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More than $1.7M given to small businesses, quality of life projects in Williston through STAR Fund

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 7:50 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The goal of economic development is to help bring in and support businesses and organizations that improve communities. Williston Economic Development does that through use of its STAR Fund, which has served the city well in 2021.

Using a portion of the city’s one percent sales tax, Economic Development has helped small businesses start up or expand or make quality of life improvements that make Williston a better place to call home.

From boutiques, to new restaurants and projects of the future, Williston Economic Development has had a busy and successful year despite the ongoing pandemic.

“We were seeing we had the potential of a really good rebound, specifically in small business development, and so we wanted to go full speed into 2021,” said Shawn Wenko, Williston Economic Development executive director.

This year, Economic Development set a goal of providing STAR Funds to at least seven new business projects, seven expansions, and seven quality of life projects, known as “21 in 2021.” That yearly goal was surpassed in August and Executive Director Shawn Wenko said more than $1.7 million were allocated this year. He added that this a sort of “catchup” to the overall growth of the region the past 10 years.

“The demographics have changed in Williston. The average age has dropped significantly. With that brings different wants and needs and so that really is what is driving demand for small business,” said Wenko.

Wenko added that the STAR Fund this year also included multiple childcare facilities which he expects will accommodate up to 175 children sometime next year.

With bigger projects coming to Williston and Williams County, like the Cerilon GTL plant and Williston Square, Wenko said he expects another strong year of economic development for the city.

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