Start Up Here: Williston, ND Helps Businesses Get a Smart Start

A strong support network and incentives help Williston entrepreneurs thrive.

By
Kevin Litwin
On Tuesday, April 20, 2021 - 17:09
williston nd

With numerous resources available that help startups excel, Williston is the perfect place for entrepreneurs to set up shop.

The region is chock full of entrepreneurial success stories, many of which feature homegrown companies.

"This was once a small community with concerns that baby boomers would retire with nobody to replace them because younger people were moving away," says Shawn Wenko, executive director of Williston Economic Development. "Now with the oil boom, the average age in Williston is about 30. More young families continue to settle in this area, thanks to good career opportunities."

A number of programs are in place to help entrepreneurs and small businesses become successful. The Williston STAR Fund, for example, provides a variety of grants to qualifying applicants. The Williston City Commission has awarded nearly $1 million in STAR Fund assistance to more than 30 businesses since June 2017. 

The Super STAR program features a network of past Williston STAR Fund recipients who can answer questions and provide advice to new startups and entrepreneurs.

The free 1 Million Cups program brings together entrepreneurs who present business ideas to fellow professionals monthly and find ways those around them can support their businesses.

In addition, entrepreneurs can access the Williston State College Small Business Development Center, which educates them on all facets of owning and operating a business, such as business plans, cash flows, loan preparations, research and other small business items.

"There is help available in Williston for people involved in any venture, from restaurants and retail all the way up to large manufacturing and everything in between," Wenko says. "We have resources for all career opportunities."

williston nd
Chatter Pediatric Therapy

Opportunity is Here

The Williston area is filled with entrepreneurial successes.

One, in particular, is Katie Kringen, who owns Chatter Pediatric Therapy and Chatter Walk-In Clinic, which specializes in evaluating, diagnosing and treating newborns through the teenage years. She also recently opened a second Chatter Pediatric Therapy business in Dickinson.

Funding Kringen received from the Williston STAR Fund helped her purchase an office building at the corner of University Avenue and Broadway. She transformed the site into Chatter Pediatric Therapy and Chatter Walk-In Clinic.

Chatter Pediatric Therapy is on the second floor of the building, providing therapy to disabled children from a team of professionals made up of a child psychologist, speech and language pathologists, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist and a mental health counselor. Meanwhile, the building's ground floor features a walk-in clinic to provide medical help for babies, toddlers, teens, young adults, college students, and their families. 

"The clinic handles things like stitches, sports physicals, school immunizations, vaccinations, ear infections, pink eye, the flu, COVID – everything," Katie says. "After my Chatter Pediatric Therapy practice was well established, I also wanted to open an easy access medical clinic with same-day appointments."

Katie says she will always be grateful to the city for providing her with the Williston STAR Fund that helped her get started and established. 

"I absolutely love this city and notice a real spirit in Williston," she says. "The community has been very supportive of my practice, and there is nowhere else I would want to be."

Creating Jobs

A key tool for job creation in Williston is the voter-approved STAR Fund. Williston voters approved a 1% city sales tax through June 30, 2030. From proceeds of the tax, 75% is dedicated to infrastructure debt relief for City of Williston projects, with the remaining 25% dedicated to job creation and community development.

The STAR Fund sets aside up to $50,000 each year available to Williston and regional entities seeking to enhance the quality of life within the region.

The types of STAR programs available include low-interest loan programs for new and existing businesses, matching grants for business remodels and sign replacements, incentive funding for existing and new child care facilities and grant opportunities for qualifying projects that enhance the community's quality of life.

Since 2010, the job creation and community development portion has assisted over 250 startup businesses, retail spaces, service providers, housing expansions, daycares, manufacturing, industrial facilities and quality-of-life improvements. Application approvals take about four weeks.

The job creation and community development portion of the STAR Fund is governed by a board of directors made up of seven members. More information about the program can be found at willistondevelopment.com.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years.