Mandatory! Please read to avoid potential penalties for your business…

Catchy title, I know.  I had to make sure I had your attention, but of course I want to make sure that your business does not incur any penalties and interest.  Last legislative session, House Bill 1296 was passed which requires electronic filing for ALL quarterly reports.  Additionally, the bill requires electronic payment of unemployment insurance taxes.  Previously, small businesses (less than 25 employees) were not required to file electronically, but come first quarter of 2018, it will be MANDATORY for EVERYONE.  Since over 70% of our members are small businesses, I thought the issue warranted a blog at the very least.

In the state of ND, by law, employers must pay unemployment insurance for their employees – regardless if their company is actually located in North Dakota.  As long as their employees are working here they must pay.  Job Service of North Dakota has information on how to file and pay your quarterly contribution reports and are encouraging you to begin filing electronically 3rd quarter of 2017.

As employers, you will need to register on the Job Service website on the UI Easy logo and register for a state of North Dakota login and password if you don’t already have one.  Once you file electronically, you will be prompted to pay electronically…hopefully, getting this information out to you early, will help you avoid the potential of penalties and interest.

There is helpful information on their website and you can contact the Williston Job Service Field Representative Lacey Durden.


Reflections on my first year

Three hundred sixty-five days ago today was my first day on the job here at the Chamber.  Yesterday, I was all ready to blog about how the Chamber is advocating and promoting this already vibrant business community but the fire last night took the wind out of my sails.  For those who have lived here longer than I it probably felt even more like a punch in the gut.  The loss of something so iconic and dear to the community will be hard to overcome.

Still I know that, eventually, it will be ok.  Because after a year of getting to know more of the business owners, employees, and citizens of this community I am confident in that.  There is a lot of wonderful people living and working here who selflessly donate their time, talents, and treasures to those in need.  It is a great joy for me to be able to promote that – not only to our area, but to the entire state.

There are so many great things happening in the Williston Area.   Your membership in the Chamber helps us to support, promote, and grow this business community.  The Chamber exists to help connect you, advocate for you, provide education and business development options, and promote you.  There is strength in numbers.  The bigger we grow the stronger we become and that’s why we developed our Member Referral Program.  It’s important that we are all united and working toward the same end…a strong community.

Of course, there will always be struggles, challenges, and changes along the way.  But being a part of something as wonderful as this community makes it all worthwhile because you know your community will be behind you.

It has been a privilege to work for you, our members.  My goal when I first started last year was to get out and meet ALL the members.  One year into it, I haven’t reached my goal….YET.  It is still my goal.  I care about all of you and your businesses and I look forward to meeting those I haven’t yet.   The Chamber exists for you and I’m grateful to be working on your behalf!



It’s a tagline that got stuck in my head when our retail committee started meeting last fall.  To me, it encompasses the Chamber’s mission of being the champion of our united business community and is inclusive to all businesses in the Williston Area.

Now, whether or not anyone uses the tagline except for me is another story.  But know that it is always in the back of my mind.  I hope it can be for you too.  Last fall I wrote a blog about shopping local.  I almost want to re-blog it because it is still true.  Supporting local businesses that employ your neighbor and give back to the community should be our focus.  By supporting local businesses, you create a stronger community.  You have the choice.  Just like Explosive Enterprises owners Adam Natwick and Simon Fisher who chose to donate fireworks so that the people living and working in Williston Area could celebrate our country’s Independence Day with the proper excitement.  It displays what I already know about the businesses in this community – they care.  Who wouldn’t want to support that?

This weekend is our big Rockin Ribfest event – I hope you come out to it.  We partnered this year with members Patriot Productions and Black Magic Harley Davidson along with countless sponsors to create an even bigger event for the community.  In conjunction, area retailers have collaborated to have a clearance event.  I hope you take advantage of the sales and support the local businesses.  I hope that you took my suggestion the other day and supported those businesses being affected by the US 2 road closure – particularly those on Reiger Dr. even if it is a little inconvenient.  And I hope that you think twice about what you purchase and decide to purchase it here.

This community has grown so much over the recent past years.  I’d venture to say that there are many new shops and businesses out there that you aren’t even aware of – or ones that have expanded to offer you more.  You can always check out our member directory online or refer to the retail map that went out in the Herald.  It’s important to patronize our local businesses.  The more you do, the more you’ll see your community flourish.



I am a big fan of Donald Trump’s campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again’.  Not because America ever ceased to be great, but because it recognizes a divided county and moreover recognizes that with unified Americans working together we can certainly become greater.  The thing to realize is that if we put in the daily effort, each of us can learn, grow, and become greater.  Asking what else can I do; how can I improve myself and my community will take you to places beyond what you imagined.

One real tangible way to accomplish this is through the Chamber’s Leadership Williston Program.  I briefly mentioned it in my last column but it’s long history is noteworthy enough to warrant more explanation.  For over 20 years, it has shaped not only those who joined the program, but our community and region as well.  Over 170 individuals have been affected by this program and in turn affected countless others.   In a historically ag driven economy, Williston knows how to plan, nurture, and harvest a crop.  The Leadership program proves we can do this with more than wheat.  Most alumni of the program now hold leadership positions in their jobs and in the community.  Many are active on important boards.  They are doing their part to shape our influential part of the world.  Leadership graduates understand when you help others, you better yourself.

There is nothing worth achieving without sacrifice and the Leadership Williston program requires a significant commitment from not only themselves but their employers as well.  The really good news is that Williston employers have consistently shown they understand the bottom line value to dealership development.  The program, open to all, consists of 13 sessions from October through April, as participants learn the ins and outs of our community in a hands-on way.  Each participant is required to complete a service project.  Past projects such as Downtown Beautification, Frisbee Golf course and Dog park at Spring Lake Park, and Marketplace for Kids are still being utilized today!  It’s like the pay it forward concept.  It can’t help but breed progress.  It’s a fantastic program – I encourage you to consider it or if you are an alumnus of the program – encourage someone around you to apply.  Don’t just take my word for it – it’s fairly easy to find a graduate of the program to ask them how they were impacted.  You can always contact the Chamber with any questions.  Applications for the program will be available next month.  My only regret is that we cannot allow more people in each year.

“Good Leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.”  John D. Rockefeller

Our community is what we make of it.  Let’s make our community not just great – but superior.


Evolving Community, Regional Front-Runner

The perception of Western North Dakota from outsiders is vastly different from reality.  Even from our ND neighbors in the East.  I wrote about this before how people don’t really understand this until you are here.  The inaccurate national news media frenzy of the boom fueled this misunderstanding.  Once you are here, however, you meet the people who have made this their home.  They are hardworking, caring, and survivors.  Harsh winters and summer mosquitoes are not easy to live with, yet, we are stronger for it.

The activity level is on the rise.  The change is palpable.  Not just structurally with all the infrastructure projects around the area but with the anticipation of the future.  This past Wednesday the city hosted the second public meeting regarding the new airport project and the Sloulin Field redevelopment.  Both of these projects are crucially significant to our regional economy moving forward.

The new airport will be a not just be a nice convenience for travel – able to offer the region closer and easier options to people visiting here and for visit others.  It will open up a wide variety of economic options that up until now, have not even been imagined.   The Sloulin Field site offers prime space in town that will be available to provide amenities, services, commerce to meet the growing demand.

Thanks to the leadership at the city, county, and state level all working hard on our behalf, this is now a reality…coming to fruition within a few years.  At the same time, it is a model for a growing community for the next several generations.  The engagement of our youth and different leaders now is critical to help ensure the community continues to grow and thrive.

To this end, the Chamber’s Leadership and Education committee provides opportunities for both youth and people in this community intended to form leaders in our community.  You may not be involved directly with the Lemonade Day program, Leadership Williston, and others but in your own small way you can be:

  • Come out around town on June 17th and visit some lemonade stands to support our budding entrepreneurs.
  • Learn about all the great work being done around this community at our non-profit expo in July. Perhaps your or your business wants to give back or support them with your time as a volunteer.
  • Think twice before you order something online and see if you can get it here at a local business. Support those businesses that support our economy and our community.
  • Consider your friend, neighbor, kids or grandkids that have the potential and drive to become our next group of leaders. Maybe they could benefit from either Lemonade Day or Leadership Williston and encourage them to get involved to shape our future.

I know I’ve said it before, but it’s still true:  This is an exciting time to be living and working in the Williston Area.  This is a fantastic community and I am grateful to be involved!


Road Construction – unavoidable this summer

It seems almost everywhere you go around town you will run into some detour or construction.  Reconstructing roads and changing infrastructure may be a necessity considering not only the past growth of the area but future growth as well.   It doesn’t make life any easier in the short term, however.  Especially for business owners.  Local businesses have local people as employees and help the local economy which is vital to providing the quality of life in our community that we are used to.

The US 2 closure earlier this month has made it more difficult for people to get to the businesses they are used to driving by.  Now it takes more work for the consumer to get to them.  Working with the construction and project managers, the Chamber and business owners have asked for more signage to help direct people.  Still, some people would rather avoid the trouble altogether.  And that affects business.  Taking the 11th detour at the roundabout on 32nd you can still access Mattress Firm, Riddles Jewelry, Sakura Steakhouse, Sportsman’s Warehouse, and Starboard.  On the south side of US 2 the frontage road offers access to member businesses Agri Industries, American Welding & Gas, and OK Tire.

Particularly difficult is the way for those trying to get to the chamber member businesses on Reiger Dr.: Jiffy Lube, Culver’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, BeMobile, Batteries Plus.  Those businesses are still open and eager for your business!

And if downtown Main Street hasn’t seen enough of a disruption a few years ago, they are now facing another one beginning next week.  From 6th Street to Front street, one block at a time going south, there will be disruptions to Main Street.  Sometimes even closing some of the intersections for a few days at a time.  But again, you will still be able to access Chamber member businesses like American State Bank & Trust, Basin Brokers, Books on Broadway, Castle Framing, Cedar Chest, Cooks on Main, Cugini Italian Bistro, Gate City Bank, Hedderich’s Art and Trade Center, Jackie’s Therapeutic Massage, Little Muddy Gifts, North Dakota Guaranty & Title Co., Mode, Maurice’s, The Renaissance Companies, Ritter Brothers, Salvation Army, the Senior Center, and US Bank…just not necessarily how you are used to.

Other projects have affected how you get to Dakota Prints, Duane’s Radiator Shop and Dawa as another example.

Hopefully, it is something that you can be understanding of – that although it may be a little bit of a hassle, you can still get there.  I urge everyone to be a little more tolerant and cautious while driving through.  Support the businesses as best you can.  I also encourage you to make it a point to visit them and see how they are doing.  This is our community and supporting each other is the right thing to do.  It will make us an even stronger community.

This too shall pass.

My mom used to say that to me often as a child.  And it will.  Hopefully, the weather cooperates and they can finish the road construction projects on time.  No doubt, new projects will pop up somewhere else next summer or even later this summer.  But keeping in mind that ‘this too shall pass’ and supporting each other during the difficult times is the best way to get through it…for everyone.


Veteran’s Assistance Funds

One of the long-standing committees of the chamber has been the Military Affairs Committee (MAC).  This committee works to assist local military and veterans’ organizations to recognize and respect our military heritage in Northwest North Dakota.  The MAC actively supports local veterans, military, their families, the businesses that employ them, and the communities in which they live and work.  Yearly, they host events and projects throughout the year:  golf tournament, Patriot Award at our Annual Banquet, the Avenue of Flags, Veteran’s Day programs and more.

Like those who serve or have served in the military, the committee (consisting mostly of veterans themselves) labor to assist those who have selflessly served this country.  One of these lesser known ways is through the Veteran’s Assistance Funds.  Thanks to generous sponsors like the Williston Basin Chapter API and Red River Supply, veterans in need of help can come to the Williams County office and request gift cards for meals, gas, and other needs.  The committee works to ensure there is much support for our veterans – especially the homeless vets.  MAC has seen a downturn in requests for funds, but that does not mean the need has gone down.  There are many people out there that do not know what is available to them.  Like Red River Supply, there are also many veteran friendly businesses and veteran owned businesses in this community.  Thanks to Jim Swartout, owner of ND Flagpole Guy, each Lemonade Stand this year will proudly display the American flag.  This is just one example.   To all those businesses, to the committee members, and to all veterans – a sincere Thank You.  You make the world and our community a safer and better place and for that we are grateful.

Please help us spread the word on what the Military Affairs Committee is doing and contact the Chamber to contribute to the cause.


My Favorite Chamber Function

‘You can keep going long after you think you can’t.’  I’ve been saying this to myself so long I don’t remember if this is my own quote or not.  But it is most certainly a lesson I learned in high school sports.  I can still recall: after a three hour (hard) practice you think it’s the last time and you push with all your might to finish, then exhausted, you fall to the ground.  Coach says good job…. now DO IT AGAIN! You feel like you want to give up or that you physically just can’t.

But then you do.  And you do that several times a week.  You keep going and you keep getting better.   In high school, I had a fantastic coach who spent so much of her own time to get us to where we could win championships.  I didn’t realize the impact this had on me or how much of a life lesson it turned out to be for me until later in life.  It was a priceless experience.

I try to keep this in mind as it has such practical applications for life both personally and professionally.   So often, life tries to throw things at you especially in business – technical issues, loss of employees, vendor rate increases, etc. that you can often feel like you just can’t do it.  But you can.  The more you keep going, the more you succeed.  “Success doesn’t always require getting things done right, but it does require always getting things done”.  This quote isn’t my own, but it’s up there with the other one as something I remind myself of often.

Once I realized how much that lesson stuck with me, I reached back out to my old coach years after college just to thank her.  We all have people in our lives that help us out at one stage or another.  In our businesses, it’s no different.   The connections we make through the Chamber and this business community are critically important, especially for those times that you feel like you can’t.  We are here as a united business community to help ourselves but to help each other.  It’s one of my favorite functions of the Chamber.

Remember: you can keep going…and if you need help – call us!  We’re here for you!


2017 Rockin’ Ribfest – classic, yet new and improved

Rockin'_Ribfest_logo_CMIK_gorOur Ribfest, just like the Chamber itself, has seen many transitions.  It started as a Blast and was located downtown, then due to various reasons the location and even the event itself has changed over the years.  This year will be no different.  The programs and services committee and staff took feedback from both rib teams and attendees of the past years to really determine the best way to execute this event for all.  But I assure you the changes will be welcomed.

First, we decided to switch it back to a Saturday.  This will allow for more rib teams and for more attendees than during the work week.  Second, we decided to look back to our Blast Era days to really make it a community wide event and one for the whole family.   Third, we collaborated with a fellow chamber member business, Patriot Productions, to help us take the event to the next level.  We are proud to say that this event will be Rockin’ for two days – located at another chamber member business – Black Magic Harley-Davidson!  There will be a Monster Truck show, a car & bike exhibition the Friday night before (July 7th) and live music.  Then early morning, Saturday, July 8th the rib teams will begin cooking.  Shortly after that plan to come by with the whole family and stay for all the activities.  The car & bike exhibition will still be there, along with a pit party and a chance for Monster Truck ride alongs, kid’s activities and more.  The Rib tasting and judging will be late afternoon, then monster truck show, and more live music from Slamabama!

More information will be forthcoming as the committee continues to work on details…but rest assured it will be a Ribfest to remember!  Contact the chamber today to have a rib team or to be a sponsor.  There will literally be something for everyone:  every business, every community member.  It illustrates our strengths as a united business community.   Businesses coming together for a great way to network with your fellow employees but also for anyone and everyone to taste the ribs and spend a day enjoying family friendly entertainment.

So mark July 7th/8th on your calendars as a must not miss event!



Registration is Open!

Yesterday, the Lemonade Day flyer came home in my son’s backpack. Although I knew it was coming, it was still fun to see my son so excited about it…even more so because it happens to transpire on his birthday!  I guess we will have to plan his party for the weekend before.

Two months ago, I blogged about the Lemonade Day program and fostering the young entrepreneur and more recently, DAWA Solutions blogged about it as well.  If you follow our Facebook page, you’ll see that Mayor Klug proclaimed June 17th, 2017 as Williston Lemonade Day this past month.  This national program brought to our area for the 3rd year in a row offers opportunities for families and businesses – the whole community in fact – to foster the kind of foundation our youth need to become successful citizens.  It is a fantastic, hands-on educational program and I am truly excited to be involved this year.

This week marked opening of registration – it is free!!  It can be done online or in person at the Chamber or any of the following registration events:

April 22nd at the Raymond Center – Kids Day out (10am-2pm)

May 6th at the Arc (10am-2pm)

May 13th at Band Day (10 am-4pm)

June 3rd at the Arc (10am-2pm)

If you register online, you can simply pick up your backpacks at the chamber or the above events.

Lemonade Day Backpack for blog

Thanks to the generosity of many area businesses even the backpacks and materials are free.  Some businesses can help by offering their business as a safe stand location (we are still looking for more – contact Bekka  if you are interested).   The event is also fueled by the many volunteers on our Leadership and Education committee, the Williston Young Professionals and of course our chamber staff.    Like the old saying goes, it takes a whole village to raise a child:  join in on the community fun this summer.  There is a way for all to be involved – especially taste testing lemonade.

We already signed Dean up!  Come by the Chamber on June 17th to see us!


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