Williston STAR Fund provides stellar impact on community development

By Barbara Peterson, Marketing Coordinator, Williston Economic Development

Katie Kringen opened Chatter Pediatric Therapy in 2015. The business quickly outgrew the office in her husband’s motorsports store, and thanks to the STAR Fund, she was able to put in an offer on an office building. Today, she employs 10 highly trained pediatric therapists.

The Williston STAR Fund is having a stellar impact on community development.

The Williston City Commission has awarded nearly $1 million in STAR Fund grants to 30 businesses since June of 2017. The grants are aiding projects totaling almost $12 million in the Williston trade region.

The projects include daycare centers, a trucking company, an ethnic food market, a veterinary clinic, an oilfield company, cross fit gyms, and others.

“The dividends of STAR Fund investments are significant,” said Williston Economic Development executive director Shawn Wenko. “Residents benefit through increased quality of life, and the city as a whole profits as more businesses contribute to property taxes.”

The STAR Fund is financed through the Williston one cent sales tax. Seventy-five percent of the sales tax proceeds are dedicated to critical infrastructure projects and property tax relief though debt reduction, while the remaining 25 percent is allocated to community and economic development projects.

Wenko said the program has helped businesses either startup or expand despite the challenges of doing business in a lively community.

“In areas of high activity, one can experience higher-than-average costs of doing business,” said Wenko. “Program assistance through the STAR Fund helps alleviate some of the cost-related issues and helps ensure a successful business venture.”

Chatter Pediatric Therapy is one business that has utilized the STAR Fund to expand. Katie Kringen opened the private practice in 2015 inside her husband’s motorsports store by converting an office into a one-room clinic.

“Only in Williston could you buy a four-wheeler and receive speech therapy in one building,” laughed Kringen.

But it didn’t take long for Kringen’s practice to outgrow her small space at Mondak Sports. Within two years she and her husband Josh made an offer on an office building for Chatter. Kringen Holdings, LLC applied for the Flex PACE Interest Buy-Down Program and received $72,000 from the STAR Fund and $133,714 from the Bank of North Dakota to buy down the interest on the $1.3 million project.

“Every dollar that is invested in programs like the Flex PACE, sees roughly two dollars contributed through the Bank of North Dakota,” said Wenko.

Today, Chatter employs 10 highly trained pediatric therapists that offer physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, feeding therapy, ABA therapy, child psychology, and nutrition counseling. The clinic serves families from as far away as Dickinson, ND and Glendive, MT.

The Williston STAR Fund is administered by a seven-member board. The board meets monthly at Williston Economic Development. The board’s recommendations are subject to approval by the Williston City Commission.

To learn more about the STAR Fund programs, visit willistondevelopment.com, or call 701-577-8110.

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