By Mitch Borden
Midland is growing at a fast rate, as the oil and gas industry continues to thrive in the Permian Basin. But residents and local leaders are beginning to question what needs to be done to make the Tall City a place where more people want to live.
A new economic impact study released by the Perryman group gives residents a picture of how the city will grow if it begins to make some dynamic shifts.
According to Doctor Ray Perryman, the President, and CEO of The Perryman Group, it’s likely going to be a long time before drilling really slows down in the Permian Basin. The fate of Midland, on the other hand, may not be so sunny if things don’t change. At an early unveiling of the report looking at Midland’s future, Perryman explained the findings to a group gathered earlier this week at Midland College.
One of the biggest conclusions presented is Midland needs more affordable housing. Without it, job shortages in key areas will continue, such as education and healthcare.
According to Perryman, “The reason we can’t get enough teachers or nurses is they can’t afford to live here because we don’t have an adequate supply of affordable housing.”
At the lower end of his estimates, Perryman predicts the city will need around 16,000 more houses and about 10,000 more apartments. He also forecasts the city’s population could get up to over 280,000 residents by 2030. That’s an increase of about 111,000 people to the city’s metro area.
These numbers may seem high. Perryman explained that’s because his findings are “aspirational.” The report used models that assumed the city will make critical improvements to the quality of life of residents, the region’s infrastructure, and local schools — among other things. If that comes true, Perryman believes Midland will see huge growth.
The challenges facing Midland may seem daunting, and Perryman knows they can’t be fixed over night. But, he said, “These things take time to do, but I think the key thing is it’s time to get started.” Perryman continued, “It’s time to get moving and start thinking about what needs to happen.”
The choices made now will determine whether or not Midland becomes more of an extraction colony for oil and gas or a world-class city, but according to Perryman, it’s up to residents and elected officials to choose how they want to move forward.
The complete study should be released by September, but a synopsis can be found here.