SWEETWATER, Texas – Just two years ago, the little town of Sweetwater, Texas, seemed to be on the brink of a transformation.
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Expecting a huge influx of oil workers, local leaders spent tens of millions of dollars to improve the courthouse, build a new law-enforcement center and upgrade the hospital. Hotels, truck stops and housing subdivisions were to follow.
Sweetwater envisioned becoming a major player in the hydraulic-fracturing boom, thanks to its location atop one of the nation's largest underground petroleum formations.
But those ambitions are fading fast as the plummeting price of oil causes investors to pull back. Now the town of 11,000 awaits layoffs and budget cuts and defers its dreams.
Industry observers say what's happening in Sweetwater reflects a contraction in oil development nationwide.