News

Bowman Economy is 'Alive and Kicking'



Taxable sales within the city of Bowman have seen ‘an impressive' 72 percent increase between 2008 and 2012

By BRYCE MARTIN | Pioneer Editor | bmartin@countrymedia.net

Bowman's economy is doing well.

That was one of the main points Bowman County Development Corporation's Director Teran Doerr wanted to express when presenting her 2013 report at the organization's annual meeting on Wednesday.

"It was a successful year," Doerr said. "I think we had a great momentum from the previous year and were able to continue on with some of our goals and complete some of them."

The annual report covers a plethora of difference aspects that the BCDC worked on through the year including who was funded in 2013, the year's financials, information on tax and tourism, the All Seasons Arena, the Bowman Area Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center. It also includes the BCDC's 2014 goals, statistic from the state's Vision West Strategic Plan, an overview of major projects completed in 2013 and business success stories from the area.

For 2013, housing was a major focus.

Bowman saw movement on several projects to develop further housing, including construction of The Landing, an apartment complex with 16 apartments available for the public to rent.

The project was made possible through a collaborative effort of the Bowman County Development Corporation, ABLE, Inc. and Lutheran Social Services. Funding sources for this project included: Housing Incentive Funds as well as federal, state and private investments. Construction completion and move-in is slated for spring of 2014. LSS is dedicating 10 apartments for ABLE, Inc.'s use to support people with disabilities, with 16 apartments available to the public.

"The Vacant Homes Initiative is something we've been talking about for a long time," Doerr said. "We got it done, we got guidelines out there and we got our first applications." About a month ago, the Bowman County Housing Authority purchased a property in Scranton.

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THE BCDC: TOP 3 GOALS FOR 2014

■ Housing - The BCDC's key focus.

■ Business retention and expansion through the Small Business Development Center

■ Marketing promotion for tourism, jobs, housing development and business recruitment.

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A statistic aside from the report, but something Doerr said she wanted to touch on at the meeting, was the stellar growth of taxable sales within the city of Bowman.

Between 2008 and 2012, the city of Bowman had a 72 percent increase in taxable sales.

"That's huge," she said. "Bowman's (economy) is especially impressive because we have such a diversity in our economy still and we're not seeing quite the boom that they are to the north of us, but you can definitely tell our economy's stable.

"We've got good business in town."

As for the population trend of the Bowman area over the last several years, Doerr said it's steady, manageable, but good.

At a recent meeting held in Bismarck, Doerr said she heard from communities such as Watford City and Williston explain that their schools and cities are bonded to the maximum.

"They can't educate their kids because they don't have room for them. They've got homeless populations," she said.

To avoid a similar situation and keep Bowman poised for the impending oil boom to erupt in southwestern North Dakota, Doerr said they are taking all the steps and precautions necessary to ensure Bowman is not caught off guard.

"We want to protect our quality of life here," she said. "We've had great leadership that's had good foresight in the past and I don't see that changing."

And housing is one of the sectors in which cities in northwestern North Dakota were hit the hardest following the Bakken oil boom.

Further housing projects are on the top of the list for the BCDC to ensure there's no shortage crisis in the foreseeable future.

"Housing solves workforce, it solves a lot of other issues that we've got," she said.

As a member of Vision West, a regional strategic plan to assist with the situations caused by the oil boom, Doerr said they've identified housing as a central problem.

Developers approach Doerr and the BCDC constantly, but work on financial plans for projects takes time, she said.

"It takes time, but there are developers interested and we're working on it," she said.

Doerr said the community could expect to see several new businesses in the next year as the BCDC has received great interest in local startups.

It's also important to concentrate on helping current active businesses in town, she said.

To attract further people to the Bowman area, Doerr said one of the top goal's for the BCDC this year is to focus on tourism and expanded marketing.

"We want to get more tourism activity; offer more tourism services," she said. "We had a lot of tourism calls in here - traveling through, what can we do? I think there's more we can do to offer to those people."

Doerr said a pivotal way to increase tourism and awareness is by the BCDC providing more information, more itineraries and placing brochures in places that currently are untapped, such as local hotel rooms.

"We've got 150 hotel rooms, that's 150 potential customers that could be shopping on our Main Street or eating in our restaurants that don't potentially know about those," she said.

The BCDC has their work cutout for them, with Doerr explaining that the BCDC is an exceptionally busy office.

"I think it's hard to understand what we do because we're expected to be experts in housing, childcare, restaurants anything day-to-day," she said. "We're trying to be as informative as possible. We've got so many different things going on here.

"We're passionate about what we've got going on here. It's really exciting."