This past Saturday, March 18 2017, the front page of the Dickinson Press newspaper had two articles that further illustrate the slow down occurring in Dickinson, North Dakota. One article was about the likelihood of the JC Penny department store closing in Dickinson. The JC Penny corporation has recently listed this store as one that they will close.
Dickinson, North Dakota has one shopping mall, the Prairie Hills Mall. The largest store in the Prairie Hills Mall, is probably this JC Penny department store that is now scheduled to be closed. After this, the only clothing department store in Dickinson will be Herbergers, also in the Prairie Hills Mall.
The second article on the front page of the Saturday Dickinson Press newspaper was about the possibility of the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Airport losing its only remaining commercial airline service currently being provided by United Airlines. After the oil boom ended in North Dakota by the end of 2014, Delta Airlines ceased operations at the Theodore Roosevelt Airport in Dickinson. United Airlines expressed its intention to cease operations also, but the airport and the federal government prevented United Airlines from ceasing operations in Dickinson through some “Essential Air Services” legislation/regulation.
The federal government currently subsidizes United Airlines to fly into and out of Dickinson because there are only approximately 25 to 50 passengers each day at the Theodore Roosevelt Airport. One of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts, would eliminate federal funding for “Essential Air Service”, where federal money is given to airlines so that they continue to provide airline service to locations that are not busy enough to be profitable.
If the Theodore Roosevelt Airport in Dickinson loses its only commercial airline service, the commercial airport manager, the maintenance staff, the TSA officers, the ticket agents and airline staff, the rental car agents, and some Taxi drivers will lose their jobs. The hotels in Dickinson will lose some business. Everyone in Dickinson, Beach, Belfield, Killdeer, New England, Richardton, Taylor, and Gladstone will have to drive or take a Taxi one hundred miles to Bismarck to fly on an airline.
I am laughing at Dickinson. The future of Dickinson looked so bright. Halliburton and Baker Hughes each built approximately $50 million facilities in Dickinson in 2011. Occidental built an approximately $10 million building just north of Halliburton and Baker Hughes. Marathon Oil Company, Tesoro, and Conoco Philips each built large new office buildings in Dickinson. The new $75 million St. Josephs Hospital was completed in Dickinson in 2014. The $450 million Dakota Prairie Refinery was completed in Dickinson in 2015. Now, Dickinson is so slow, it might not have any commercial airline service.
Yes, the oil boom came to an end in 2014. But the reason why so many people decided to leave, was because nearly everyone who came to Dickinson made up their mind soon after arriving that they could never afford to live here permanently. The price of housing was so extremely high, and it was for housing that people didn’t even want. All of the people who moved to Dickinson and had to pay $2,000 or more per month in rent for an apartment, felt like if they were going to be paying this much money, shouldn’t they at least be paying it to buy a house that they will build equity in?
The landowners, property developers, and real estate agents in Dickinson were so greedy in trying to take nearly all of the money that the out of state workers made, that most of these people left Dickinson right away when the oil boom ended. What could have been permanent long term growth for Dickinson if housing would have been more affordable, instead has resulted now in occupancy rates of 50% in the newly completed housing, and the Dickinson airport possibly shutting down.