Building Communities

Ward County, North Dakota

Only in Ward County North Dakota can you find the answer to the question: what happens when a kind a caring group of people jointly experience a 100-year flood and an economic boom at the same time?   The answer: people work together.

It has been little over a year since the Souris River broke well over its banks creating the worst flood disaster in North Dakota history affecting Minot and many other communities of the county.   4,000 homes flooded out.   11,000 families displaced.  And yet only 300 homeless people resorted to the emergency shelters.   For everyone else, friends and neighbors on higher ground took the high road and invited them in.   Garages filled with families.   Just like their ancestors of 80 years prior, it was barn raising time…North Dakota style.

One year later, life has not slowed down.   Ward County is the most populous county in the Bakken Boom.   Not only is the sound of construction still resonating throughout the flood recovery zones, but new homes are being built everywhere to accommodate the impacts of the strong economy.

Take the community of Surrey.    Today’s population is 1000.   By spring 2013, it will be 2000.  Guaranteed.   Over 400 houses are being built this fall and winter.   The same developers have a second phase of 1600 home sites ready in Phase Two.  Surrey is set to quintuple within less than a decade.  

This strategic plan comes at a time when the leaders of the county need to assess their direction.   For a year, it has been all about survival.   Ward County will survive, but can it utilize the coming 20 year period of projected economic growth to thrive?   Few areas have projections of economic growth like Ward County.  Shaping that growth is a once in a community-lifetime opportunity.

The opportunity to design and build quality communities is more real in western North Dakota than anywhere else in the nation.   If the Great Depression was marked by a barn raising mentality of neighbor helping neighbor, then the Great Boom must be met with the same commitment to build great communities.   This strategic plan is a step in this direction, bringing people together throughout the county to advance the strategies and quality of life initiatives to make Ward County a great place.

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