The community vision has helped out in more ways than water infrastructure. Few communities of 12,000 have the foresight to hire their own travel and tourism director.
“It really is an all-inclusive community, yet we're a two-hour drive from two major metropolitan areas,” said Tawana Thomas, director of the Elk City Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We're big enough to experience growth, but small enough to be flexible.
Recipe yields success
Altogether, the recipe has created success for Elk City.
Oil and gas powers such as Chesapeake Energy Corp., Apache Corp. and Linn Energy have established and staffed field offices in Elk City to oversee drilling and production operations throughout western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle.
Forbes magazine in January named Elk City the 10th fastest-growing small town in the nation.
Two new hotels are under construction, and plans are under way for more than 100 new homes over the next year.
Longtime residents of Elk City and the other western Oklahoma boom towns are enjoying today's growth while always watching for the next bust. They know the strong times they have today are heavily dependent on oil and natural gas prices, which have a long history of volatility.
But at least for now, they are making the most of the renewed attention their corner of the country has received.