WATFORD CITY, N.D. - Watford City Mayor Philip Riely has declared May 23 Gov. Doug Burgum Day.
Thursday, Burgum, Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford and their team visited the community as part of their state-wide main street initiative. They say Watford City is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and that creates some unique responsibilities for the area.
The walk downtown is something Burgum and Sanford do all over the state to learn of the ways cities are promoting vibrancy in the core of their communities.
"Economic development in the 1980s, the 1990s and even the early 2000s was jobs, jobs, jobs, we've got to create jobs. We have over 30,000 jobs open in North Dakota now. We don't need to create more jobs. We've got to build communities where families want to move and want to live here, and that's why this is so important," said Burgum.
Burgum says in order to keep its quality workforce, Watford City has an additional duty to house its workers quickly, on top of the demands already placed on it as people continue to move to the area.
"Watford City is a special place. The fastest growing city in the state, and one of the fastest growing in the United States. Now, McKenzie County is the number one oil producing county in the United States, passing even some countries,” stated Burgum.
Watford City's local government says they are using a $1 million subsidy to offset housing infrastructure costs, so houses in the area can be more affordable and qualify for first time home buyers. Sanford says this is important because people will continue to move to the area because the oil industry is improving.
"There's actually one less drilling rig today than last year at this time, but 200,000 barrels a day more is being produced, so the industry keeps evolving, more industry, more midstream jobs so that workforce keeps coming, and the responsibility is right in the core," said Sanford.
Burgum and Sanford both agree that because Watford City started building up its quality of life and infrastructure downtown before the oil boom began, other local governments around North Dakota can take it as a good example of how to create a solid foundation to build upon for years to come.
Burgum says building these desirable cities starts with good communication and collaboration between the elected school boards, city, and county departments.