Oil boom trickles into Belle Fourche - KOTA Territory News

Oil boom trickles into Belle Fourche

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Local construction companies also benefit from the oil boom.  Photo by Jack Siebold Local construction companies also benefit from the oil boom. Photo by Jack Siebold
Governor Dennis Daugaaurd Governor Dennis Daugaaurd
Belle Fourche Mayor Gary Hendrickson Belle Fourche Mayor Gary Hendrickson

by Jack Siebold, MyTown editor

The North Dakota oil boom continues to draw workers and business ventures but sometimes, you just can't do set up shop at ground zero.  That gives towns like Belle Fourche a taste of trickle-down economics that works.
 
Tuesday, the Texas manufacturer Pipeline Plastics broke ground on a 36,000-square-foot plant on Highway 212, about two miles west of Belle Fourche.  "We looked for a location that was as close to the North Dakota market as we could get and still have a rail service and Belle Fourche fit that," company owner Monty Fisher said.
 
Fisher added that South Dakota and specifically Belle Fourche is the place because "the business environment here is more favorable than North Dakota."  That, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard said, is due to the fact that any company trying to expand in North Dakota has to fight for a work force and deal with higher taxes.
 
Once the construction dust settles around early spring 2013, Pipeline Plastics will have 40 to 45 workers; all hired locally except the plant manager, Fisher said.
 
Small to mid-sized business ventures like Pipeline Plastics is the economic development that Belle is looking for.   "It speaks loudly of what I hope to see in the future," Belle Fourche Mayor Gary Hendrickson said.
 
Hendrickson says companies coming in because of the oil boom can be the foundation the city will build a long-term economic plan on.  "And they're really taking deliberate steps to participate in the opportunities presented by the Bakken Formation development in North Dakota," Governor Dennis Daugaard added.
 
The company move isn't just a good deal for Belle and South Dakota.  Neighboring Wyoming can benefit as well.  Besides supplying pipe in North Dakota, Pipeline Plastics also hits the energy markets in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.  Having the company manufacture the pipe here instead of in Texas saves money, according to Chris Weight of Milford Pipe and Supply out of Gillette, Wyo.  "I deal with a couple of pipe manufacturers," he said.  "We can ship pipe a lot cheaper from here and that will get everyone competitive."
 
Of course, the good news of new business and jobs is tempered due to the fact that what goes boom will ultimately go bust.  But neither Weight nor Hendrickson are too concerned since Pipeline Plastics also deals with municipal water systems, irrigation and the mining industry.
 
The company owner, Fisher, even thinks the municipal water business will be better than oil and gas.  As a matter of fact, the company struck a municipal water deal even before its plant is built.  Pipeline Plastics supplied Belle Fourche with the pipe needed to upgrade infrastructure out to the Highway 212 plant site.  It was a deal, the mayor said, that saved the city $50,000 in pipe cost.
 
High-tech manufacturers like Pipeline Places are a plum prize for the state, even though many of these jobs across the country are disappearing.  "South Dakota is really bucking the national trend," Daugaard said.  "In the last decade manufacturing jobs have been declining but in South Dakota, due to our strong work ethic, low tax environment and adoption of advanced manufacturing techniques, we're increasing the number of manufacturing jobs to the point that 10 percent of our workforce is in manufacturing."

It is also a $3.7 billion industry expected to grow.

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