Williston Economic Summit and Trade Show showcases the city's achievements, fosters ideas for future

Published: Aug. 31, 2016 at 9:21 PM CDT
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The Williston Economic Summit and Trade Show wrapped up Wednesday. The annual event showcases the achievements made over the last year, and what to expect in the future.

No surprise what the top project in Williston will likely be for the next few years: the redevelopment of the old airport.

"We've had a lot of discussion about the new airport, about the redevelopment of the old airport site once the new airport is open," says Shawn Wenko, Williston Economic Development Director.

The opportunities that the existing airport presents could go a long way in diversifying the local economy.

"Move into the realm of light manufacturing, warehousing, we're looking at the designation of a foreign trade zone for the area," says Wenko.

And that's important for city leaders and entrepreneurs looking to expand the city's horizons.

"And how we build a city, is again, we look at how can we diversify our economy, how can we help our number one and two industries, which is oil and gas and agriculture, and attract more people to this area," says Wenko.

Keynote speakers at WEST included author Harvey Mackay and Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Doug Burgum.

"This is a great opportunity to meet with people who care about the future of Williston, care about the future of the region, care about the future of North Dakota, and are really trying to think about how can we diversify our economy, create great jobs and build great communities," says Burgum.

Burgum spoke at length about efficiency and creating communities that attract millennials.

"Biggest natural resource we have is our people, and we have to build communities that attract and retain the talent we need to participate in a digital economy. The world economy's changing. We have a big opportunity to diversify and Williston has a big future in front of it," says Burgum.

This is the fifth year for the event.