How will western North Dakota handle the ongoing oil boom in the coming years?
A multi-county effort called Vision West is seeking to answer that question with ideas for dealing with the "new normal."
Vision West held a meeting among representatives of the 17 counties and tribal governments in the region today at the Four Bears Resort.
They heard a report from the Center For Rural Entrepreneurship that calls for the state to increase the amount of oil-related tax income to a legacy fund, and to investigate ways to make sure the oil boom doesn't squeeze out other economic interests in the region.
(Don Macke, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship) "The state's already taken important steps in that direction so the way to think about it is just refining that policy a bit to actually create a dedicated fund for the region that would support long term economic development. One of the risks when you have this kind of development it squeezes out other economic activity so after the boom the region can actually end up economically weaker so we're trying to make sure that doesn't happen."
Also today, the Vision West members heard from the state senate majority leader about exactly where oil revenue ends up in the state's budget - and how the state's general fund also benefits from the tax collections through things like sales taxes and income taxes.
Individual counties will now hold meetings to discuss ideas for Vision West, and public meetings will be scheduled to allow your input on the process.