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What non-oil businesses thrive in an oil economy?

Dan Boyce

(Note: This is the third of a six-part series on "Bakken Spinoffs" airing Thursdays through January 9th on "Montana Evening Edition.")

Sidney, Montana and other towns surrounding the Bakken Oil Boom are seeing rapid growth and businesses of all kinds are benefitting from the influx of new people following the oil.

Reynold’s Market, a Sidney grocery store in operation since 1925, just moved to a new location twice the size of their old place. The number of workers there bumped up from about 60 to 140.

Hotel chains are expanding. Republican State Representative Austin Knudsen said a brand new extended stay hotel opened up in his tiny home town of Culbertson, not too far from the new Napa Auto Parts or the Fracking Java coffee shack.

“There’s certainly a diversity of things going on out here, it’s not just oil driving the economy out here at this point,” he said.

The gas is more expensive. Landlords can charge $1000 a month to rent an apartment, or $2000. That’s good for landlords and some business owners, but not for everyone.

Credit Dan Boyce
Reynold's cashier Jennifer McGahan says many businesses and locals are being hurt by the boom.

“You should be asking about all the businesses that have closed because the landlords raised their rent so high that they can’t afford to stay in business anymore,” said Reynold’s Market cashier Jennifer McGahan. “One is the bean baggie, it was a coffee house.”

She said other places are closing because they can’t pay workers enough anymore.

“Nobody’s going to work for $11 or $12 an hour,” she said.

Meanwhile, Marvelee Fink, 81, was buying boxes of Ramen Noodles at a checkout stand. She said she was giving them to the local food bank.

Turns out that’s another place with increasing demand.

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