Ins and outs of oilOil impact on area infrastructure is seen at all levels and local and state officials discussed its effect during a meeting at the Dickinson Public Library Thursday afternoon.
Oil impact on area infrastructure is seen at all levels and local and state officials discussed its effect during a meeting at the Dickinson Public Library Thursday afternoon.
Increases in oil activity have brought up several concerns, officials said — one being competition for local businesses.
However, at least one local business has seen the flipside — an increase in applicants.
A number of studies will soon be conducted to address infrastructure concerns.
Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson fears the city will lose economic diversity as businesses compete with oilfield wages.
“I’m concerned we’re going to squeeze out a number of those companies over the course of time and that we’ll essentially be left with an economy that’s based upon ag production, agriculture and energy,” he said.
Curt Kittelson, sales manager for Fisher General Steel and Supply, said eight to 10 of about 70 employees have left for the oil patch in the last year.
“It’s made it a little difficult to hire people, because the oilfields are offering very, very competitive wages,” Kittelson said. “It’s hard for us to meet some of those wages, so that’s been a challenge.”
Guy Moos, president of Baker Boy Supply in Dickinson, has seen similar issues.
“Anytime you have the pool of workforce being reduced to what it is right now, it creates a little more of a challenge for all businesses, I believe,” he said.
Sky Wilson, general manager at Wal-Mart SuperCenter in Dickinson said its turnover rate has also increased, but it’s not necessarily negative.
“Their families are coming as well,” he said of oilfield workers. “We’re seeing a lot of new applicants as a result of the business as well.”
Moos said at least one recent hire moved to the area because her husband came here for an oil-related job.
All three businesses are enjoying the positive aspects of the oil boom and say the good impact of oil outweighs the bad.
City and county officials said it’s been hard to retain police and corrections employees, due to competitive wages.
Shane Goettle, North Dakota Department of Commerce commissioner, said that problem has reached a state level.
Issues related to other aspects of oil impact, such as roads and housing, were also discussed at Thursday’s meeting. Studies will also be conducted to address those needs.
Results of the studies will be ready by November and used in the next legislative session, Goettle said. The results will also be distributed at a local level to help city and county officials address concerns.
“In the end I hope we all have some very good, solid facts quantifying needs, around which we can make good judgments about priorities, as well as develop policy that helps address some of these challenges,” Goettle said after the meeting.
Projections point to oil-related activity staying in the state for 10 to 20 years, he added.