, but then the services necessary to support the migration are built. Given that this movement of people is focused on energy, which our country needs, and is eager to stop importing from people that hate us on the other side of the world, it’s hard to imagine this trend slowing down anytime soon.
So while there might be limited opportunities in Jacksonville, FL, or Detroit, MI, it doesn’t mean there are no opportunities available around the country. Just as there are busts, there ARE booms. And the shale oil boom is bringing with it the largest migration of people and cash register of business opportunities of the decade.
P.S. A warning to any that might be tempted to pursue such booms: if you end up in an oil town and find yourself buying a custom grill, be careful. They are definitely cool, but they are also heavy! Make sure delivery is included in the price.
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