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AS I SEE IT

Posted 9/30/09 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

While most of the nation is still suffering from high unemployment, vanishing jobs or the lack of good jobs, and a depressed housing market associated with a national recession, those problems are not facing Watford City or many of the other communities in western North Dakota.
Thanks to a very robust oil and gas industry, coupled with an excellent harvest this year, communities in the oil patch of western North Dakota just aren’t seeing the impacts of the nation’s recession.
Rather than a recession, we are experiencing a growth in virtually every aspect of our economy. And all it takes is a simple drive around Watford City to see all of the signs that show our economy is the best that it has been in several decades, and that right now, Watford City is booming.
New housing is being built to accommodate the influx of people that are moving into the community to take jobs either in the oil industry, oil field service work or with oil field trucking companies. And even with the new apartments and town homes being built, there is still a long list of people waiting to find rental units and move to our area.
Buildings that once stood vacant are now the new homes of oil-related companies that have moved into the area and existing companies are expanding their staff and operations.
Our local taxable sales have been on a steady increase for the past several years and area motels, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses are benefitting from all the new activity.
And for the first time in over a decade, our school systems are facing the opportunity and challenges associated with having more students in the classrooms as opposed to dealing with declining enrollments.
When comparing ourselves to many other cities across the nation, it’s pretty easy to feel pretty darn fortunate.
Granted, Watford City is lucky to be smack dab in the heart of the new oil play in the Bakken and Three Forks fields. And you can’t argue that our location, being at the junction of U.S. Highway 85 and N.D. 23 which is seeing a tremendous increase in vehicle traffic associated with the development of the oil patch, hasn’t been a boost to our local economy.
But it’s not all just luck that has put Watford City on the map as being a place where new families and new businesses want to relocate to.
The seeds for much of the success in the growth in Watford City and the surrounding area that we are seeing today was laid several years ago when visionaries began the task of asking the people of Watford City what they wanted to see the community look like in 10 years. And then they set out to make those improvements a reality.
Today, Watford City looks radically different than it did 10 years ago. We now have a new Main Street, more and improved recreational opportunities, a quality healthcare system, an excellent school system and the list of accomplishments goes on and on.
Watford City wanted to be a community that could sustain itself in poor economic conditions, but more importantly, be able to attract new people and businesses in good economic times. And as is evident today, the decisions of the past are paying big rewards today.