A busy summer
A busy summer
The population in Rugby will swell over the next few months – a product some significant construction projects and tourism.
“It’s definitely going to be busy around here,’ said Don Sobolik, executive director of the Geographical Center Chamber of Commerce.
Already there is construction crews in the area working on the large wind farm being constructed north of Rugby, as well as paving and road crews in the city of Rugby for its street improvement project.
Although it’s hard to determine just how many workers will be staying in the area, but it’s a safe bet it will be well over 200. Sobolik said the bulk of the workers involved in the wind farm will be coming in June. That’s when the 71 large wind towers will be erected.
Many workers have rented apartments, homes or trailers for the next few months, Sobolik said. Others are staying in motels, or at camp sites.
Certainly the economic impact of the workers will be significant for Rugby. In addition to the housing, they will no doubt be eating in restaurants, purchasing groceries, shopping at retail stores, frequenting other businesses and taking in community evens. Sobolik said it’s important for the community to be a good host, and leave a positive impression.
Additionally, June is the beginning of more travelers passing through the area, and a good number stop in Rugby to stay, put on gas, or take in some tourist attractions.
Sobolik said an encouraging sign is gas prices are over $1 less than at this time a year ago. Last year’s high gas prices was attributed to a drop in visitors to some area attractions. “Hopefully, the lower gas prices will encourage more to travel,’ he said.
Another factor to consider is the Canadian currency exchange rate and new border crossing requirements. The exchange is about 20 percent, which is about where it’s been the past year. Rugby often sees a its fair share of Canadian visitors.
Beginning in June, travelers entering this country must possess a passport book or card. Whether that will deter people coming down from Canada or going to Canada remains to be seen. Rugby’s proximity to the International Peace Garden also means a lot of traffic passes through town to and from the Garden. And whether those new travel requirements will affect the number tourism to that site, time will tell.
Tourism remains the second biggest industry in North Dakota, and an important one for the Geographical Center. And if the weather conditions could only improve, this has the makings of one to remember.
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