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Published September 14, 2013, 09:34 PM

ND Petroleum Council annual meeting in Grand Forks

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) - Hotels are filling up fast as visitors make their way to Grand Forks for the North Dakota Petroleum Council's annual meeting.

By: Kayla Strayer, WDAZ, WDAY

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) - Hotels are filling up fast as visitors make their way to Grand Forks for the North Dakota Petroleum Council's annual meeting.

It's the first time the event will be held in the community and it's causing a buzz.

North Dakota Petroleum Council members are busy setting up at the Alerus Center.

The Trade Association for the oil and gas industry represents more than 500 businesses. While this is their 32nd annual conference, it's the first in Grand Forks.

Tessa Sandstrom- North Dakota Petroleum Council: "It's a good chance to get out here and let people ask questions. That's something we do quite often in western North Dakota, but this is the first time we're coming out here."

This is welcome news to Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown.

Michael Brown- Grand Forks Mayor: "It just cements our ties across the state. It shows that Grand Forks is busy here and busy there, as well, and our companies are expanding there. We're so happy that we have the workforce here and the land to allow those companies to develop here, as well. It's just a wonderful opportunity."

A big conference means big bucks for some businesses.

Nate Gawlik- Holiday Inn Express Employee: "When I looked at some of the other hotels in town and saw that they were sold out for Monday and Tuesday both, that's fantastic."

It's no surprise that Sandstrom says the oil boom is bringing an economic boom to the whole state.

Sandstrom: "Grand Forks is a perfect example. More than 110 businesses have been identified as doing more than $300 million in business in the Bakken."

They're not the only ones with a stake in the oil industry.

Sandstrom: "The University of North Dakota has really stepped up to become a leader in energy education."

UND spokesman Peter Johnson says the petroleum engineering program here has grown from four students to about 200 in just three years.

Peter Johnson- UND Spokesman: "It speaks to the great need in the state. It speaks to the interest of students, and it speaks to the capability of the university to create that kind of an intensive program in a very short period of time."

Some events include an Oil Can! Community Day starting at 2:30 p.m. Monday.

On Wednesday, former Notre Dame Football Coach Lou Holtz will speak at 8:30 a.m.

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