Especially after the holidays, winter in North Dakota seems bring time to a standstill as we anxiously await those first days of spring. If you look closely though, you can see how even in the dead of winter things are slowly but surely moving along in Williston. The progress being made locally is especially visible when you look at how many businesses are relocating and repurposing other buildings. Sears is moving to Second Avenue West, a branch of Napa Auto Parts is moving into the old Budget Furniture building, Boot Barn is opening in the former Sears location, and Williams County just sold one of their old buildings to a company with plans to repurpose the office space into a brew pub. These kinds of moves represent the resourcefulness of the entrepreneurs and business owners in Williston, in addition to the growth and expansion of their business.
In addition to repurposing buildings, I have spoken to several entrepreneurs, businesses, and groups who — while they have spent an extensive amount of time looking — still haven’t found the perfect building for their particular needs. As a result, they are planning to build. This is good news for all of Williston as it shows that companies are willing to invest in our city, both in terms of spending the funds needed to purchase property as well spending the time required to construct the building they need. Ultimately, projects like this create more jobs both immediately in the form of workers needed for the actual construction of the building and in the long-term to operate the new or newly expanded business. Although there are no shortage of jobs in Williston, job creation is never a bad thing — especially not for employees who benefit from competitive wages and low risk of unemployment.
Considering one major upcoming change to Williston’s layout — the decommissioning of Sloulin Airfield as we move to the new Williston Basin International Airport in October — I think we are going to continue to see a lot of new development and construction here. The decommissioning of Sloulin Field doesn’t just free up a lot of available land in the middle of the city, it also allows for brand new building and construction possibilities, formerly impossible due to FAA regulations. To clarify, because of the location of the current airport, buildings surrounding the airfield and in the flight path were restricted to a certain height. While I don’t foresee the immediate construction of a skyscraper in Williston, the airport location and FAA guidelines limited possibilities more than you might imagine. For example, when Pizza Hut broke ground on their new project on 26th St W, those involved realized their plans needed to be altered and they in fact needed to make their planned building a little bit taller. That said, due to the buildings proximity to the airport and flight path location, construction had to be paused at least until such a time when FAA guidelines will no longer restrict the increased height needed on their building. Now imagine how much that area could change without those height restrictions.
It’s been an exciting time in Williston for the last several years and thanks to the growth we are still seeing — and the soon-available large amount of unencumbered land in the heart of our city that will allow for so many new possibilities — it’s not going to become any less eventful any time soon.
Howard Klug is the mayor of Williston. His column appears weekly.