The Black Hills region continues to attract new employers that service the energy industries in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The latest addition is a tank-making company that is coming to Belle Fourche and bringing as many as 65 new jobs.
The Governor's Office of Economic Development said Tuesday that Texas-based Permian Tank & Manufacturing will expand its above-ground steel storage tank operations in Belle Fourche in the coming months.
Confirmation of the new employer came a day after the Belle Fourche City Council approved giving two lots in the city's new Industrial Rail Park lots to the community's new development company.
The new plant will anchor the recently developed industrial park that offers both major highway and rail access. The new plant could require up to 65 new employees; hiring is scheduled to begin next spring.
Permian Tank began operations in 1976 as a steel tank fabricator. In 1985 it added a fiberglass division. The firm has expanded to become one of the largest manufacturers of steel and fiberglass oil storage tanks, gun barrels, heater-treaters, separators and free water knockouts in the United States.
The company's expansion to Belle Fourche will initially include a steel tank manufacturing facility. The firm has plans to expand the facility to produce a complete line of products serving the oil and gas exploration and production industry.
Company officials said Belle Fourche was chosen because it is near Bakken, Niobrara and Green River oil field activities in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
“Belle Fourche is developing a quality industrial park with rail service, along with other local incentives,” said Dan Edling, vice president of Strategy and Planning for Permian.
Edling said the company looked long and hard at whether the Belle Fourche area could provide enough trained workers. That has been a concern many industrial firms have expressed when looking at locating in South Dakota, which has a low unemployment rate and a shortage of skilled workers.
“One of our major concerns was the availability of qualified employees,” Edling said. “We are confident that the region will be able to accommodate our employment needs. The people of Belle Fourche are quality individuals.”
Edling said the quality of life in Belle Fourche also played a key role in the company’s decision.
“I can see Belle Fourche is a family-friendly community," he said. "The quality of life is unmatched.”
Permian is the first firm to commit to the new industrial park, which offers access to rail and major highway corridors. The city is spending $4.5 million to add streets, water and sewer utilities to the industrial park; electric and gas utilities also have committed to expanding service for the park.
The park is located between U.S. Highway 212 and the DM&E Railroad tracks east of U.S. Highway 85.
The new Butte County Rail Authority can help to arrange a rail spur to manufacturers or transportation firms in the new park. The authority is less than a year old and was created in a split from the local chamber of commerce. It receives city financial support to push growth in the new industrial park.
The city made a conscious decision to take advantage of the city's location near the North Dakota oil fields to promote development, but officials say they are not promoting a "boom town" environment.
A Northern Hills connection played a major role in the Permian decision, according to the governor's office. Terry Jacobson, who was raised in Lead, is a corporate attorney for the company who first suggested that the company look at the Black Hills area for expansion.
Local officials welcomed the firm.
“The city of Belle Fourche is very excited,” said Belle Fourche Mayor Gary Hendrickson. “Permian Tank recognizes the value of the location of the new industrial park. We are confident Permian will jump start new business for the industrial park. Permian Tank’s reputation goes a long way.”