Vibrant economy

Continued growth opportunities in Williston

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The city of Williston’s economy is not booming or busting; it is somewhere in between, and that is a good place to be. While commodity-based economies are often on the edge of one extreme or the other, the current situation is preferred.

“We are entering into a period of extended ‘manageable’growth,” said Shawn Wenko, Williston Economic Development executive director. “Significant investment in infrastructure over the past several years will aid in the continued growth opportunities of the community.”

Some of the infrastructure milestones in 2017 included the completion of the Water Resource Recovery Facility, progress on the new Williston Basin International Airport and plans for the Sloulin Field Redevelopment project. The three endeavors will play large roles in Williston’s future.

“XWA presents us with an opportunity to really advance our economic position in western North Dakota,” said Wenko. “Transportation is a key component of healthy growth and development. Additionally, the redevelopment of Sloulin Field (once it is decommissioned) will aid in diversification.”

Preliminary plans for the redevelopment will be unveiled at a community meeting on Tuesday, May 8, in Williston. Gov. Doug Burgum will keynote the event as he has helped incorporate elements of his Main Street Initiative. The first phase of the project is expected to include a convention center, affordable housing and much more.

These strategies hope to minimize the impacts of Williston’s commodity-based economy and provide solutions to other challenges such as high enrollment in the schools, a shortage of skilled workers and continued negative public perception.

“Today, Williston’s economy is vibrant with higher than average wages, increased school enrollment, quality housing, enhanced quality of life amenities, and a significant decrease in the average age of new residents,” said Wenko.

WED utilizes GIS Planning to track population, work force and income trends. The latest data reports Williston’s population at 31,848; the average age is 30 years old; 54 percent of the population is male compared to 46 percent female and the median household income is $103,601.

The Williston STAR Fund continues to play an important role in attracting business and quality of life development. In March (2018), the city commission allocated $118,500 to seven projects totaling nearly $2 million in private investment. The STAR Fund is financed through the 1-cent city sales tax. It is administered by a seven member board.

“At the end of the day the goal is to make Williston a great place to live,” said Wenko.