Lindsay Hoskins: Towanda Case Study: Looking at the once epicenter of natural gas exploration in Towanda, Pennsylvania, and seeing how they have been affected by the boom and bust of their economy

The potential risk towns face is displayed well by looking at the example of Towanda, Pa., located in Bradford County. Since 2008, Towanda has seen a steady presence of natural gas drilling sites, making the borough steadily become an epicenter for fracking, with a boom of economy. Stores started shifting their merchandise along with restaurants changing their menus to satisfy workers in the area. Within four years the sales tax revenue jumped 61 percent in the middle of a recession.

With the increase of economy, Towanda has seen negative impacts as well. Crime has increased 40 percent from 2009 to 2011. Additionally, with the demand of rooms and office space, property owners adjusted rates to match the demand. The cost of a one-bedroom apartment soared from a rate of $275-300 in 2008 to a price of over $1000 in 2011, making it too expensive for many Towandan residents to afford. While sales tax revenue may have jumped, the economy has not been a friend to all. A local church organization that helps homeless residents that have nowhere to go saw 460 homeless people in 2012, 100 more than 2011 (Detrow, 2012). The boom has created positive and negative impacts on the economy and overall community welfare, but just as citizens have started to adjust, the tides have turned once more. Gas companies now have started to move out of heavily drilled areas such as Towanda to other drilling sites.

Companies have moved out of the area because the price of natural gas has dropped. Businesses have seen decreases in profits as workers leave. Towns shifted to meet the needs of the companies that brought the business, but now, their
relationship is dependent on the price of gas. The boom-and-bust cycles of towns need to be planned for long-term in order to keep them afloat. With businesses tailoring their stores to workers’ needs they are setting themselves up for a heavily dependent relationship (“Downtown Business,” 2011).