The City of Williston
Situated at the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, Williston, North Dakota, covers 23 square miles and is the county seat of Williams County. Located just 60 miles from the Canadian border and 18 miles from the Montana border, Williston is commonly referred to as the “Western Star” and takes pride in its western heritage. The City is recognized as a regional center for business, leisure, and economic development. Residents and visitors alike enjoy convenient access to extraordinary historic sites, world-class hunting and fishing, and beautiful national and state parks.
Due to its proximity to the Yellowstone and Missouri, the Williston area has been a booming commerce center for centuries, earning the nickname “Boomtown” early on in its history. It was a gathering place for the earliest inhabitants of the plains and a rendezvous point for fur traders and explorers. It has drawn together generations of agricultural producers. Today, with the Bakken oil formation, Williston is home to hardworking residents making North Dakota the nation’s second largest oil-producing state.
While population growth in the area has started to normalize, the City of Williston experienced explosive growth over the past several years due to increased activity in the oil and gas industry. The City has grown 210% in size since 2010, jumping from a population of 12,120 to 27,500 currently. This prosperous community has managed its incredible growth issues with great success, being named the fastest growing micropolitan (cities under 50,000) in the nation for the last five years.
Williston’s economy is built on oil, agriculture, and tourism. It is home to over 200 oil service companies. Several of the top ten oil service companies in the world have operations in Williston.
The City aggressively pursues development and improvement opportunities. Currently, it is following a five-year infrastructure improvement plan totaling more than $1 billion including a new airport, Waste Water Treatment Plant, surface transportation, public fire and safety building expansions, and quality of life enhancements. Williston is currently in the process of relocating the Sloulin Field Airport. This will free up 800 acres, resulting in a significant redevelopment opportunity for the community. In conjunction with this effort, Williston has entered into a public-private partnership with Cardon Global to assist in the Sloulin redevelopment project, which will include a ten-year economic diversification plan for the area.
Leisure and recreation opportunities abound in Williston. The amazingly designed course of the Links of North Dakota appeals to golfers of every skill level and has been ranked one of the “Top 100 Modern Courses” by Golf Week. Residents and visitors marvel at the $74 million Williston Area Recreation Center (ARC) which provides opportunities to participate in virtually any sport and activity, including indoor surfing, zero depth pool, water slides, and a lazy river.
Hikers and water sport enthusiasts enjoy the self-guided nature trails and marina at Lewis and Clark State Park. Fishing in the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers and Lake Sakakawea is a popular past-time amongst visitors and residents and there are ample opportunities for hunting waterfowl, upland game, pronghorn, whitetail and mule deer. There are also many opportunities for recreation during the winter months, including ice fishing, indoor archery, curling facilities, and two indoor ice arenas for youth and adult hockey and skating activities.
The City offers a variety of cultural and historical experiences for all ages. The James Memorial Art Center is housed in what was once the City’s first library, and it showcases professional art exhibits, offers art education for adults and children, and provides a venue for community functions and events. Entertainment, Inc!, a local non-profit arts organization, offers artistic entertainment, programs, and services to provide an educational outlet for individuals and groups within the community and is the arts and culture leader for the region. Historical sites of interest around the area include the Fort Union Trading Post, Fort Buford, and the Missouri Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center.
Williston’s education needs are met by Williston Public School District #1, which consists of six elementary schools, a middle school, a new high school, and an alternative school, and New Public School District #8, which serves students in surrounding rural areas. Enrollment has increased 64% since 2007, and a new $56 million high school opened in the fall of 2016. Area private schools include Trinity Christian School, serving K-12, and St. Joseph’s Catholic School, serving K-6.
For those seeking higher education, Williston State College operates a two-year public community college in the North Dakota University System. The college is one of eleven institutions under the jurisdiction of the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education. Williston State offers free first year tuition to Williston high school graduates.
The City is within easy distance of several excellent healthcare facilities. Located in town, CHI St. Alexius Health and Trinity Community Clinic equipped with advanced medical technology and staffed by a team of skilled healthcare professionals providing comprehensive hospital and clinical services to the region.
The City's median income is $74,620 and the average home value is $275,000.
Click here to view the digital version of the 2019 Williston Visitor's Guide!
Governance and Organization
The City of Williston operates under the governance of a Commission, made up of five members, one of which is the President or Mayor. Members are elected at-large and serve four-year terms with no limits. The Commission is the legislative body of the City and is responsible for taxation, appropriations, ordinances, and other general functions.
Individual Commissioners are assigned executive responsibility for specific portfolios of municipal functions.
City Departments include:
Convention & Visitors Bureau
Planning & Zoning