Posted 7/22/14 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
Watford City has definitely had its share of ground-breakings for new facilities and infrastructure improvements over the past several years. We’ve seen the ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the Western Area Water Supply rural water system coming into McKenzie County and Watford City, and we’ve seen the first shovels of dirt turned at new residential and commercial developments, such as at The Highlands, Hunter’s Run, The Crossings, Watford Plaza, as well as two bypasses.
Ground-breakings have become so commonplace in and around Watford City these days that local officials are running out of room in their offices to display their shovels. And those events are indeed wonderful things to cover as a newspaper and to witness as a community. Ground-breakings mean positive things are happening and that the community is growing and changing for the better.
But two of the biggest ground-breaking events - the one for the new McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc. replacement facility held on June 27, and the other for the new Watford City High School held on July 21, really are setting the tone for what Watford City will, and can be, in the future.
Nothing that a community can build is more representative of their belief in the future than are healthcare and education. Without having quality healthcare and education, a community cannot attract new families, businesses or other economic development. Those two facilities consistently rank at the top of the main criteria that people and businesses look at when they are looking to relocate to an area. And with the formal ground-breakings for a new hospital and clinic facility, as well as a new high school, Watford City is positioning itself as one of the best communities in western North Dakota to work, as well as being the type of community that people will want to come to and live and raise a family.
What will Watford City look like in five or 10 years? That is a good question. But it is safe to assume that as new homes and apartments are built within the city limits, and more commercial and office buildings are developed, and new retail stores spring up, the city’s population could very easily be in the 15,000 to 20,000 range.
Which is why building new healthcare facilities and schools is so important for the community to be doing today.
Oilfied companies that are looking at creating regional offices, as well as retail businesses and developers have set their sights on the Bakken region of the state for their expansion plans. And when these companies look at investing millions of their dollars into a community, they want to know that their business will succeed in the town that they come to. And they want to know that that community not only believes in its future, but is willing to invest millions of dollars of their own money in itself.
With their willingness to help fund our community’s healthcare and education facilities, the residents of this area have truly made an investment in the future of Watford City.
And that investment, which was clearly demonstrated in these two ground-breakings, has set the tone for a very bright future for Watford City.