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By Mike Rydell from Fargo
I had the pleasure to participate in a Fargo/Moorhead Chamber of Commerce panel discussing the beneficial impacts oil, gas and the lignite industry have had on our region. It is easy to take for granted their everyday importance. It is all too convenient to flip a light switch or fill at the pump while never considering how these industries impact the Red River Valley.
Inexpensive power saves each of us at home and has kept the manufacturing industry here and across the Midwest strong throughout the Great Recession.
The impact of the oil and gas industry is also directly connected to the valley. Area companies have capitalized on the boom and it shows in the increase of their bottom lines. The area provides thousands of skilled and professional opportunities tied directly and indirectly to the Bakken. In fact, a large number of Red River Valley businesses recognize themselves as directly operating within the oil and gas industry (Fargo – 124, West Fargo – 33, Grand Forks – 62).
Many other industries have chosen our area as a staging area for western North Dakota projects because of the quality of life and the excellent transportation network tied to the west. These include construction, real estate development, tank and steel, banking, equipment and supplies, asphalt and concrete, professional services, as well as the hospitality industry.
Workers and consumers have also benefited. Demand for employees of all types in western North Dakota has driven up wages and demand for labor in eastern North Dakota.
These industries continue to do great things for our state. They have created generational wealth for many families. They have empowered our state universities with research, donations and endowments.
Most importantly, they have brought opportunity for the next generation to a state that so desperately needed it.