South Dakota business owners are learning how to cash in on the North Dakota oil boom.
Williston, North Dakota, and the Bakken Oil Formation are more than 600 miles from Sioux Falls, but as the oil industry and the region continue to grow, it's close enough for South Dakota businesses to zero in on the oil boom and take advantage of all the development happening right in our backyards.
"We have employee housing in Williston and we are looking at opening an office in Dickinson," Greg Sands with Sands Drywall said.
Sands has had workers in North Dakota for two years.
"We did a big hospital in Williston. We're doing a lot of work for FCI Constructors. We do all Halliburton's work for them, or about 95 percent of it," Sands said.
From North Dakota economic development directors to oil executives, Sands was among the dozens of business owners at a conference in Sioux Falls Monday focused on how South Dakota companies can capitalize on the oil boom.
Hegg Companies hosted the event.
"We need to take advantage of an opportunity that's right in our backyard. This doesn't happen every day. It's probably not going to happen again in our lifetime so why not see what other opportunities are there and try to make something of it," President and CEO of Hegg Companies Paul Hegg said.
A lot of the opportunities are in the construction industry but Denny Neugebauer, owner of the Year Round Brown tanning salons in South Dakota and Iowa, is exploring the idea of opening up more stores in North Dakota.
"As this area continues to grow, people are bringing their families and children, the schools are growing, and there's also a need for our type of business so we are exploring ourselves and looking in the North Dakota area," Neugebauer said.
"You're hearing all sorts of opportunities, housing being number one, but the one that lacks are what we call personal services things from dentists to chiropractors to hair salons to laundry. All those things need to be done," Hegg said.
And that's why businesses in South Dakota are now looking north for opportunities that continue to bubble to the surface every day.
"These things don't happen very often to us in the Upper Midwest," Hegg said.
So how fast is Williston, North Dakota, growing? According to economic development officials, the city's population was around 22,000 last year. In the next five years that is expected to nearly double to more than 40,000.