Dickinson, North Dakota

The oil industry has made itself at home in Dickinson. “Our budget (for the city) in 2010 was $21 million and that included everything. The budget that we approved for 2013 is $73.5 million. That’s about half operations and half capital improvement,” said Shawn Kessel, City Administrator. In other words, the budget for Dickinson more than tripled in three years. The expansion of infrastructure has been fast.

Dickinson, North Dakota, is located in the southwest corner of the state, about a hundred miles from any other major town. Until a few years ago, the population had been sitting at right about 16,000 people for decades. According to the city, the population including service workers is expected to top out at about 30,000 by the end of 2012. That doesn’t include the people that Dickinson serves from the surrounding areas.

With workers flooding in at record rates, Dickinson is expecting its population to reach 40,000 by 2020. Some experts believe that this number may be too conservative and expect the population to reach as much as 60,000. There’s construction everywhere. The demand for housing is growing up much faster than anyone expected. “They’ve built man camps, temporary housing using trailers, tents, and campers. I’ve seen railroad cars being used as homes,” said Tina Valnes, who has lived in western North Dakota since she was a child.

Even the airline industry has been affected. Delta Airlines announced just a few weeks ago that they are adding twice-daily nonstop flights between Dickinson and the Twin Cities.