Workforce issues were brought up during the recent Cline Shale Session held on Friday, December 14, 2012 at the Sweetwater campus of Texas State Technical College (TSTC).
The event was hosted by the Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development (SEED), in which SEED's executive director Ken Becker was the session host. Bill Lavers from the Development Corporation of Snyder (DCOS) was the session emcee.
Mary Ross from the West Central Texas Workforce Solutions discussed the matter, taking some information from a recent conference call regarding the Eagle Ford Shale as comparison. Workforce and employment seem to be among the largest concerns.
Other steps of action would be to obtain internet domains in order for valid information to be shared on the web and collaboration with area colleges in higher education.
Also regarding education, it was noted that a potential increase in high school dropout rates could be seen, as some students might be enticed by the potential of earning up to $40,000 without a diploma. To curb this temptation, the goal is for students to remain in school and take part in dual credit courses in order to prepare themselves as an educated employee in the future.
In addition, some areas are providing quick, eight-week courses to train drivers for no cost to address workforce concerns.
Crime was briefly discussed, in which the numbers are expected to rise. Some issues will be an increase in possible DUIs (driving under the influence). And with this oil opportunity, entities hope to promote a drug-free workforce while also promoting a drug-free lifestyle in public education.
However, the positive should outweigh the negative, as the oil exploration is not only a marketing opportunity but a chance to learn as well.
Other matters which will be impacted will be roads, the occupancy status of hotels and community events. While reports are varied, these and other issues will be learned about more in depth while the oil project continues.
In the meantime, preparations continue from a business and personal perspective. One area noted that around 1,350 applications for well sites were submitted by 90 companies, which spans over five counties.
Leaders in Snyder recently held a town hall session on the Cline Shale, with around 100 people attending. The discussions continued on the school district's website through a forum, where people can learn about particulars in the development.
Thankfully, the upcoming boom has not taken over immensely, but is slowly trickling in the area. But as plans develop, information can be presented.
"We can't capitalize on the opportunity if no one knows," said Lavers.
This story is part three of a four-article series outlining the recent Cline Shale Session in Sweetwater and its potential impact in and around the community. The session is "a roundtable discussion involving community leaders from various institutions in the region within the Cline Shale oil exploration and development area."