No, you're not imagining things. You are seeing more Maseratis on Loop 410.
The amazing wealth being generated by the Eagle Ford fracking boom is giving San Antonio a taste of something it hasn't seen much, except for the occasional lottery winner. The city is feeling oil wealthy.
"It' been wonderful," says Wendy Kowalik, the president of Predico Partners financial management, who lives in Karnes County. "They are people who have worked very very hard over the years and have barely made it, lived on the farm, and wanted to keep it in the family, and this has allowed them to."
The co called 'Eagle Ford Hillbillies,' named after the Clampett family who got rich on 'Texas tea' in the 1960s, are spreading their wealth to San Antonio, and Kowalik says it is being felt in every corner of the community.
"You're seeing changes dramatically, from the car dealership to the furniture purchases to homes," Kowalik said.
The Eagle Ford shale is expected to be producing one million barrels of oil per day in 2014. The region is expected to spin out $90 billion in wealth in the coming ten years, and much of that wealth will go to local residents. It is not unusual for residents of the Brush Country to be making $2 to $3 million a year just from oil leases. One man in Three Rivers compares his income to that of an NBA player.
But Kowalik says there is one big difference between the Eagle Ford Hillbillies and the flash and bling of the NBA. She says the Brush Country residents are not likely to blow their new income on flash and dash.
"Most of the people who have received a lot of that wealth are more frugal than the average person anyway," she says. "So what most of them are going is buying big ticket items that they haven't been able to afford in the past."
She says don't expect these hillbillies to 'move up to Beverly.' She says they're perfectly satisfied spending their wealth in San Antonio and south Texas, and that is good news for the entire region.
While Dallas and Houston have had their flashy oil millionaires, San Antonio has historically been a low wage tourism and military economy. But Kowalik says the sheer size of the Eagle Ford shale boom, and the fact that it is happening so close to the metro area, means the wealth will be circulating in the city for a decade or more.