Thursday, December 9, 2010

[Video] Need a Job? Head to Williston, North Dakota

Aside from the bifurcation of American society across specific demographic lines, we also have major variances among geographies.  Aside from some obvious examples (Manhattan, the area around the national spigot - Washington D.C., et al) one area doing well are places that make wealth the old fashioned way - producing things other people (countries) want.  Specific to the U.S. this would be the areas that are "Australian like" in nature - natural resource or agrarian heavy.  We talked about this in 2009 [Aug 2, 2009: Slice of Central US Safe from Recession Shrinking]

That prudent financial bent, matched with the high prices paid for crops and energy in the past few years, has largely protected Goshen County and a core group of several hundred other counties in 10 states from the recession's chokehold. The Associated Press Economic Stress Index shows they make up a "safe zone" that covers a long swath of middle America, from the Great Plains south to Texas. The contiguous counties in the safe zone start in Montana and North Dakota, and cascade into Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, and end in northern Texas and eastern New Mexico.

and 2008 [Jun 8, 2008: A Real Green Shoot - the Dakotas]

While some think this is the home of yellow or indeed brown shoots, I have no problem pointing out green shoots... as long as they are rooted in reality rather than hope. Even as we discussed the coming recession in 2007 (denied by politicians until late 2008, and denied by economists until 3rd quarter 2008) we said there would be regional pockets of strength. The upper plains is one of those regions; we can think of them as mini Australia's or Canada's. Resource heavy (producing product other countries actually want) & running fiscally tight ships.

Yesterday on CNBC was an interesting interview with the major of Williston, North Dakota - along with a fund manager who has morphed his fund into one that only invests in this broader region.   Williston has some 2000+ jobs waiting for anyone who wants to move - of course the climate might be a shock for some, but certainly there are pockets of strength in the U.S. especially in the plains states.  (note to Erin Burnett - I don't think North Dakota is considered the "Wild West")

As an aside the I looked up the fund which changed its focus to only invest in companies focused on the "Williston Basin" (lower Canada, Montana, both Dakotas) - Williston Basin/Mid-North America Stock Fund (ICPAX).  It has done very well, but essentially is a sector fund in this case.... in drag.  With a 5% front end load (and 0.50% 12b-1).  But can't argue with the results.  (fund profile here) (fund holdings here)

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