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Published April 30, 2012, 09:24 PM

GF City Council Committee Approves $75K to Lure More Business From Oil Fields

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Local leaders are cashing in on opportunities in the oil fields of western North Dakota.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Local leaders are cashing in on opportunities in the oil fields of western North Dakota.

The City Council's Finance Development Committee approved a $75,000 commitment from the city Monday night that will go toward a marketing initiative and outreach in the west.

Another $50,000 will come from partners outside of city government.

City leaders say Grand Forks has a unique opportunity to meet the growing demands out west.

"We need to let these companies and these other corporations know that Grand Forks also has opportunities for them to expand their businesses this way," City Council President Hal Gershman said.

City leaders say expansion is the key goal of this initiative. Grand Forks will be marketed as a place oil field businesses can expand without worrying about a housing crunch or a strained work force.

"What we're learning is that there are people that don't want to move out there because of the housing situation but they want to build things in the eastern part of the state and then ship it to the western part of the state," Council member Doug Christensen said.

Mayor Michael Brown and two others will be kicking off this initiative with a trip to the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck next month.

"We know there's about 74 businesses that have been identified in Grand Forks that are doing business in the Bakken. We will be meeting with those businesses to ask them to help us meet some of the key people also," Gershman said.

City leaders say the oil boom has produced tremendous growth in western North Dakota and it's time for Grand Forks to take advantage of its opportunities.

"I think the leadership has done a really good job and putting us in touch with developments that we can capitalize on," Council member Elliot Glassheim said.

"It's really a community-wide effort that's got far-reaching impacts on the entire community. It's also a collaborative effort. There's not many things that have this many parties involved for the benefit of the whole community," Chamber of Commerce Chair Chris Semrau said.

The Chamber of Commerce is committing $5,000. The city's $75,000 portion is coming from excess sales tax revenue.

The city of Grand Forks, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, UND, the Chamber, the Economic Development Corporation and other organizations are involved in the initiative.

The city hopes both public and private businesses will contribute financially.