At one point, beginning almost two decades ago, groups in Williston — MDU, Cherry Creek Radio, Williston State College, and the Williston Chamber — were all a part of what was then called the Good Neighbors Breakfast. The Good Neighbors, with the help of partnering organizations, would go to surrounding communities and host a 66 cent breakfast as a way to get an update on what was going on in those towns.

When high levels of oil activity rapidly changed our region, these community breakfasts stopped until northwest North Dakota reached a manageable growth rate. Once that happened, the Good Neighbors Breakfast returned as the Connecting Communities Barbecue, host by Western Region Economic Development (WRED).

Currently in its fourth year, the Connecting Communities Barbecue is WRED’s way of encouraging a business friendly environment in Divide, McKenzie, Mountrail, and Williams County in northwest North Dakota and Richland, Roosevelt, and Sheridan in eastern Montana, no matter how large or small the community is because WRED, like the City of Williston, recognizes and values our surrounding communities and businesses as an important part of our trade region. This is why part of WRED’s barbecues includes bringing the radio station along and putting neighboring areas Mayors and local business leaders on air; we want to know what’s happening in our area, we want to shop and buy local whenever possible, and we want to work together to drive a thriving economy.

While WRED is truly a team effort between multiple cities, towns, and counties, I was recently asked why you see so many City of Williston staff and representatives from Williston at these events. The answer is pretty simple actually, and it’s not just because Williston loves a good barbecue; Williston loves community and knows that our community does not end at the city limits. We understand that our larger community carries just as much weight as our community at home which is why WRED and Connecting Communities is so important. Williston knows that partnerships with other communities, supporting them, helping others build their community, makes Williston and our entire area stronger.

There is strength in numbers and power in teamwork which is why the City of Williston does the work it does throughout the county and surrounding area. We saw a need for better connection to others decades ago and formed the Good Neighbors Breakfast, years later when the opportunity to contribute and build relationships and support our neighbors was offered to us through WRED, we volunteered ourselves in the spirit of continuing the tradition of being a good neighbor. In the last four years, Connecting Communities has grown and we, and our neighboring communities, are stronger for it.

On a final note, I would like to thank all of the businesses, cities, towns, counties, and people who have volunteered and helped strengthen WRED and reinforced the mission over the last few years, promoting a vibrant, diversified and sustainable economy through collaboration and outreach. Williston is proud to be on your team.

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