Community Series: Industry's Impact on Small Towns - 5/6/2014

Much has been written and said about the economic benefits the oil and natural gas industry brings to Oklahoma, but nowhere is this more evident than in small cities all around the state. In fact, these cities, which were once “small towns”, are now quickly becoming booming hubs for business. In western Oklahoma, Cushing, Alva, Fairview and Woodward, to name a few, are reaping the economic benefits of the oil and natural gas industry. As you drive through these towns, you can witness the ripple effect the industry has on the economy, by helping other businesses and stores thrive due to increased patronage.

“The industry is alive and well in so many of our communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb at an OERB event at the State Capitol in April. “Hotels are full, restaurants are full, gas stations are busy, dry cleaners and grocery stores are busy and it’s because the oil and gas industry is employing so many of our citizens.” 

Lt. Gov. Lamb also used Cushing, known as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World,” as another example of the economic boost the oil and natural gas industry can bring.

“There is a restaurant in Cushing called the Steer Inn. I went to the Steer Inn about four years ago for lunch and there was a decent crowd,” said Lt. Gov. Lamb. “I went to the Steer Inn about six months ago, it was packed out. Packed! Because of the oil and natural gas industry.”

The point is that the oil and natural gas industry isn’t just good for the oil and natural gas industry, but also for other businesses and development. Brent Thompson, the Executive Director of the Cushing Chamber of Commerce, says the oil and natural gas industry’s recent growth there has created more jobs, increased tax revenue and increased personal income.

“In a short five years, we have seen new restaurants, two new motels and new ancillary pipeline businesses that have sprung up and flourished,” said Thompson.

Thompson says there are 13 pipeline companies around Cushing which store up to 50 million barrels of oil a day, with the potential to store 80 million barrels. The economic benefits from having such an important hub for oil and natural gas is good for both the United States and Oklahoma, but residents of Cushing are the direct recipients.

Thompson points out a school bond issue that recently passed which will allow for the construction of a new middle school and repairs to the other buildings – all without raising property taxes on citizens. Similarly, law enforcement is also getting an upgrade.

“We have also built a new state-of-the-art Cushing Public Safety Building that now houses the City Police and Fire Department and the city was able to pay for it at no further cost to the citizens of Cushing,” said Thompson. “All in all, new businesses, city and education improvements along with improved quality-of-life assets are making a difference in the lives of Cushing residents.”

The city of Cushing is not alone. The oil and natural gas industry is improving quality-of-life for people all over the state of Oklahoma. For proof, just take a drive across the state of Oklahoma and see for yourself.