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Industrial Strength: Williston, ND Prospers Across All Industries

Oil and gas, agriculture industries fuel new economic opportunities.

By Kevin Litwin on April 21, 2021

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Thanks to the region’s thriving oil and gas industry, Williston’s population has soared over the last decade, growing by more than 82% between 2010 and 2019. As a result, many of the area’s other industries have also grown, creating numerous well-paying, quality jobs.>

Oil and gas exploration remains a mainstay of the economy. Williston is located in the center of the Bakken Formation, a huge source for oil under parts of North Dakota, Montana and Canada, which has vaulted North Dakota to the second-largest oil-producing state in the nation behind Texas.

Local job opportunities are high in the energy industry and those that service it, including companies like Red River Supply/Red River Oilfield Services, which provides rail access, transloading, trucking, warehousing and oilfield supplies and logistics. Also in Williston is Creedence Energy Services, an oil and gas chemical company servicing the Bakken and Permian basins.

And along with oil and gas, Williston is active in alternative energy, from wind and water to biofuels.

williston nd

More Than Oil & Gas

Distribution is also a growth sector in Williston, thanks to the city’s location at the crossroads of U.S. Highways 2 and 85. Red River Supply operates the 180-acre Stony Creek Rail Yard, with more than four miles of dedicated track and open 24/7/365. The transload facility handles everything from industrial products to bulk dry goods, crude oil, chemicals, pipes and agricultural products.

Another growth industry is technology. In fact, Williston was chosen for a project called the North Dakota Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Beyond Visual Line of Site (BVLOS). The UAS BVLOS venture features aviation companies working with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop better air safety networks and support the growth of drone commerce.

Vantis, North Dakota’s unmanned aircraft systems network set to become the nation’s first statewide network for drones, will first be rolled out in McKenzie County and Williams County, where Williston is located.

“Vantis demonstrates the untapped opportunity potential in western North Dakota,” says Shawn Wenko, executive director of Williston Economic Development. “UAS and Beyond Visual Line of Site will be commonplace across the globe someday. But today, North Dakota is the leader.”

When operational, Vantis will allow a number of users to log on and send drones on remote missions. Not only will it be available for retail deliveries and other commercial uses, but it will be available for the state to use for road inspections and law enforcement operations.

Vern Whitten/North Dakota Tourism

Seeds the Day

The agriculture industry has deep roots in Williston. One of the biggest projects now is a $2.25 million large-capacity seed conditioning facility, which will open at Williston Research Extension Center in 2021 to condition pure genetic seeds for distribution to North Dakota and Montana producers.

“The new facility will have equipment like infrared cameras, multi-vision cameras and air blasters, all to advance the genetics of seeds. By the time the seeds go through the new facility, every seed will be 100% pure, with no contaminants of any kind,” says Kyle Dragseth, farm manager and seedstocks specialist at Williston Research Extension Center.

Dragseth says these days, research is taking place on crops such as durum, spring and winter wheat, to name a few.

“Our property covers about 2,000 acres where we grow all those crops for seed, and we have 16 top employees who oversee all the advancements occurring these days at Williston Research Extension Center.”


Beefed Up

Another key agricultural player here is Yellowstone River Beef, a USDA-certified meat processing plant.

“Locally, we supply to several restaurants as well as the Reynolds Market grocery chain in Montana, but we also ship our beef products to Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia and different parts of the Middle East,” says Trevor Abell, CEO and co-owner of Yellowstone River Beef. “The cattle in our region are the best in the world, and we help to give Williston the top reputation it deserves for the beef we supply throughout the world.”

Yellowstone River started because there was demand for a packing facility in the area to give cattle-producing ranchers a convenient place where they could get their meat processed.

“Williston is an excellent place for a young person to get into the ag industry,” Abell says. “Just educate yourself on what you want to do because there are several good opportunities.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Williston, ND area, check out the latest edition of Livability Williston, ND.

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