Bismarck Mayor John Warford and Mandan Mayor Arlyn Van Beek had to be smiling when they recently gave their State of the Cities remarks.
Both communities are in growth cycles — residential, business and population.
There is, in fact, cause to feel good about the present state of these sister cities and to be optimistic about their futures.
Of course, there are growing pains. But compared to many other cities in America, Bismarck and Mandan are looking good.
For many who live here, there’s no place they would rather be.
Warford suggested that Bismarck has reached a point in its growth where it’s largely self-sustaining. Last year, total employment in the city rose by 3 percent, which represents 2,000 new jobs.
“We have more jobs, better-paying jobs. If you don’t have the jobs, you don’t have economic growth,” Warford says — although we think Bakken crude might have something to do with the city’s economic vigor.
One measure of growth is building permits. Bismarck’s building permits for 2013 represent nearly
The story in Mandan echoes Bismarck’s experience.
“We have 17 new projects and 22 additions and remodels,” says Van Beek. What that amounts to is buildings going up worth $134 million in 2013.
In Bismarck and Mandan, there are construction sites wherever you go. And now with winter fast approaching, crews are trying to get enough done so they can work through the winter.
That beeping sound of heavy equipment backing up has become sort of a theme song for Bismarck-Mandan.
When it comes to economic and population growth, people are excited in Bismarck-Mandan.
They might have a bone to pick with the mayors when it comes to those growing pains. Residents have concerns about safety and crime, issues that often accompany growing cities. Property taxes, as always, are a cause of discontent. And city services are stretched by growth — think building inspectors and others.
These are all concerns that mayors should have, too. Certainly they are easier to fix in good times.
And like an adolescent whose arms and legs grow faster than the rest of him, parts of Bismarck and Mandan are growing at different rates.
Eventually, we hope, it will all fit together as the two cities mature overll.
Warford and Van Beek have it right. The cities are doing rather well.
It’s worth smiling about.