Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Harper County communities, like Anthony, are trying to cash in on the area's oil boom now and are hoping it doesn't go bust later.
Anthony café owner Jade Wootonn says business is good in town. Wootonn says the café expanded its business hours to accommodate the new oil workers.
Wootonn says, "Business has picked up a lot. There's a lot more traffic in town. There's a lot more people, a lot more going on…mostly the oil people."
Folks in town can see the difference since the oil boom.
Several oil wells have been drilled in the area. It’s bringing oil field workers to town, and they need a place to stay.
Anthony Motel Owner Kathy Smith says, "And that's where we get our business. This company comes and then they leave and another company comes in. So steady traffic that way brings a lot of people through town."
Anthony has three motels and a bed and breakfast. Kathy and Eric Smith own the Anthony Motel.
The Smiths and other investors are building a new 45-room hotel on the town’s north side.
"I think it's got potential for long term success," says Eric Smith.
Some might wonder if it’s a good idea. What is ‘boom’ today could be ‘bust’ later.
Economic Development Council Director Mike Lanie says, "With a boom, you usually have a bust. And with the new technology of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking, I have all the confidence in the world this thing will be here for several years to come."
If the oil economy continues to grow like many here expect it to, no doubt we'll see more construction like this.
Digging deeper, the motel in focus is just the tip of the iceberg of Anthony’s land rush. Land from the Anthony Downs Racetrack, which closed two years ago, is expected to be sold and turned into a housing and commercial development. The racetrack’s barn is set to become another 40-room motel for oil field workers. Realtors say between 20 and 25 houses could also be built on the grounds.