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Patrice Sarath

Modern boomtowns drive new construction, growth

by Patrice Sarath | Dun & Bradstreet Editor

April 11, 2012 | 4 Comments »

HousesA new oil rush has created modern day boomtowns in far-flung locations in North Dakota and New Mexico. Once sleepy burgs are drawing thousands of people in search of work. That  influx is driving construction growth and retail development opportunities in and around the booming areas.

The US Census Bureau recently named the country’s fastest-growing micro areas, which are regions containing one urban area with at least 10,000 people, but less than 50,000. The top micro areas  include several locations in North Dakota where oil drilling has spurred growth. The fastest-growing micro area in the US is Williston, North Dakota, where the population grew 8.8% from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011. Just four years ago Williston typically built five to 10 new homes a year. Now more than 2,000 permits for apartments, manufactured homes, and hotel units are issued each year.

In addition to traditional permanent construction, these booming towns are in need of quick solutions such as modular structures. Companies such as Target Logistics (which specializes in temporary housing for remote work locations), Atco, and Champion Enterprises have supplied modular units for these areas.

In Williston there are around 10,000 people living in “man camps” or temporary housing units built for oil field workers. The area’s school district is buying more than $3 million in temporary classrooms to handle a jump in enrollment. While the camps and temporary structures meet immediate needs, the town is hoping to encourage more permanent solutions.  The area’s economic development organization launched a new “Build, Baby, Build” marketing campaign that encourages builders and developers to create long-term housing and other projects.

Other top growing micro areas include several towns in New Mexico. Places such as Gallup, Portales, Alamogordo, Clovis, Grants, and Los Alamos are all in the top 50 fastest-growing micro areas. New Mexico is the state with the most towns on the list. Oil drilling and jobs tied to other energy projects such as solar and wind power projects are driving growth in that region.

The second fastest-growing micro area in the US points to a different trend. The Villages, Florida is home to a growing number of retirees. That growth has been fueled by a growing demand for people to find affordable places to retire. 

As with any boom, there usually comes a bust. The fast-growing micro areas today, could be ghost towns five or 10 years from now. Staying ahead of the boom is always critical for businesses looking to follow trends. The US Census points to Texas as a steady area for population growth and as for the next oil boom area, many are looking to Pennsylvania and Kansas, where  new technologies in oil drilling are expected to cause a boom.

The 10 Fastest-Growing Micro Areas from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau:

1. Williston, ND (+8.8%)

2. The Villages, FL (+4.6%)

3. Andrews, TX (+4.5%)

4. Dickinson, ND (+4.0%)

5. Dunn, NC (+4.0%)

6. Statesboro, GA (+3.8%)

7. Heber, UT  (+3.8%)

8. Minot, ND (+3.6%)

9. Tifton, GA (+3.3%)

10. Guymon, OK (+3.3%)

This makes me curious what the 10 fastest growing micro areas were 10 years ago & what sort of condition they are in today. Thanks for an intriguing post!

I think I can actually answer that:

None of these nine North Dakota and New Mexico micro areas was among the 50 fastest growing between 2000 and 2010. (Overall, only 18 of the 50 fastest-growing micro areas nationwide between 2010 and 2011 were also among the 50 fastest growing between 2000 and 2010).

Trying to find the exact list.


Where can I get the latest info on the oil boom towns from Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, Utah etc. It would be great to get the before, now and future real restate market info if possible. Anything you can suggest or help with would be great, thanks a lot.

Here is some information about the fastest growing cities from the National Association of Realtors
Fastest Growing Cities

Another article about Small towns and growth

Top 10 US Oil Boom Towns

Metro Area Growth/a>

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