BVLOS network for western North Dakota

Our nation's first, statewide unmanned aircraft system (UAS) beyond visual line of site (BVLOS) network buildout will begin in the counties of McKenzie and Williams. Beginning the network here is partially due to the many potential commercial applications in the petroleum industry. The network called Vantis, has wide-ranging potential applications besides the petroleum industry. For more information see this Government Technology Magazine article, sUAS News article, this Grand Forks Herald article, this Williston Herald article or this Vantis press release.
November Economy at a Glance

The November Economy at a Glance is now available. Some data of note include:
  • McKenzie County's unemployment rate has continued to drop. In August 2020 it was 7.6% and September 2020's rate came in at 6.3%; For the same time period North Dakota's dropped from 4.8% to 3.8%.

  • Year-to-date permit values for McKenzie County for 2020 is $14.1 million while in 2019 it was $14.3 million.

  • Year-to-date permit values for Watford City for 2020 is $32.9 million, while in 2019 it was $16.1 million. The 2020 number includes the $16.2 million Fox Hills Elementary School.
New grant available for hospitality businesses

Applications for the Hospitality Economic Resiliency Grant which provides up to $25,000 for hospitality businesses negatively affected by the COVID19 pandemic will begin being accepted on Friday, November 20 at 10am Central time. Eligible North Dakota businesses include restaurants, bars, breweries, cafes, theaters, music/entertainment venues, and professional production companies that support major venue meetings and events. More details are provided at the link above. The deadline to submit is December 4 at 5pm Central time, but early application is recommended.
More pandemic assistance options

The Bank of North Dakota is administering a variety of pandemic assistance programs for businesses. They include:

  • The COVID-19 PACE Recovery I Program assists local financial institutions in providing low interest loans to support North Dakota businesses in their economic recovery due to negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will be accepted through November 30, 2020.

  • The COVID-19 PACE Recovery II Program assists North Dakota businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will pay interest expense accrued on eligible existing debt from April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020. It does not need to be repaid.

  • If your business has been physically located in North Dakota and current on all financial obligations since March 13, 2020, and has 10 or less full-time equivalents (FTE), you could be eligible for the Small Employer Loan Fund (SELF). Loan proceeds may be used to support working capital needs, recurring expenses and replenish inventory and term out COVID-19-related bridge loans or credit card debt originated on or after March 13, 2020. Up to $50,000.
McKenzie County GIS expands map functionality, receives recognition

McKenzie County's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department has been working hard to bring more McKenzie County mapping options to the public. Maps for voting districts, school districts, tax parcel information, road, address and much more are now available via this mapping portal.

ERSI--an international supplier of geographic information system software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications--recognized this work with the 2020 Special Achievement in GIS Award.
Expansion for rural broadband service

$6.9 million will be used by Reservation Telephone Cooperative (RTC) in expanding broadband services to 1,500 rural residents in McKenzie County and three Montana counties. The funding is being provided by the USDA Rural Development Reconnect program. Read more in this RTC press release.
Long X Bridge opens

The Long X Bridge, which crosses the Little Missouri River about 15 miles south of Watford City, is now open. The $37.4 million bridge project has two lanes of the new bridge open and work will continue for all four as well as the dismantling of the old bridge. Over 4,000 vehicles--many of them overweight/oversized-- cross the bridge daily.

Pictured on the new portion of the bridge, is Cal Klewin of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Through the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway, Klewin has been advocating for the bridge and expanded four laning of US Highway 85.
Vibrancy grant applications available

The Main Street Initiative (MSI) Vibrancy Grant Program, through the North Dakota Department of Commerce, supports local efforts to increase community vibrancy by providing seed funding for a small project that will build momentum and inspire additional projects. Community vibrancy improves quality of life, helps attract and retain workforce, and enhances community pride.  Applications are being accepted until January 4, 2021. Grant awards will range from $500 to $1500. Find more information here and the application here.
Lighting up the Fairgrounds

The second annual Candy Cane Lane will be happening at the McKenzie County Fairgrounds this year.

Local organizations are encouraged to participate by setting up a 20' x 15' lighted display from November 27-January 1. All funds raised through the reservation fee will go to the North Dakota Make A Wish Foundation. For reservations or questions contact Carolyn Levang at 701-770-6938 or Chris Kubal at 701-307-0516.
Behavioral Health Summit

Local community leaders and professionals working with those who suffer from mental/behavioral health issues surrounding the use of illegal drugs, opioids, and alcohol will be gathering virtually for the Summit on Behavioral Health in Energy Country. This event will run from November 30-December 2, 2020 via the virtual platform Zoom. For more information and to register visit here.
Homesteading play postponed

The original theatrical production "Voices of Dakota Prairie" originally scheduled for November 22 has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay tuned to learn if the event is able to be rescheduled.