1/25/2012 @ 6:04PM
A Yimby Boom In A Nimby Nation
Christopher Helman Forbes Staff
When it comes to doing
doing the countrys dirty work, Carlsbad is hardly alone. Hard-pressed areas across the country are coming to the grown-up conclusion that they will never become hotbeds for venture capital or attract Stanford or Google (or even Toyota) to open a satellite campus. Instead, theyre inviting indestructible and inescapable industries, like prisons, dumps and oil and gas drilling to townfostering Yes In My Backyard success in a Nimby nation. Theres big parts of the country that dont want to get their fingers dirty, says FORBES contributor Joel Kotkin, the renowned demographer and author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 (Penguin Press, 2010). In prime Nimby states like New York and California, says Kotkin, they dont want growth; they want asset inflation.
The dichotomy is biggest in states enjoying oil and gas booms brought about by the hydraulic fracking revolution. Since 2009 Pennsylvania has seen gas-drilling jobs explode from 60,000 to 160,000 and related economic activity jump from $4.7 billion to $13 billion a year. North Dakota has an unemployment rate of just 3.5% (lowest in the U.S.), and in the past year has seen oil and gas employment increase 39% and construction jobs 20%. In contrast, in New York State, where the state budget is an annual apocalypse and the economy is ever more beholden to Wall Streets boom-and-bust cycles, politicians still cant muster the will to shoulder the risks and allow gas fracking, though studies show it would create 40,000 jobs in some of the states most depressed regionsfor 30 years. California could solve its fiscal problems if it unlocked its oil and gas, but just try to permit anything in Santa Barbara, says Kotkin. Not everyone in America is afraid to get their hands dirty.
Here are five Yimby capitals:
Boom Town for the Bakken Shale, Williston is drawing workers from all over the nation. Oilfield hands make more than $100,000 a year. The number of drilling rigs is up fivefold in two years.
Laissez-faire zoning laws make it easy to tear down old and build new. Houstons port complex hosts massive refineries, while busy factories build the gear that feeds the shale gas boom.
Pinal County, Ariz.
It might be better named Penal for its half-dozen privately operated prisons that employ thousands. The ranks of the unemployed are swelled by families of inmates who move nearby. The county is also wooing Union Pacific to build a giant rail yard.
Governor John Kasich is a fracking fan and booster for gas drilling in the Utica Shale. Shell Oil is thinking of building a world-scale petrochem plant there, while Vallourec and ArcelorMittal have recently ramped up steelmaking.
New Orleans, La.
A cap-ex boom has followed in the wake of destruction left by Hurricane Katrina. Steel giant Nucor is building a new $3.4 billion furnace complex in St. James Parish that will eventually employ 1,000.