Aberdeen Development Corporation chief Mike Bockorny said in February that recruiting refugees is key to filling jobs in Brown County. The focus then seemed to be Karen, Somali, and Latino workers fleeing bad conditions back home.
But now ADC sees a new field of refugees much closer to home: folks fleeing the Bakken!
Speaking after a community workforce forum Tuesday at Northern State University, Aberdeen Development Corp. workforce development coordinator Kati Bachmayer said the corporation is interested in reaching out to western North Dakota residents who have been affected by the Bakken oil boom.
“We’re interested in finding out if there are people in North Dakota who are interested in moving out of the oil patch,” Bachmayer said [Bryan Horwath, “North Dakota Might Help Solve Aberdeen Workforce Woes,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.04.08].
Hey, folks in Williston! Dickinson! Minot! Bismarck! Miss the good old days, when visitors could rent a motel room for two figures and newcomers could rent a decent trailer for three, when it was safe to cross the street, when your town wasn’t filled with money-hungry roughnecks driving up the price of pretty much everything? Leave the oil field! Come to Aberdeen, where things are nice and quiet, the way you remember them!
Bachmeyer sees a weather advantage to this Bakken-refugee idea:
“There are a lot of struggling local economies and high unemployment in the South, but what we’ve found is that we might be too cold here for a lot of those people,” she said. “We’d like to focus on states closer to us like Minnesota and Iowa and others where people wouldn’t have to make a big adjustment to the weather” [Horwath, 2015.04.08].
Note that the Bakken-refugee strategy relies on (1) the continuation of the Bakken boom and (2) the failure of anyone to find Bakken trailings in the Leola Hills to turn northeastern South Dakota into another petropolis.
- Molded Fiber Glass Senior VP Dave Giovannini said that at its Aberdeen plant, out of 500-plus workers, 260 are Karen, and 170 are Somali or Latino. That’s roughly 85% foreign/refugee workforce.
- Bachmeyer says there are 1,000 unfilled jobs in Aberdeen. Strangely, Mayor Mike Levsen has yet to put up billboards featuring his smiling face saying, “Aberdeen Has Jobs!”