CHEROKEE, Iowa (AP) — Businesses in northwest Iowa are getting a boost when construction workers building the Dakota Access oil pipeline arrive in town.
Cherokee city manager Sam Kooiker tells the Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/2eHhygc ) the difference is clear downtown in the evenings when few parking spots are available.
“The impact is significant,” Kooiker said. “As a community, it’s been a net positive.”
The 1,200-mile pipeline is designed to carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. It has drawn opposition from people worried about potential effects on drinking water and tribal land, but the Energy Transfer Partners project is about 75 percent complete.
It’s hard to put an exact figure on the economic benefits, but Mark Buschkamp with the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corp. says it’s apparent at area businesses.
“When I drive in in the morning, I see all the construction rigs parked in hotel parking lots,” he said. “Our hotels are full. I see a lot of people in lines at the grocery store that I’ve never seen before.”
Lyon County Economic Development Director Steve Simons said that even without concrete figures, he knows businesses in the area saw a boost when pipeline workers arrived, especially in Inwood near the pipeline route.
“They did see a nice bump in business during the construction process,” he said.
In Buena Vista County, pipeline workers set up camp during construction.
“I know our campground is full. I know a lot of those people, when they come off of work, are in our restaurants and bars,” said Gary Lalone, executive director of Storm Lake United, a business development organization.
The city of Cherokee is considering leaving its Spring Lake Park campground open this winter to accommodate pipeline workers who have filled the campground’s 46 spots for most of the summer and fall. The campers pay either $15 a night or $320 a month.