The nation may be mired in a painfully slow economic recovery, but Jim Oliver, founder of Financial Life Advisors in San Antonio, feels as if he is sitting in the middle of a boom.

The good times are largely attributable to the nearby Eagle Ford shale rock formation, where the introduction of fracking - the process of creating fissures in underground formations to allow oil or natural gas to flow - has revitalized extraction activities. And a broad swath of South Texas seems to be benefiting: Roads are under construction, new hotels are sprouting, so-called man camps are supplying oil workers with temporary housing and retail outlets are tempting people to spend their unexpected money.

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