Antelope Valley Power Plant in Beulah
Antelope Valley Power Plant in Beulah
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North Dakota Economy

From oil and gas production to renewable energies and tourism, North Dakota's economy is thriving.

Agriculture

Tourism

Coal and Coal Gasification

Oil and Gas

Renewable Energies

North Dakota is thriving. Since 2001, North Dakotans' personal income has grown nearly 25 percent and the gross state product has grown by 37 percent to more than $24 billion annually. North Dakota's major industries are agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, coal mining and conversion, oil and gas exploration, extraction and refining and exported services.

Agriculture

North Dakota is a prime exporter of agricultural products, taking the trophy in production of several crops. North Dakota ranks first in the production of flaxseed, canola, durum wheat, all dry edible beans, all dry edible peas, spring wheat, honey, lentils, sunflowers, barley and oats. The Red River Valley, the band of rich soil stretching 40 miles west of the Red River, is often called the "Breadbasket of the World."

Livestock production is second only to wheat in North Dakota's agricultural economy. It is most important in western North Dakota where the land is less suited for grain crops. The main livestock are beef, dairy cattle and hogs. The North Dakota Mill and Elevator is the only state-owned flour mill in the U.S. It produces Dakota Maid flour, which is sold across the nation and in the Caribbean.

North Dakota farmers and ranchers annually produce enough:

  • Wheat for 13.5 billion loaves of bread.
  • Potatoes for 192 million servings of french fries.
  • Durum for 6.3 billion servings of spaghetti.
  • Corn to produce 418 million gallons of ethanol.
  • Soybeans to make 251 billion crayons.
  • Sunflowers to fill 2.2 billion bags of sunflower seeds.
  • Beef for 113 million hamburgers.
  • Pork for 57 million pork chops.
  • Wool for 513,000 sweaters.
  • Milk for 1 billion glasses.

Tourism

Tourism is North Dakota's third-largest industry, with an estimated $4.6 billion spent in 2010. It is a vital part of our economy, not only because of the significant economic impact but because tourism delivers intangible benefits. Tourism is a lead generator and image builder for the state. By attracting visitors into North Dakota, tourism exposes new people to the state and helps showcase all of North Dakota's great qualities: legendary people, attractions, business climate and quality of life.

North Dakota led the nation in growth of travel spending, travel tax receipts, travel employment and travel payroll in 2008 and 2009. The state also leads in hotel occupancy.

North Dakota Tourism by the Numbers:

  • Travel and tourism is a $4.6 billion industry in North Dakota.
  • More than 16 million visitor trips are spent in North Dakota each year.
  • 1 out of every 12 workers owes their job to tourism in North Dakota.
  • Approximately $760 million in wages and salaries are generated through North Dakota tourism.
  • North Dakota travel generated $370 million in taxes.
  • If tourism didn't exist, each North Dakota household would pay an additional $646 in taxes.
  • Each visitor adds $83 to the gross state product.
  • Out-of-state visitors represent the largest portion of tourism expenditures in North Dakota;  69% of visitors are from out-of-state/out-of-country.

Coal and Coal Gasification

The first important mining operations in western North Dakota were sponsored by the North Pacific Railroad along its tracks in 1884.  Among coal-producing states, North Dakota ranks ninth and produces 3 percent of the nation's output. North Dakota has one of the world's largest deposits of lignite coal.

In 1981, the federal government approved a $2 billion loan for construction of America's first commercial-scale synthetic gas plant near Beulah.  Today, the Great Plains Synfuels Plant is owned by the Dakota Gasification Company and converts 18,000 tons of lignite into 160 million cubic feet of substitute natural gas daily.

Oil and Gas

North Dakota's oil reserves - known as the Bakken and the Three Forks formations - have been making headlines for their size and viability. Some reports estimate the Bakken Formation could boost the U.S.'s oil reserves by 10 times. Currently, an average of 218,000 barrels of oil are pumped from wells in North Dakota each day. In 2008, oil production became the No. 2 industry in North Dakota. The state is currently the second-largest oil producing state in the U.S.

Gas was first discovered in North Dakota in 1907. Today more of the state's natural gas is a by-product of oil production. More than 92 million cubic feet of natural gas is captured annually in North Dakota.

Renewable Energies

North Dakota is in the forefront in the search for renewable energy sources.

  • Windpower - North Dakota has an outstanding wind resource. Providing more available wind for development than any other state.
  • North Dakota's first wind farm, a 40-megawatt (MW) facility with 27 turbines, opened in 2003 near Edgeley.
  • North Dakota leads the nation in utility scale wind resource development potential.
  • North Dakota is currently ranked 11th in the nation in installed utility scale wind power. 
  • Nearly 500 wind towers have been erected in North Dakota, with major projects operating in seven North Dakota counties. 
  • One of the world's largest wind farms with more than 1,300 wind towers generating a total of 2,000 MW is proposed for Ward, Burke and Moutrail counties in northwestern North Dakota.  Currently, the 47,000-acre Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas is the world's largest wind farm with 421 turbines generating a total capacity of 735 MW.
  • GoE - North Dakota's own brand of ethanol-blended fuel.
  • The biodiesel industry is beginning to take hold with a canola-based biodiesel facility at Velva capable of producing 85 million gallons per year.
  • North Dakota State Univeristy estimates that bioenergy production has the potential to generate $800 million in direct annual contributions to North Dakota's economy.
  • Each year, North Dakota ethanol plants use 13 million bushels of corn grown by our farmers to produce 35 million gallons of GoE.
  • GoE production provides the third largest in-state market for corn.
     

Click here for more information on ethanol and North Dakota.

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