Letter: Creating strong communities in the Bakken

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The Bakken has created tremendous progress for North Dakota. It has reinvigorated communities, boosted tax revenues, and created thousands of jobs. But the ultimate goal of all this progress is not just to generate more revenue or jobs — it's to create thriving communities.

I recently spoke at the API Petroleum Banquet in Williston, N.D., where I shared with attendees the importance of getting new employees and their families engaged in the community. I had with me as guests several remarkably impressive Watford City High School students. I had been working with these students to help create lasting connections between the Bakken workforce and the community.

These students are prime examples of the good that comes when professionals engage with the community and its future generations. Take Peyton, a senior at WCHS. Peyton participates in a work experience program at a local energy company where he is learning about a potential future career. Another student, Taylor, shared with us how she is active with the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee, and how she will be educating our local workforce on the importance of being counted. Hailey, another guest of mine, talked about the Students Against Destructive Decisions program in which she participates. She collaborates with our workforce on topics such as suicide prevention and alcohol abuse to help build awareness of these issues in the community.

These students are great examples of what industry professionals can do when they become active and engaged in our communities. Because of Bakken companies and employees connecting with the community, we are influencing the next generation of North Dakotans in a positive way, and creating thriving communities that will flourish long into the future.

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