Williston Economic Development’s deputy director has the daunting task of tracking job creation in the Williston area. Shawn Wenko says he likes to see how Williston compares to other cities in the state. And, it’s probably no big shock that Williston leads the state in job growth.
Wenko says Williams County created over 12,000 jobs from January 2010 to September 2011. “That number doesn’t surprise me. If we could have brought housing online faster it would probably be even more. The fourth quarter of 2011 will be faster.” Coming in second in job creation was Cass County with about 7,500 new jobs followed by Stark County with just over 4,000 during that same time period.
During those same seven quarters Williams County also was number one in business creation. Over 400 new businesses were created in Williams County compared to nearly 250 in Ward and 180 in Stark counties. Wenko says he doesn’t see any stoppage in the future. “It’s a reflection of the economic activity out here – we are number one in every area and it doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon. We will probably pull away even further from the other counties,” Wenko says.
The key to continued growth is more housing. “Permanent housing is detrimental to growing this community. This summer I think we will turn a corner on housing and we will start to see a little bit of breathing room.”
Wenko adds that over fifty percent of the oil field jobs are created in Williams County and as the smaller towns get saturated that percentage could grow even more.
Williams County also led the state in personal income increases at the end of the third quarter in 2011. The average weekly wage was nearly $1,400 in Williams County, just under $71,000 a year.
“That’s higher than any other city in the state,” Wenko said.
Stark County was second in personal income at just under $1,000 a week followed by Cass County at just over $900.
“All of these numbers just reflect the huge amount of activity that is going on in Williams County,” Wenko said.