Grand Forks looks to woo oil patch companiesGrand Forks leaders are working on a plan to woo businesses to the city that are already operating in the western North Dakota oil patch, where housing and available workers have become strained.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Grand Forks leaders are working on a plan to woo businesses to the city that are already operating in the western North Dakota oil patch, where housing and available workers have become strained.
The City Council is expected to vote next week on a proposal to spend $75,000 in city sales tax dollars on the effort, the Grand Forks Herald and WDAZ-TV reported.
The city's Bakken Initiative — named for the geologic formation that is churning out oil and drawing companies and workers from across the nation — also calls for another $50,000 to be raised from private and other sources for the public relations campaign to convince oil companies to set up shop in Grand Forks. The money would be used for such things as a video, mailings, and to send Grand Forks officials to an oil conference in Bismarck in late May.
Grand Forks is not trying to “cannibalize” companies from the west, City Council President Hal Gershman said.
“We are not talking relocation, we are talking expansion,” he said. He and Mayor Mike Brown said civic leaders in the western cities of Dickinson and Williston are on board with the plan.
“What we're learning is that there are people that don't want to move out (west) because of the housing situation but they want to build things in the eastern part of the state and then ship it to the western part of the state,” Councilman Doug Christensen said.
Gershman said dozens of Grand Forks businesses already are doing business in the oil patch, despite the nearly 300-mile distance to the heart of the drilling and pumping activity in the Williston Basin. Steffes Construction of Dickinson recently announced plans to expand its manufacturing of large oil field tanks to an unused building in Grand Forks, hiring up to 50 workers in the next three years. The company is “a poster child,” for the idea of the Bakken Initiative, Gershman said.
North Dakota has overtaken California as the third-largest oil-producing state in the nation and could surpass Alaska within the year to become the second-leading crude-producing state behind Texas. The Williston Basin is the hottest oil play in North America and is expected to last 20 years or more, oil company officials and state regulators say.
“These companies can expand into Montana or Canada,” Gershman said. “We want to keep them in North Dakota.”