A magic city no more?: economic and cultural change in a Bakken boomtown city

Authors: Thomas Loder*, Texas A&M University
Topics: Energy, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: energy, oil, culture, rural
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The growth of the oil industry in North Dakota's Bakken region has spurred massive economic and population growth since 2007 (punctuated by a severe downturn during 2015-2016). While this growth has revitalized many declining agricultural communities, not all permanent residents have been equally pleased with the new cultural and economic landscape, with some arguing that North Dakota was better off before the upheaval of the oil boom. Along these lines, this paper specifically examines the opinions of long-term residents of Minot, the region's largest city and economic hub. Minot has historically been referred to as the Magic City, due to its rapid initial growth during the railroad boom of the late 19th century. Present city residents, however, have far more mixed feelings about the benefits and drawbacks of the current boom. While Minot residents argue that Minot has certainly improved economically in the short term, such growth has come at the cost of cultural change that has fundamentally ruined the city's quality of life. Additionally, residents have expressed concern that Minot is becoming too dependent on the oil industry and that the city will be unprepared for when the Bakken boom goes eventually goes bust for good. This paper concludes that while Minot residents remain broadly bullish regarding the oil boom, they remain skeptical of whether the positive aspects of the current upheaval can be productively harnessed to break the region's long-term trajectory of decline and to create a prosperous city for the future.

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