Construction on the Bakken Area Skills Center has begun with the ceremonial groundbreaking on July 18, 2022. This center has been in the works for years and will be a place for hands-on technical training for both high school students and those already in the workforce. Construction is hoped to be finished by late 2023. Financial commitments to the project have been coming in from a variety of entities including North Dakota Career and Technical Education, McKenzie County Economic Development, McKenzie County School District #1, ONEOK, Stenehjem Holdings, Titan Energy Services, City of Watford City, Fort Union Masonic Lodge #128, Chord Energy, Northern States Fishing Tools, ConocoPhillips, Marathon, Carl E Rogan Post 29 American Legion, and Grayson Mill Energy. Financial contributions are still being accepted. Visit here for more information.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council will once again be holding its annual meeting in Watford City. Attendees can expect to hear the latest updates on the North Dakota’s petroleum industry from industry and government leaders. The meeting will be held September 20-22, 2022 at the Rough Rider Center.

The July economy at a glance is now available. Some data of note include:

  • McKenzie County’s May 2022 unemployment rate came in at 2.2%; in May 2021 it was 5.0%
  • Year-to-date occupancy tax distributions for Watford City is at $67,054; last year it was $44,789.
  • McKenzie County’s May 2022 labor force was 8,860; in May 2021 it was 8,525.

The Economic Resiliency and Diversification Strategies for McKenzie County technical assistance report is now available. Compiled by a diverse panel from the International Economic Development Council, the report details recommendations for our community to focus on in both the short and medium term. The McKenzie County Job Development Authority has been reviewing the recommendations and are seeking to implement many of them.

The June economy at a glance is now available. Some data of note:

  • Occupancy tax distributions for Watford City year to date are $58,821; compared to the same period last year it was $38,884.
  • Watford City sales tax distributions year to date are at $1.63 million; for the same period in 2021 it was $1.35 million.
  • Brookledge apartment occupancy rate for June 2022 is 85%; in June 2021 it was 62%.

Two new transmission lines and a substation estimated to cost half a billion dollars have been announced by Basin Electric for western North Dakota. Residential, commercial, industrial and data centers are all  contributing to the need for more power in the area. See more in this story from KFYR-TV.

McKenzie County’s 2021 taxable sales and purchases came in at $242.8 million according to the North Dakota State Tax Department. That represents a 6.9% rebound from the 2020 calendar year, but still behind the highs of 2018 and 2019. For more information visit the ND Tax Department data page.

The Greater North Dakota Chamber will be hosting a Business Roundtable in Watford City on June 22 focused on quality of place. Speakers include representatives from ONEOK, DLN Consulting and more. In a world where people choose their communities before selecting their employers, quality of life matters. Citizens expect their communities to provide aspects of health and well-being, which creates the feeling of belong and a sense of home. This is a conscious approach to economic development that goes beyond brick and mortar. Find more information and how to register here.

¿Hablas Español? As our county welcomes people from throughout our state, nation and world to become members of our workforce and community, not everyone who comes knows how to read English. As the recent Census data shows, there has been a 1000% percent increase in the Hispanic population of McKenzie County. In an effort to help integrate newcomers who only read Spanish, an effort is underway to provide information about current community events written in Spanish. To stay abreast visit the Hispanic Advocacy of North Dakota Facebook page.

An additional 3,000 square miles may now be considered economical for oil and gas drilling in the prolific oil- and gas-producing Bakken and Three Forks Formations. According to a recent presentation from the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, this expansion is due to technological advances in the industry. This translates to an additional 18 to 40 years of further oil drilling based on a price of oil at $60/barrel. After the wells are drilled, production is expected to last an additional 30 to 40 years. To see further analysis of this presentation see this Williston Herald article here.