By Heather Reid – Lone Tree USA
The apparent slump of the oil boom may have brought some loss, but there are definite wins to be seen as well. The rapid industrial, commercial, and population growth has fallen the hardest on North Dakota over the last few years. Where frustration over the slow build-out of housing and infrastructure has garnered national headlines, it is also the area that’s feeling remarkably upbeat about where the state is heading.
Most experts seem to feel that oil prices will rebound and find an equilibrium in the coming year, as environmental and housing concerns seem to be diminishing as well. State and company officials say contamination levels have dropped along waterways affected by a massive saltwater spill in western North Dakota’s oil patch. Elevated chloride levels initially detected along the Missouri River and the Big Muddy River are returning to normal levels. This is a substantially quicker clean-up time than previous spills of this magnitude, and has kept environmentalists at bay.
Another hefty win comes in the form of housing. New Legislature for 2015 is attacking home affordability as well as quality, with home ownership incentives for essential service workers within the four core counties. The mood in the housing market seems to be one of cautious optimism. Mike Anderson of CP Realty stated, “We’re definitely paying attention to the recent dip in oil prices. But our feeling is that it’s just part of the cycle and next year we should see a stabilization in the price.” They are being very careful to not over-build with the looming downturn. North Dakota is used to that cycle of fluctuating population and housing needs. It isn’t unique to this particular oil boom, and the areas agricultural industry has been around the block enough times to know when to be more conservative with fast housing growth.
For those looking to plant roots, North Dakota is prepared to legislate some appealing incentives for those who will need it most. For those looking to stay mobile and remain in North Dakota Man Camps… the structures are in place to ride out this wave and return to fuller capacity if the upswing comes later next year as some predict. Either way, the housing conversation is much less of a dilemma than previous booms have seen. For a state that has always been one that exports raw materials, they have always been dependent on price fluctuations. Early homesteaders left during drought or when commodity prices dropped, leaving a northern prairie scattered with empty farmhouses that just withered into disrepair over the years as their owners sought opportunities elsewhere. Oil workers do the same, as we can see with prices dropping… However, when the oil workers move on, they take their Man Camps with them. It’s no wonder that a recent poll found North Dakota has a 74 percent response Statewide of seeing the State as being on the right track. They have learned from the Losses in the past, and are setting up more Wins for their future.