The government shutdown is impacting federal workers and programs across the nation. However, here in Bismarck, officials say the City has proven its ability to weather economic challenges -- and this one is no different.
"Bismarck is the most happening city, I think, in the upper Midwest now," says John Warford, Mayor, City of Bismarck.
Though he says the City did not have this certain something ten years ago, it does now: "Bismarck made it through the great recession of '08 and '09, because we have a self-sustaining economy" -- meaning, diversified economic sectors such as education, medical, government, industrial and others. In fact, "we're one of the few communities in the country that got to reopen a plant," says Brian Ritter, President/CEO, Bismarck Mandan Development Association.
If Bismarck is the upper Midwest's "most happening city," then some might say, Northern Plains Commerce Centre is a key catalyst driving economic activity. Northern Plains is a heavy-haul corridor of industrial development that started as 235 acres of City-owned property five years ago. Only about 70 acres remain. Soon, it will be even less as the City expects to ink a deal with Tubular Transport and Logistics, an oil pipe hauler.
So even though Bismarck is hours from the Bakken, the energy sector has a presence here. "The boom in the oil patch, we wanted to be a part of it," says Mayor Warford.
Rail enables the hook-up.
The Mayor notes, "a pure industrial park without rail they're fairly common. They're not that hard to do." But rail is a primary reason for Northern Plains' success. Plus, land sales there are generating revenue for the City, but "that's not the whole story. The whole story is that land sale, plus the ongoing revenue for the City, plus the ongoing jobs that have been created by Bobcat or any other business out there," says Ritter.
So much so Northern Plains is creating a buzz.
Places like Billings, Montana, are looking to Bismarck for clues on how to make things happen in their cities. Ritter says, "I have been contacted by other communities across the country who heard about what we've done here and said, 'how did you do it?'"
"We're in the cross hairs, I think, of America and we're a happening city," says the Mayor.
The City has also identified several transportation initiatives it says will spur even greater economic development going forward. Those include projects along East Divide and North Washington, plus one as-of-yet undisclosed plan still in the works Mayor Warford says "will be a game changer."
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