City of extraordinary growth
Williston adjusts to ‘the new normal’ & future looks bright
WILLISTON – The City of Williston has seen its fair share of oil booms and busts; but the most recent downturn was different from before. This past year, while Williston adjusted to a decrease in oil-field activity, the City also adapted to a new larger population of 33,500.
The “new normal” in Williston required the continued buildout of Williston’s infrastructure. The City sought state and federal funds to help build a new $260 million airport, $54 million high school, $6 million fire station, $15 million mixed-use building in downtown Williston and the expansion of an industrial park in Williston.
“The extraordinary growth in Williston has called for extensive planning and investment,” said Williston Economic Development Executive Director Shawn Wenko. “Williston has utilized its one-cent city sales tax to fund roads, water and sewer expansions as well as attract entrepreneurs and developers.”
Three quarters of the one-cent city sales tax helps fund infrastructure projects while the remainder supports economic development programs through the STAR Fund. The Renaissance on Main project is one of the STAR Fund’s most notable success stories in the past year. A Chicago-based firm, Renaissance Companies, utilized private investments and public programs to convert a rundown parking lot into a beautiful $15 million mixed use facility in the heart of Downtown Williston. The four-story development has living, office, retail, commercial and parking space.
Another noteworthy project was the STAR Fund’s investment in Red River Oilfield Services’ expansion of the Stony Creek Rail Yard. The STAR fund helped Red River acquire an SWX-80 ShuttleWagon locomotive a few years ago; helping to increase the total value of products moved through its terminal to $1.5 billion in 2016.
Williston Economic Development began pursuing ideas for the redevelopment of its existing airport this past year as well. When the new Williston Basin International Airport opens sometime in 2019, the Sloulin Field Redevelopment Airport will be decommissioned and closed. The future of the 800-plus acre site has yet to be determined.
The future of Williston continues to look bright as it adjusts to what it calls “the new normal,” a community nearly three times in geographical size and population compared to what it was in 2010.