No magic bullet for economy in 2016

Just as it seemed that rumors around town and around the energy industry had it that activity in the Bakken was going to take off in the summer, those in the know put a kabosh on any real upward development. With the North Dakota Petroleum Council asserting that there is no sign of there being increased activity the remainder of 2016 and even into early 2017, hopes of a sudden lurch ahead in gas and oil, and thus the regional economy, are unrealistic.

Other economic indicators continue to point to a weak economy. The state’s taxable sales and purchases have slumped to pre-oil boom levels. Minot’s taxable sales and purchases were down 32.88 percent for the first quarter of 2016; building permits are also down substantially.

One doesn’t have to look around Minot too much to see signs of the slow economy in restaurants closing, hotels with few cars in the parking lots and less construction.

Kudos to City Manager Lee Staab for telling it like it is at a Minot City Council Finance and Improvements Committee that the council will have tough decisions to make when it comes to the 2017 budget. Indeed, they will, as will government at all levels.

With the doom and gloom news, it’s easy to see the negative. Scratch the surface and there are more upbeat developments. Minot is in better shape to handle the surge in economy when the Bakken does spring back to life. Hopefully local and state leaders have learned a lesson and have planted the seeds for better economic diversification. In Minot, the renovation of downtown continues while discussion is under way about how to best use the windfall of Resiliency funding.

Where there are clouds, there is always a silver lining.