More good stuff on the Bakken – 11/8

Here are a few articles of what’s going on in North Dakota. Focus for this post is infrastructure and employment.

11/7 – Al Jazeera – From the wars of West Africa to the oil boom of North Dakota – Yes, my first link to Al Jazeera.

This is a superb story – in-depth view of the life of two immigrants from Africa (him Sierra Leone, her Liberia) who are making a combined $30 an hour (likely about $15 each). Assuming they are each working only 40 hours a week, that puts their income at about $4,800 every 4 weeks. They are living in a tiny trailer in an illegal trailer park. Can’t get an apartment due to poor credit, but they have a place of their own. They are struggling but they are getting by, making enough that they send money back to family. Great story. Check it out.

Very different story line than the four men you will see in The Overnighters, who didn’t make it in Williston.

The couple worships occasionally at a Lutheran church.

The Williston community has a small group of Muslims that gather for Friday prayers in a rented room at the library. The reporter saw about 50 at prayers. Tolerance. Cool.

When I was in Williston last month (10/14), I noticed a large increase in the portion of non-white faces compared to a year ago. There is a large Hispanic population. Only visited with a few people, but noticed a lot of what seemed to be African accents. I hear tell that there are a lot of people from Ghana.

There is a visible change in the racial composition of the city from when I was in Williston back in October 2013.

10/31- Bismarck Tribune – Williston sharply increases development fines – Fines for violating construction and development rules have been increased from the range hundreds of dollars, with some fines as much as $1,500.

AP article says some developers were treating fines as part of doing business. With the extreme demand for housing, I don’t doubt that for one moment. Keep in mind the rapid development and the impossibility that the city and county have added enough zoning and code approval staff to keep up.

Only question in my mind is whether going from a few hundred to a thousand dollar fine will do anything to change that equation of fines being a cost of doing business. Having seen the staggering volume of construction underway and sensing the huge unmet demand for housing, I’ll guess that five or ten grand for fines is essentially irrelevant to the cost and profits on a project.

10/27 – – ND has 2.89 jobs available per unemployed worker – Study cited by article calculated there are 2.89 jobs listed on-line for every unemployed worker in the state. Actual count is higher than that, because the study only tallied jobs listed on the ‘net.

That tells me there is a backlog of oil, wholesale, retail, and general infrastructure work to do.

11/6 – Dickinson Press – Williston breaks ground on new high school – It will take a long time for the infrastructure in Williston and all of western North Dakota to catch up with the tripling or quadrupling of the population. Breaking ground on a new high school is one of many steps.

Article doesn’t say how many students are in the school system, but does say there are 700 students in 54 modular classes, with growth over the next five years expected to be another 1,300 students.

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