State officials hope to have an energy impact coordinator appointed within the next one to two weeks to serve as a liaison between industry and leaders in western North Dakota and the governor’s office.
Ron Rauschenberger, chief of staff for Gov. Jack Dalrymple, said the governor’s office has been working with the North Dakota Department of Commerce to set up the position. Rauschenberger said there have been discussions with a few candidates for the position. The goal, he said, is to appoint someone as soon as possible.
“It has to be someone who’s very familiar with western North Dakota. He has to have a pretty wide knowledge of everything that’s going on out there,” Rauschenberger said.
The right person serving as energy impact coordinator should understand infrastructure and have knowledge of the oil and gas industry, Rauschenberger said. Someone with past oil and gas industry experience, or someone with engineering experience, also would be good, he added.
Rauschenberger noted that the person taking the position will be attending various city and county meetings. In addition, he will be meeting with local leaders and oil industry officials and reporting regularly to the governor and members of his cabinet.
“He’s going to be our eyes and ears out there,” Rauschenberger said.
Al Anderson, director of the North Dakota Department of Commerce, said the hope is to have a candidate ready to be announced in the next week or two.
“We really want to have that person to hit the ground running. It’s got to be someone that’s involved in the community,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the coordinator ideally would be someone who’s working, or retired, living in western North Dakota and for that person to already have a network of connections with local leaders, businesses and the oil and gas industry. He said the coordinator could be a former business person, a banker or even a former legislator residing in the area, for example.
“I’d say it needs to be an experienced individual. It wouldn’t be an entry-level job or someone new to the area,” Anderson said.
Williston Mayor Ward Koeser said having a coordinator would be very helpful in relaying information to the governor’s office.
“I think it’s a good idea. I would never have thought of that. We need a true pipeline from Williston to Bismarck,” Koeser said.
Koeser said a liaison would be able to gather information as well as offer a fresh perspective on the problems facing the region.
“You’re dealing with situations in almost a crisis mode. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees,” Koeser said. “It’s better late than never to have someone elses looking at the broad perspective.”