Developers prepare to be lucky with oil growth
By Michael Johnson, Editor
Talk of the coming changes with the oil growth in the northwest corner of McLean County is enough to make most community and economic developers in the area quake in their boots—some with excitement and some with fear. Directors and members of five area economic boards gathered Thursday at Great River Energy for a chance to learn from an experienced developer, Gene Veeder of Watford City. Wilton, Washburn, Underwood, Garrison and Turtle Lake all had a representative available to hear what is happening in Watford City to keep up as the city has seen tremendous growth. The 2000 census shows the town had a population of about 5,500 and now it’s estimated to be at about 10,000 people. Veeder, the executive director of the McKenzie County Job Development Authority and Tourism Bureau, estimates that about 2,500 of those are living in temporary housing. He estimates that a few hundred will stay once the boom is over. "So don’t worry," Veeder said to area residents. He spoke of a plan that communities should have to be ready to get lucky, but expressed that he did not feel McLean County would be hit as hard as some areas like Stanley or Killdeer. The growth in Watford City comes from the oil boom that has brought the county’s monthly oil production from about 500,000 barrels in 2006 to 1.5 million in 2010.