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Conference connects investors with challenges, opportunities in Bakken

WILLISTON -- Jeff Zarling, president of a Williston communications firm, said he often fields calls from people asking about "the Bacon."

He tells them he doesn't have time to educate them on the phone about the Bakken oil fields and says they should visit North Dakota to see it for themselves.

"Don't try and do business eight states away over the telephone," Zarling said. "It's not going to work."

Zarling, and his business, DAWA Solutions Group, is providing education up close by organizing the Bakken Investor Conference in Minot next week.

More than 200 potential investors are expected, more than twice as many as last year's inaugural event, Zarling said.

"I think people are starting to realize that this is pretty significant," Zarling said.

The event aims to connect people with investment opportunities in the Bakken region. It also will educate investors on some of the challenges of doing business in the Bakken.

"We believe the challenges are really opportunities," Zarling said. "You name the challenge we have, that's an opportunity for somebody to solve the problem and make a fair profit."

A major focus of the conference is housing development, with sessions geared toward real estate investors and developers.

Some of the people registered have been doing business in the Bakken for a few years and some are new and looking for opportunities, Zarling said.

A Bakken 101 session will help educate new investors.

Other speakers include Terry Hildestad, president and CEO of MDU Resources Group, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Sen. John Hoeven and former Rep. Earl Pomeroy. Brad Owen, lieutenant governor of Washington, will speak on the effects of the Bakken beyond North Dakota.

The conference is Monday through Wednesday at the Sleep Inn in Minot. Registration costs $850 and will be accepted at the door.

To register in advance and view the complete schedule, visit

Dalrymple is a reporter stationed in the Oil Patch for Forum Communications Co.