SEED board discusses oil and gas impact

The economic impact study of the oil and gas activities in the West Texas Energy Consortium region has been completed and was discussed at the SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) board of directors' meeting held Monday.Counties within the region are Nolan, Scurry, Fisher, Martin, Howard, Mitchell, Glasscock, Sterling, Reagan and Irion. The neighboring counties included in the study are Taylor, Coke, Runnels, Coleman, Brown and Tom Green. The study takes a look at the 2012 year and gives an outlook toward the year 2022, in which SEED's executive director Ken Becker discussed the highlights of Nolan County. Significant increase is anticipated in the financial impact within the county as well as a doubling of full-time employment.He gave a brief recap of a recent Consortium meeting, in which workforce was a topic of discussion in regards to hiring. The goal is to get into school districts in order to show students that the industry is a long-term venture that can offer job and financial stability.Becker also shared in his report that Sweetwater has been selected as part of a group of economic development organizations that the Union Pacific Railroad wants to meet with. The organizations span from Louisiana all the way to New Mexico.In her monthly update, Marketing/Admin. Director Kirstin Smith presented the preliminary budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Among the items highlighted were means for storing maps, traveling, ads and sponsorships, technology updates, the new business park and development. A budget proposal will be given at the July meeting.Recaps on several meetings attended by SEED staff were given, including a meeting with Avenger Air manager Bob Elliot. The local airport has seen some increase in traffic from the oil and gas industry, and the hope is to be able to integrate into the community and conduct some marketing with SEED.In addition, information is being obtained to work with the Sweetwater Country Club board regarding memberships and hosting business meetings. It was also noted that the High Ground of Texas, in which Becker is the chairman, is searching for a new executive director. Furthermore, the terms for two SEED board members are set to expire in September. Bill Johnson will be wrapping up his second term and could return for a third and final term, while David Welch will be completing his first term.Also during the meeting, the April 2014 financial statements were reviewed and approved, in which a 3.9% unemployment rate was noted for the county. The payment of accounts payable were approved, while the minutes for the May 2014 meeting were approved as well.