If Austin is weird and Dallas is flashy, if Houston is humongous and Fredericksburg is cute, if Lubbock is young and San Antonio is cultured, what is Midland?
How about tenacious?
We are friendly and open, gritty and stubborn, generous and innovative. Think about the Midlanders you know. How would you describe them? Old Midlanders and new Midlanders share a common inner strength and tenacity. The bold determination which has kept West Texans living here through droughts and busts — good times and bad — is the same bold determination which brings new people here today. There is opportunity in Midland, available to all who are willing to work for it.
We are a city full of doers and decision-makers, people who want to stop talking and get things done. We value a closed deal, a successful initiative, an effective solution and a finalized decision. Too much deliberation and discussion make Midlanders roll our eyes and move along because we do not want to be stuck in backrooms and board rooms, just talking issues to death. Let us state the facts, hear the relevant perspectives, make a wise decision and move forward.
Midlanders value discerning decisiveness as a key characteristic in all our leaders.
Recently, we’ve seen some big decisions from MISD in the purchase of Ranchland Hills Golf Club and a couple of apartment complexes. We’ve seen teacher pay increases and personnel changes. Our district leadership has acknowledged we have problems in our education system, and they are taking steps to address the problems in tangible ways.
At the city level, we are beginning to see a new momentum of road bonds passed, parks and recreation areas renovated and infrastructure built. The status quo has been deemed unacceptable in the face of massive population growth, so our city leadership is doing the work to make necessary changes.
Nonprofits are revamping their strategies, reorganizing for growth and transition, launching volunteers and funding into local foster care, affordable housing, mentoring and tutoring, and development of culture and the arts. No one in our community is sitting back, saying, “OK, I think we have all the right systems in place to just coast along as we always have.” No! We all know we must grow and change to meet the demands of growth and change in our city.
Today, as never before, we see Midlanders stepping into the fray in impactful ways. Young businessmen and women are remodeling the historic Green Acres miniature golf course, growing Mac’s BBQ & Catering, Ally Outdoors and Tall City Brewery into sought-after venues for families and folks of all ages to enjoy. New housing developments and shopping centers are in various stages of planning and construction, as Midland continues to attract newcomers from around the world.
Over the last 20 years, through some of the most significant peaks and valleys of oil and gas commodity prices, the population of Midland has experienced net growth. As always, we have experienced the most rapid population growth during oil booms, but we are now finding that most of those people are staying here even during the busts or downturns. We must realize Midland is not going back to the population of decades gone by, so we need to prepare to care well for all Midland residents.
Perhaps the truth is not that the boom/bust cycles are over, but rather that the boom/bust cycles can no longer govern decisions for the broader good of Midland. We MUST have successful schools, functional infrastructure and quality health care. Wise, discerning leaders must make fiscally responsible decisions that will serve our community well, regardless of commodity prices or rig count.
Can we acknowledge that some of the current big changes in Midland will be wonderful, while some may catastrophically fail? Yes, I think we can. The changes will not all be positive; some changes actually may cause harm. But, as a community, we must value the bold decisiveness and active risks that are being undertaken to create momentous beneficial change.
It is easy for the critic on the sidelines to pick apart the calls being made in the game. But it is not the critic whose voice matters. If you are unhappy with the decisions being made in Midland today, get in there, participate in the process and do something about it. Otherwise, hush and decide to be supportive.
There has never been a time of more promise and opportunity in Midland. Now is the time to add your contribution to the good, collaborative work to bring our community forward as a leader in our region, our state and our world.