(Dickinson ) The ND Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties and the Southwest Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zone recently received word that they will be the recipients of federal and state grant dollars to address critical planning issues in the nineteen county area affected by oil and gas production. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the ND Energy Development Infrastructure and Impact Grant fund are awarding a combined total of a $1.8 million grant to create locally-based strategic plans that address economic and infrastructure development.The competition for the federal funding was fierce as HUD received approximately 468 applications requesting more than $500 million in funding from communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. According to HUD, approximately 12% of applicants received funding. An additional local in-kind match of $600,000 will bring the planning dollars for this particular project to $2.4 million.“This grant comes at a critical time in the development of our region,” says Vicki Steiner, Executive Director of the ND Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties. “Small communities in the region are struggling to address the rapid growth caused by oil exploration. This grant will help us create a grass roots effort to address the issues and create a road map for the future.”The grant will help fund a series of local meetings to be held in each participating county to receive public input, create local and regional strategic plans for growth, compile municipal infrastructure needs, and identify best practices for local planning policy and codes.

Shirley Brentrup, Executive Director of the Southwest REAP Zone notes, “The southwest area has not yet experienced the intense activity that the northwest region has, however, it is vital that we plan now for future activity in the area. This project will work towards inclusion of existing planning activities and will provide opportunities to identify and clarify regional needs and provide for planning across county lines. The final document will look down the road 20 years from now and visualize what our rural cities can be for all industries and residents with a solid plan of how to get there.”

A formal press conference will be held Tuesday, November 22 at 10:30 MST at the Dickinson City Hall to announce the grant award.