The City of Hobbs and Lea County have always been resilient and capable of weathering economic hardships and coming out stronger on the other side. We know that our current economic climate is unimaginably difficult with the unprecedented one-two punch of the oil and gas downturn and the health concerns around COVID-19. The City of Hobbs and the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County (EDCLC) remain devoted to finding new, innovative ways to continue diversifying our economy while remaining steadfastly committed to retaining and growing our current businesses.
COVID-19 has unfortunately affected all of us. If you or your business are struggling financially and you are looking for resources, including loans and grants, to ease that burden, please visit the EDCLC’s site: http://edclc.org/covid19/. Additionally, the City of Hobbs has a resource page that may be accessed at www.hobbsnm.org/update.
Due to these uncertain times, the shuttering of businesses and layoffs are prominent and unfortunate realities for all of us. Due to this, we are proud and grateful for our relationships with the oil and gas exploration and production and service companies of all sizes. Those relationships have allowed the City of Hobbs and the EDCLC to reach out to those companies to show our continued support for their industry, remind the companies of the prominence and importance of the City of Hobbs and the Permian Basin, and assure them that our workforce capabilities are second to none. Recognizing all of these attributes and more, the oil and gas industry has responded. For example, in a recent conversation with Chevron’s Jeff Gustavson, Vice President Mid-Continent Business Unit said:
“We believe Chevron is well-positioned to weather this downturn, but the severe drop in the commodity price outlook requires us to take action to defer investments that would have driven near-term production growth. This includes temporarily scaling back current drilling and completion activities in the Permian. We are still fully committed to the Basin and its surrounding communities, and fully expect to increase activity levels in the area once prices recover.”
Exxon has also announced cutbacks in the Permian, but with the intention of positioning themselves for a strong comeback. Exxon’s CEO Darren Woods said in a recent statement, “After a thorough evaluation of the impacts of the pandemic and market conditions, we have worked closely with business partners to plan and execute capital adjustments that preserve long-term value, maximize cost efficiency, and put us in the strongest position when market conditions improve.”
While reports like these are positive for our community in the long run, we know it does not end the suffering of our community as businesses are forced to make layoffs and families lose livelihoods. However, we also know that Lea County is known as the ‘EnergyPlex’ for a number of reasons, including our prowess in the oil and gas industry, nuclear, and renewables. Our most important asset is our people and their willingness to get through this storm and see the City of Hobbs continue to grow and flourish.
In a recent study by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, it shows that almost 60 percent of Lea County’s workers are employed in industries that the State has determined as essential. We are still keeping America and New Mexico running. Knowing we are the EnergyPlex, the City of Hobbs and Lea County are so much more than just one industry. We are fortunate to have businesses like Urenco USA. As the only uranium enrichment plant in the United States, their essential workforce is helping to provide one-third of the enrichment services required by American nuclear power plants. We have essential workers at our medical facilities and in our grocery and hardware stores who are working to remain safe and healthy so they can assist you and your families during this time of crisis. We have teachers who are converting their entire ways of teaching to ensure our students are still engaged and growing. We have first responders who remain the frontline of defense to ensure our well-being and safety. Lastly, we have non-profits and public servants who are here to serve you every day today as they will during any other time; if you are in need of financial or any other kind of assistance, we encourage you to reach out to one of these groups for information on loans, grants, and other types of support.
The City of Hobbs and Lea County have made it throughout economic hardships before. We will do this again – together. This community is stronger than the challenges we are facing. The economy will improve, and we will be here to continue to prove why Hobbs has always and will continue to be the heart of the Permian Basin.
Sam Cobb, Mayor of Hobbs
Josh Grassham, Chair of the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County