Line 3 Replacement: An economic windfall for small-town North Dakota

$69-million project leaves construction-related community prosperity in its wake

About 400 construction workers recently packed up their tools and departed the northeastern corner of North Dakota.

What did they leave behind? A state-of-the-art energy pipeline—and plenty of community prosperity.

In mid-October, Enbridge announced that the 12-mile section of our Line 3 Replacement Project in North Dakota was substantially complete. Construction began in August and wrapped up two months later, with a $69-million private investment in state energy infrastructure—spent in communities like Cavalier (population 1,300) and Drayton (population 1,000).

“Our local economy has really seen a positive impact. We’ve seen a big influx of people spending money. Our housing market is full, the grocery store is seeing a lot of positive impact, the hardware store is seeing a lot of positive impact, the restaurants, everywhere,” said Lacey Hinkle, Mayor of Cavalier. “We’re happy to have them all here.”

Adds Judy, who has farmed with her husband Mike for 35 years near Drayton: “Enbridge brings economic traffic to our community. It’s wonderful what it does for our small town of Drayton. It brings in people that fill our campgrounds, it helps our grocery store, our restaurants. It’s such a blessing for our community.”

Enbridge has proudly been fueling quality of life in the Upper Midwest for 70 years. The $2.9-billion Line 3 Replacement Project is a safety and maintenance-driven project—replacing 34-inch pipe with new 36-inch pipe across North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and ensuring the region stays connected to secure, reliable and growing supplies of North American crude oil.

Small communities like Drayton and Cavalier saw construction-related gains for local communities along the replacement route through retail sales, food and accommodation needs, and equipment and materials purchases.

“I’ve seen a lot of people very happy to see (Enbridge workers and contractors) in town, and the way that everybody is supporting local businesses. People are super excited,” remarks Rachel Morrison, director of the Cavalier Area Chamber. “Seeing that investment put into our community by Enbridge, it kicked things off on a positive note and it just kept going.”

The 337-mile section in Minnesota is now the only part of Line 3 yet to be replaced with new state-of-the-art pipe. This $2.6-billion private investment in the state will bring 4,200 family-sustaining construction jobs and an estimated $162 million in construction related gain for local economies at a time when Northern Minnesota needs it most.

Enbridge also pays more than $30 million in Minnesota property taxes each year, a number that will climb by more than $35 million beginning the first full year that the replacement line is in service.

That ongoing tax revenue is vital for smaller communities.

“It has helped with our tax burden. The pipeline has absolutely brought in significant dollars to help fund other infrastructure projects,” says Hinkle.

Adds Judy, who recently retired after 24 years as business manager at the Drayton Public School: “It’s always a struggle to make sure that a small community like Drayton keeps the school doors open. When we lose the school, we lose the town. The property tax from Enbridge helps the school system . . . it’s really a godsend.”

(TOP PHOTO: Cavalier Mayor Lacey Hinkle says Line 3 Replacement Project construction activity had a positive impact on her community: "Our housing market is full, the grocery store is seeing a lot of positive impact, the hardware store is seeing a lot of positive impact, the restaurants, everywhere,")