Cherokee, IA gets economic boost from Dakota Access pipeline con - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Cherokee, IA gets economic boost from Dakota Access pipeline construction


There are some new faces walking around Cherokee, Iowa.

They've lived there for three months, and they won't leave until the job is finished.

"When I go to the grocery store, I see people in line that I've never seen before," said Cherokee Area Economic Development Executive Director Mark Buschkamp. "When I go to a restaurant, I see people I've never seen before. And if you try to get a donut, or a slice of breakfast pizza at about 6:30 in the morning, good luck."

Since construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline moved into Cherokee County, this spring, the workers moved into Cherokee.

Hotels around town are fully-occupied, leaving a number of workers without a place to stay.

So, Tuesday night, the Cherokee City Council voted to extend its camping season through the winter, so workers could sleep in their campers.

More people means more money spent, locally. Retailers have nothing to complain about. 

"Your grocery stores, your gas stations, your restaurants are probably seeing, definitely seeing a benefit from the construction workers," said Buschkamp.

The pipeline isn't the only project inviting a steady stream of contractors.

Wind farm developments in O'Brien and Ida counties are also big contributors.

City officials say the local economy has to weigh so heavily on its agriculture business, at a time when commodity prices are sky high.

So they welcome the unexpected traffic with open arms. 

"We certainly welcome them and hope they continue to spend their money here," said Buschkamp. "And help pull up an economy that otherwise would really be suffering."

City officials don't expect the economic boost to stick around much longer.

Construction on the pipeline is set to finish up by the end of the year, so officials say when the workers leave, everything will return to normal.

For now, the community will appreciate the additional company.

Once the wind farm projects in O'Brien and Ida counties are complete, Cherokee officials say their own turbine development will begin in 2018.

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