Missoulan, Montana (CNN) It’s a small town in Montana’s Powder River Basin, and the people here are as eager to hear your story as you are to rent a car.
They can be surprisingly patient, especially when it comes to new car rental.
The local barbershop, with its small barber shop, is a go-to for those looking for a new car.
It’s one of many car rental options available in Missoura, one of the last rural areas in the state to go to 100 percent renewable electricity.
“I think it’s a good thing that people are willing to try a little bit of new and different,” said Mike D. Loughlin, a former oil and gas executive and former chief of the Missoulian Gas and Electric Co. The community has been struggling with high unemployment and a drop in gas prices, and now, there’s a new opportunity.
The Missoulians have made the switch from diesel to gasoline cars, and a few are moving to electric, said Missoulia resident and former Missoul City Councilwoman Susan O’Connor.
“The market is just so competitive, you can’t really compete with that,” she said.
“There’s been a lot of competition, and they’re just doing it on a more affordable, sustainable, low-cost model.”
Missoulie residents have been seeing an influx of new cars since the beginning of 2017, with the average price of a new vehicle going up from $35,000 to $70,000, according to the Missourean.com website.
“It’s a pretty good time to buy a new home in Missouri,” said Daniella Epps, an executive assistant at a financial services firm.
“I think that there’s going to be a lot more buyers moving out of the region, especially in the Missouri metro area.”
In Missouli, a small rural town with an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, the demand for cars has been overwhelming.
“People have been looking for something more affordable,” said Loughlyn, the barber.
“We see people buying cars for themselves.
It makes sense to be able to save for a down payment.
You know, to have some sort of a downpayment on a car is a good investment.”
In rural Montana, that’s not necessarily the case.
Montana’s solar boom is the largest in the United States.
And there’s still plenty of competition in the industry.
“We’ve had a lot to do with the demand, and there’s not a lot left of it,” said D.J. Jones, president of the Montana Solar Energy Association.
Jones is a long-time solar advocate and the owner of the National Solar Conference, a meeting and networking event that brings together the solar industry leaders from around the country.
It meets every other year, but it’s the first time in the country it’s happening in the Midwest.
Jones said that if he were to see a spike in demand, he’d start buying more solar.
He has to start saving some money now.
“Now, it’s just too much, but we have to be patient with this,” he said.
“And, you know, if I had to buy the car, I would do it right now.”
The energy savings that the energy industry brings to the table is a real win-win for all parties involved.
Solar and energy, he said, are a couple of different ways to save money.
“It’s just good for the environment,” he added.
“And the people that are involved in it.
And it’s good for all the people in the community.”
And it’s not just solar that’s driving the demand.
The industry is booming in the Great Plains region, and it’s making a comeback in the Northwest.
That’s where the demand is highest, with a median price of $72,000.
In Montana, the median home price in the area is $100,000 and a home is valued at $3.2 million, according the Missoallet.com site.
“You’re seeing this demand going back into Montana,” said Jones.
“So it’s really good for people in this state.”
The solar boom also means that Montana has seen an uptick in the number of solar jobs.
In 2016, the state had just under 3,000 solar jobs, but that number rose to over 4,000 jobs last year.
“With the new generation, you’ve got an incredible number of jobs in the solar sector,” said Dave Sugg, executive director of the Solar Energy Industries Association of Montana.
“The solar industry has been an amazing catalyst in the economy and it really helps us have a good overall economic impact here in the Montana area.”
Solar companies are growing like crazy in Montana.
Last year, the Montana solar industry employed more than 6,000 people.
That number is expected to jump to 7