Over 66 percent of Midland is under 40
The City of Midland is growing, particularly its population of young people.
Over 66 percent of Midland’s population is under age 40, and the city’s largest demographic is the 0-4 age group, Mayor Lori Blong said in the 2023 State of the City address at the Bush Convention Center on April 19.
Also expanding is the city’s economy, with employment growth of 11.4 percent since just last year, and wage growth up by 13.9 percent during the same period, according to the mayor. The strong economy is in part connected to a 366 percent increase in Permian oil and gas production over the last 10 years, she added.
“While this is not an industry presentation, we cannot separate the oil and gas business from Midland, Texas,” she said.
In her speech, Mayor Blong called for vigilance amid the prosperity, and for continued and enhanced collaboration among government agencies, businesses, community leaders and organizations to ensure responsible growth that meets the needs of citizens, including the growing population of young people.
“We are standing at an inflection point, a key point in history.”
“We have to pay attention to the growth that is taking place, the kids that we’re raising and the place that we’re making for them educationally, for their success in literacy, for their success in workforce training in our community,” the mayor said.
While economic growth provides a sense of “excitement, this feeling of driving forward,” local leaders must “respond appropriately,” the mayor said. An effective government is needed to address the essentials, but “we want to free the corporate world and our local economy to move itself forward,” she added.
“We want to facilitate, we want to resource, we want to be what is needed to undergird a strong and healthy economy as a community,” Mayor Blong said. “Institutions and governments are made to serve people. People are not made to serve institutions and governments.”
Mayor Blong praised the public-private partnerships that have helped fuel expansion of infrastructure and resources in the community. As an example, she mentioned the collaborations leading to the groundbreaking this year of the Behavioral Health Science Center between Midland and Odessa. The mayor noted how the project, which will provide inpatient and outpatient mental health services, was made possible by a wide variety of partners, including Midland Memorial Hospital, Medical Center Hospital, local universities that will train the facility’s future workforce, and the Permian Strategic Partnership, a first-of-its-kind collaboration of 17 energy companies operating in the Permian Basin that works with local leaders to make impactful community investments.
The mayor also lauded numerous city-county partnerships that have built new roads and expanded to new areas. And she expressed excitement over plans to establish Midland Centennial District, a downtown entertainment district where streets can more easily close for markets, and which will provide incentives for continued development.
Collaboration isn’t just needed in development of buildings, but also in the development of Midland’s youth. The mayor stressed the importance of partnerships that continue to advance workforce training opportunities for young people. She also announced the formation of a task force that will convene representatives of the school district, law enforcement, the courts and community leaders to identify solutions to issues surrounding safety and discipline at schools.
“We are standing at an inflection point, a key point in history,” Mayor Blong said. “Will we continue the pathway that we’ve been on for much of my life in Midland, in which we make hay while the sun is shining, we take advantage of commodity prices and enjoy the prosperity of the moment? Or will we pivot our perspective and truly invest into the future of this community that we love? Will we begin to see Midland as worth our investment? I ask you right now to make a decision to continue to participate with us, to continue to move Midland forward.”
Mayor Blong’s State of the City was well received in the community. Ryder Booth, vice president of Chevron’s Mid-Continent Business Unit, commended the mayor’s call for collaboration on key issues, according to the Midland-Reporter Telegram.
“Having been in office for only a short period of time, Mayor Blong demonstrated a profound command of knowledge about the city of Midland and the key issues in front of us.” Booth said in comments made to the Midland-Reporter Telegram. “Her call for a higher level of collaboration and to grow our public and private partnerships to improve our city was inspiring.”