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Impacts of boom, good and bad, reach across the state

There’s a buzz across the state regarding how to fund priorities in western North Dakota. Recent proposals to provide one-time “surge” funding and change the long-term political subdivision funding formula appropriately will help address the many infrastructure development needs being faced across the western portion of our state. Cities, counties, school districts, townships and others all face multi-million dollar shortages in meeting the demand of simply keeping up with the growth, much less getting ahead of it. Counties and townships face a staggering cost of $75,000 per mile per year just to maintain gravel roads. Cities are faced with hundreds of millions of dollars in water and sewer treatment facilities alone.

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Fortunately, many of the infrastructure investments now being made in western North Dakota are beginning to have a markedly visible positive impact, not only in the Oil Patch, but in communities across the state. Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck, Jamestown and nearly every other city has employees and businesses that work in the Bakken or send product to it. Bakken investments are creating and will continue to create new jobs and opportunities throughout the state. Most importantly, continued investment in our western communities will attract families and increase our state’s overall quality of life by reducing the social challenges associated with such a rapidly growing industry. More families mean more service industry needs, which translates to additional opportunities for our state’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. As we’ve already seen, this leads to job creation and the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Continued infrastructure support of western North Dakota will not only help ensure a thriving energy industry, but also provide a continuing source of prosperity for all communities in our state to enjoy.

There are a host of groups you can contact to help in making sure these priorities are met by our state legislature next spring. These include the North Dakota Association of Oil & Gas Producing Counties, Bakken Backers, North Dakota Association of Counties, North Dakota Petroleum Council, and many more. I encourage you to reach out to your local legislators or a group that represents you and help us ensure our western communities offer the high quality of life that we expect in North Dakota.

Brady Pelton, Grand Forks