Much to be Thankful for!

Before ushering in the cold and snow, this past weekend offered a warm start to the holiday season.  Right after Thanksgiving, the Holiday Lights parade took place Friday night, with Small Business Saturday following the next day.  Both of which made for a fruitful and productive weekend!   Do you want to know who the winner was?

This year’s Holiday Lights parade was our largest yet – with over 30 floats.  Area businesses put a lot of hard work into making a fun Friday evening for the community.  I kinda felt bad for our judges – as the floats were all so well done it was so hard to choose which ones were the best!  But it made for a great evening.  Besides being decorated and lit up, the floats offered candy, some stuffed animals, hot cocoa, music and more to the record breaking crowd.  The evening topped off with Williston Parks and Rec lighting the holiday lights at Harmon Park – which you can still see every evening!

Small Business Saturday was just as much fun!  Getting some shopping done on a beautiful warm (for late November!) day was not just how I spent my Saturday, but how many others did as well.  And shoppers didn’t just make out on sales – the businesses who participated in Small Business Saturday benefited as well!

Diane Satermo, owner of Cedar Chest noted, “It was excellent and fun! Steady flow of customers all day, many who have never been to the store before.  Customers really enjoyed the special discount in the clearance room.”

“Small Business Saturday is always a fun time with our key customers. Customers loved the sales and warm weather. People were walking all over north and south downtown!” said Angela Skogen owner of Cooks on Main.

“It was my second year participating in Small Business Saturday and it was just as much fun as the last one!  People are in a great mood, there was a ton of foot traffic, the Christmas music is flowing and the sales are a bonus!” said Dana Johnson, owner of Little Muddy Gifts.   “Thanks to everyone who came out and supported our community’s small businesses!  We greatly appreciate your patronage all year long!”

Lenny Johnson, owner of Starboard said, “I’m encouraged by the continued effort put into Small Business Saturday.  It’s important that we continue to educate everyone on the importance of shopping, not only locally, but in small businesses.  Small Business Saturday for Starboard, as a company, increased nearly 15%!  A fantastic kick off to the holiday shopping season!”

So do you want to know who the winner was?  All of us!  When we all work together we will continue to see great results – for our businesses and for our community!  Now that’s what I call the United Business Community.  And the Chamber is proud to Champion that!

Oh wait!  You want to know which FLOAT was the winner?  Ah!  Well thanks to our wonderful Mayor Howard Klug, City Administrator David Tuan, and County Commissioner Steve Kemp judging for us, we do have winners.  But as I mentioned it wasn’t an easy job.   We have 2 ties!  The 22nd annual Holiday Lights Parade float winners are Dark Acres and Prairie Rattlers Motorcycle Club!  They tied for 1st place each receiving 84 out of 90 points.  Tied for 3rd place are American State Bank & Trust and Williston Home and Lumber with 73 points!

Congratulations!!  Thank you to all our businesses for being involved in our parade this year.  As I reflect that Thanksgiving has come and gone so fast, I can’t help but be thankful.  I am thankful that the weather held out to allow for more people to come out and see what a great community this is.  I am thankful for Bekka, Kelsey, and Shawna, all our volunteers, and the many businesses who participated to make last weekend a success!  And I am thankful for the Williston Area Community and I look forward to the new things to come in the New Year!




Keeping You Informed – Cell Towers, Signs, Roads…

As the city grows, there is much discussion and planning to determine on how the region develops – but it doesn’t occur in a vacuum – or at least it shouldn’t.  The Chamber aims to keep you informed:  our newsletters and blogs will notify you of what is going on.  You can always visit our website newsroom  to find out more details.  Items like the comprehensive land use plan and the transportation plan (portions of US Hwy 2 and 1804) – which address our region’s growth – are open for public review and input.  You may recall the sign ordinance – the Chamber and others were key in getting some important changes included in that ordinance.   Most recently, the Planning & Zoning Commission has begun discussions on updating the City’s overall cell tower ordinance to incorporate new technologies.  Most of us use smart phones – think about how improvement on the cellular services in our area will impact our ability to do business.  Some of you may have more of an opinion on this than others, depending on your use, but the commission is seeking input from the community.  If you have specific needs, thoughts or information on cellular services please take some time to provide feedback.  Visit our website or take the survey now.

You may not be able to attend commission meetings, but information discussed and decided upon at city and county meetings are important for you to know.  The Chamber’s website is the place that you can go to for easy access to this information.   So, check back often to our website.   Be informed and provide input – help shape the community where you live and work into the way you want and need for your business.


Small Business Saturday – November 26th

Shopping local is not a new concept – it’s what everyone did before we became so global.  American Express founded ‘Small Business Saturday’ six years ago as a special day to celebrate and support our small businesses.  The Chamber, along with the Williston Downtowners Association, has signed onto Small Business Saturday as a coalition member because we agree: “when small businesses succeed, we all do”.   If you’ve been following the Chamber Blog, you have read about our emphasis on shopping local and making Williston strong.   The natural result of spending money where you live is a stronger community and thriving businesses.  We should shop local all the time – but plan to shop Williston specifically on November 26th!  Invite your friends and make a day of it.  Stop by any of the coffee shops in between shopping at the stores and take a break to eat at one of the many restaurants around town too while you’re at it!


If you’re a business owner, you can help spread the word as well – we have promotional materials to help you market this day to your customers.  Look for an email from the Chamber or contact Kelsey  for more information.  Visit for custom materials.  You can also send us any details on deals, coupons, special holiday hours, etc. and we will get that information up on our website for the community to see.   There is information from American Express on how customers can receive double points.  We will be passing out information to the Holiday Lights Parade watchers the day before.

Help spread the word – tell your co-workers, friends and family!  Join communities all over the country and unite on November 26th to support our local businesses.

#willistonwide #shopsmall #shopwillistonwide


Just 7 Days…

Happy Election Month!  Whether you are still undecided or can’t wait to cast your vote and for the elections to be over – voting is still an undeniable obligation and privilege we hold in this country.   Across the country there have been record breaking number of voter registrations, but North Dakota is different:  you don’t need to register.  You do, however, need to prepare.   If you haven’t lived at a ND address by October 9th, you should check with your state of residence for voter registration requirements.  Otherwise, find your polling location  (note that some may have changed since your last vote) and show up with your ID (proof of residency) on November 8th during the times the polls are open.

But I urge you not to simply show up.  This is an important election.  And not just because of the Clinton or Trump choice.  All elections are important.  This year North Dakotans get to vote for our Governor, Senator, US House of Representatives, Public Service Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner, State Treasurer, ND Justice of the Supreme Court, ND District House Representatives, and County Commissioners. The people we choose to put into office (for the next 2, 4 or even 6 years) make decisions that truly affect our lives.  Particularly on a local level.  Our County and City commissioners oversee numerous departments – anything from the roads we take to work, to social services we need, to the protection provided by our police and fire departments.

Our local representatives work at the state level to be a voice for our needs and issues here in Western North Dakota.  All the infrastructure improvements you’ve seen in the area are in part possible because of state funding and the working partnerships of those representatives at the state and local levels.

Beyond the people we are electing there are also 5 ballot measures to consider:  Residency requirements for State Legislators, Allocation of oil extraction taxes for education, Crime Victims’ rights, Tobacco Tax, and Medical Marijuana….You may have heard of a few but you can review the details here to determine which way you will vote. The Chamber’s aims to provide candidate forums proving you with the information on the candidates and issues at the local level.  If you missed the one we held last month you can find some information the Williston Herald wrote on it here. The Secretary of State website has great information.  Additionally, the North Dakota Living Magazine ( did a great piece on the ND November elections– you can view it here.

I urge you to refuse the notion that your vote doesn’t make a difference.  It most certainly does!  All our votes matter.  It’s our responsibility and opportunity to help shape our way of life.

So do your homework, be prepared and make a difference.  Vote!


Last Chance!

business-directory1If you’re like me, you take a lot of photos with your phone…have you gotten one that just absolutely captures the beauty of Northwest North Dakota and the Williston Area?  SEND it to us!! – you can submit your photo to our 2017 Chamber Business Directory photo contest.  If selected, your photograph will grace the cover of our 2017 Directory!  Maybe you are already a photographer in the Williston Camera Club or maybe you just use your phone like me.  Either way, I bet you have a photo to submit!  Deadline is November 4th at 3pm.

Our 2017 Chamber Business directory is close to production: this is your last chance to advertise your business! The directory is circulated with members and around town.  It is a resource for businesses in town.  But it also has information on the City, the County, the Chamber, the Community, and more!   If you missed out on the chance to advertise last year, make sure you don’t miss out again – call 701-577-6000 by November 4th.


Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Community, Chamber of Opportunity

The Williston Area Chamber endeavors to bring the business community together.  Your investment in the Chamber affords us the time and effort needed to promote and advocate for the business community and your membership has its benefits.

Are you taking advantage of all that Chamber membership offers you?  From over half a dozen larger events each year, to our monthly networking nights, we work to create opportunities for you, our members, to develop strong local networks, which can result in actual business-to-business exchange.  The Chamber – where connections happen!  It’s not just a cute saying on the back of our business cards (although you can find it there!).  It’s at the core of our mission – the champion of Williston’s United Business Community.  The Chamber has some opportunity for everyone – marketing, networking, promoting, resources.   Have you found your chamber niche yet?  Check out our Chamber website to find the best thing for you or your business.  Use our member directory to find an area business that offers just want you may need.  Be informed by our weekly and bi-monthly member to member newsletters.  Advertise your business, submit a photo for our 2017 business directory, sponsor an event, participate on a committee, or attend a ribbon cutting or any event listed on our calendar.  Stay connected with the Chamber and you inevitably help yourself!  If we don’t have something for you, speak up!  I hope to see you out this Thursday at our business after hours and hear your feedback.

But it’s not just what can we do for you – it’s what can we do together.  Where can we partner?  How can we best benefit our businesses?   The Chamber is already working hard for you – and we’re always looking to improve.


#WillistonChamber #WillistonWide

Unified for Growth

DSC_0141.JPGYesterday afternoon city, county, and state wide leaders all gathered around a piece of land in Williams County to commemorate the unified efforts of countless people to bring a regional airport to the Williston Area.  Even though you were slightly cold (ok almost freezing) hanging outside in a field on a very crisp windy day in Northwest North Dakota, you couldn’t help but feel the warmth of all those involved.

Our current mayor, Howard Klug, thanked numerous people in seeing this project to fruition, including past mayor Ward Koeser and state officials.  Governor Dalrymple, Senators Heitkamp and Hoeven, and Congressman Cramer all spoke to the importance of all entities working together for a project of this magnitude.  This is a turning point in our area’s growth.  Our neighbors to the south in Watford City and to the east in Tioga were there to celebrate as well.  Come 2018, when the project really gets underway there is no doubt in my mind it will bring so much to our area – jobs to build it, jobs to run it.  Numerous opportunities for current and future businesses and for our community.

The comradery between state, county, and city leaders was apparent.  But they don’t do this in a vacuum – they want and need the community’s input.  Further, these leaders are elected.   What’s great about our county and our democracy is that we have the privilege to vote.  Elect those locally that share your vision for the community and the region.  This Friday, the Chamber will host a candidate forum for those running for the District 2 County Commission seat.  Projects like the new airport will fall directly in the commission’s lap.  How will they work with the city on this?  How well do they partner?   Come to the forum to educate yourself on which candidate you feel would best serve our area.

You may not have been able to make the ground breaking, or maybe you’re not able to make a city commission meeting regarding the sign ordinance.  But guaranteed the Chamber is.  We are there for you – attending and advocating on your behalf.  As ‘The Champion of the Williston Area’s United Business Community’ we represent you and keep you informed on what is happening.  With all the growth in our community the city and county aren’t just stopping at a new airport.  Plans for the old airport are in the works.  And they have a comprehensive regional plan update that is in a public draft and comment stage.  See our newsroom for more information for public comment in November.

Stay informed.  Stay involved.  Come back to the Chamber website often – visit our newsroom section, blog, and calendar for more information not listed in our newsletter.  The Chamber is proud to partner with other entities to promote prosperity in Northwest North Dakota and to provide opportunities for you and your business.


Shop Williston Wide

About a month ago, I wrote about the importance of shopping local, if you haven’t read it, I hope that you go back and check it out.  And that you tell your friends.  Shopping in Williston isn’t like just going to a mall, but that shouldn’t stop you!  There are several different places to go…and along the way you may find other things to stop by and see.  To make it easier, particularly for those new to the area, the Chamber is coming out with a special map.  Partnering with Williston Economic Development, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Williston Downtowners Association we plan to arm shoppers with a handy tool that lists all the shopping available to you in the Williston Area.

We also plan to have a Chamber Coupon Corner on our website that our businesses can list their sales and/or coupons that customers can use.   As a Chamber member, your retail store is guaranteed to be listed on our map and working with our partners we plan to have as much listed as possible to direct people to where in Williston they can get what they need!

Like I said before, uniting our efforts to better serve you is a win for business, a win for the consumer, and a win for all.  This is a great community and we have the power to make it even greater!  Shop Williston Wide to make Williston Strong.

Keep an eye out for our retail map – out in your hands and at businesses by the holiday season!

As always, contact us if you have questions.


Rich Community

When you hear ‘non-profit’, you may not think of the word rich in the same sentence.  But if you consider all our non-profit organizations, you will see that we are indeed rich here in the Williston Area!  The Chamber is hosting an expo this weekend to showcase our rich community.   Come check it out for yourself – get connected with all the opportunity and organizations in our community.   Over 30 of our local nonprofit organizations will be available to you and your family throughout the day.  And what better place to host it than the National Guard Armory Gym!  To know that we have the proud legacy of the North Dakota Army National Guard right here in Williston makes us even richer – and safer!

I was lucky enough to be offered a chance to ride in a BlackHawk helicopter and tour Camp Grafton’s Regional Training Institute (RTI).   The ND Army National Guard is here to 14317371_10210751330599814_7775509508764765846_nprotect our state with disaster relief during state emergencies and to support the Army during a national emergency.  But that’s not all.  The RTI which was built at the Camp in 2010 has state of the art technology and over 12 classrooms.  They train how to be a soldier and vocation training through virtual training experiences and hands on learning.  I was surprised to see the soil lab, general construction and concrete labs for learning trades, and hear about even more in depth education such as engineering, electrical, plumbing, etc.!  I am grateful that SGT David Passmore offered me that experience so that I could let others know about it.  Although he couldn’t offer a 160 mph ride at 1,000 feet to Devil’s Lake, ND to everyone, he will be at the EXPO so that you can learn more.  The same is true of the other 34 organizations.

So come out on Saturday to the New Armory anytime from 9am-4pm.   Educate yourself on how rich and exciting our community is!  I bet you won’t walk away without being proud of our community and without some new information to know, remember, and share with others.  You will have the opportunity to help support these organizations as they support the community.


Keep Williston Strong – Shop local

If you’re like most people, you are shopping for the best deal.  And most people who have been here awhile may be used to traveling to other cities to shop…but did you know that the more you do that, the more you will HAVE to do that?  As a shopper you have buying power.  Literally.  When you shop local, your money stays local.  It supports your friends and neighbors who work at those stores.  It allows those businesses to support you:  then they can sponsor your child’s sporting team or donate to your Uncle’s cancer benefit.

The retail market is fierce.  Retailers compete on a global market now…compete with brand recognition, locations, brick and mortar, online, and more.  Williston retailers compete like other businesses, but they also compete with a general mindset that a few hours drive East has more and better.  Or the mindset that via online, you can save $5 and you don’t have to pay tax!  But those tax dollars, if purchased local, go to the firefighters putting out your fires and the policeman’s wages keeping you safe.  They go to fix the roads on your commute to work or restructure an intersection for better traffic flow.  Those tax dollars affect your property value as a local resident.  Can the business you go to east of Williston offer you that or do they just offer a door to walk through?

When Williston area retail and businesses are strong, we are all strong.  You can help keep our community and all that we have functioning and growing.  You can be apart of the reason we get more parks, better hospitals, community art centers or more!  You have the buying power!

The Williston Area Chamber is collaborating with retailers and city and county entities to help learn what customers are looking for and how retailers can improve.  We are heading the effort to unite our energies and pool our resources to better serve you.   Contact us if you have ideas or as a retailer want to be included in our plans.


It’s a win for business, a win for the consumer, and a win for the community.   So change your mindset!  The next time you look to make a purchase – look here!!  Check out the Chamber’s business directory…keep an eye out for what our retailers will be offering you.

Shop small. Shop local. Shop Williston!

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