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Brock: As Dickinson grows, a certain wallet must open

Harvey Brock

Every time someone visits, like most of us, I show them around town and all of the new developments.

Blessed with a gift for stating the obvious, our town is just a whole lot bigger than it was when I moved here.

Depending on how you are affected by the rapid growth, you may see it as a curse or an answer to prayers. Regardless, there is no doubt that our population is close to, if not already, double what it was six years ago.

When the oil development began, folks in the know started predicting a population of 30,000 in Dickinson within five years. I had my doubts that a town could grow that fast and, if it did, what type of town would you have?

The true boom hit Williston, Stanley, Tioga and Watford City first, and none of those communities were prepared for the rapid growth. Honestly, who could have for foreseen the effects of an unprecedented oil play to the limited existing infrastructure in those communities?

Dickinson benefited from the mistakes made by other communities early on, and still had its own share of growing pains.

That being said, I marvel while out on my tours what a masterful job our city leaders and planners have done in regulating the growth to produce developments where folks should be proud to live.

Those charged with managing the growth were smart enough to know what they could control and even smarter to know what they couldn't. Operating with limited funds, they have created a city of 30,000 that compares very favorably to cities of equal size elsewhere.

Dickinson is still growing at an incredible pace and folks are taking advantage of the opportunities.

Countless businesses have expanded, built new buildings or relocated for those opportunities. The North Dakota Legislature seems to be the only entity that doesn't seem to recognize the opportunities for our area.

The session couldn't end fast enough for the majority to brag about all the money they devoted to oil country while still putting huge money away for a rainy day.

The news out of oil country is that the rainy day is here now and more money is needed not because of poverty, but because of opportunities.

Money invested in oil-impacted city and county infrastructure now will save money later and result in quicker development which will in turn create more taxable sales and oil revenues sooner than later.

Those same folks that predicted 30,000 population in Dickinson are now predicting 50,000 folks in five years and I'm no longer a doubter.

Continuing to manage that type of growth effectively will require even more expertise and hard work from our city, along with more money from the state.

Like it or not, this is no longer an oil boom but a major oil development that should last for decades.

Our town will continue to grow and the only choice we have is to stay ahead of the play. Countless people are opening their wallets and investing huge dollars in oil country because they see the opportunity.

North Dakota legislators need to share their entrepreneurial spirit.

Brock is the publisher of The Dickinson Press.

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