WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 21, 2010, 11:35 AM

Running with Oil: Western ND towns revived by oil boom

Tioga, ND (WDAY TV) - After years of decline, western North Dakota towns are seeing a revival as a result of the oil boom. Even with the challenges, Tioga is one rural community grateful for another chance. Tonight, we continue our Forum Communications special series, Running with Oil. Here's Multimedia correspondent Teri Finneman.

By: Teri Finneman, WDAY

Tim Joyce bought his Tioga drug store at one of the worst possible times.

“I bought the business in '87. A year later, we lost a big oil field employer out here on the highway, then another one. It was just kind of, I kinda wondered, "Did I do the right thing?"”

Twenty years later, Joyce isn't wondering anymore. His business and his hometown are making a comeback. Here in downtown Tioga, businesses and jobs are booming. So much so, no one's even stopped to keep count of just how many have been added. While businesses are glad for the economic boom, they say it also presents some challenges.

At the Sportsman Café, down time is scarce with big orders to fill from oil workers. A help wanted sign hangs outside, a symbol of the community's growing pains.

“There is lots of work, no help, and no place to live.”

Like elsewhere in oil country, housing, roads, and traffic are stresses from the growth.

The other thing is having the availability of people to work for these businesses and getting paid a lower wage than the oil field because oil field wages are much higher. It's hard to keep people that are going to continue working at a minimum wage or retail wage type job. Still, local businesses say the positives far outweigh the negatives.

“It's certainly been a positive impact on local businesses since the activity started.”

Just right here within my own office, we have individuals coming back as young professionals that want to move back to Tioga and I think that's terrific. As for Joyce at Tioga Drug…

“I'm working harder than ever, but I'm not going to complain.