When asked what one word best describes the type of year Devils Lake had, Dick Johnson took little time to respond.
“Prosperous,” he told the Journal Wednesday afternoon. “The year of 2015 has been a time of growth and positivity.” The mayor of Devils Lake points out that the city saw an influx of new and existing businesses invest into the community with projects during the past year.
“There has been a lot of new development in the past 12 months,” Johnson stated. “We have seen new businesses open, others break ground and existing companies expand or add locations. Devils Lake has a lot going on.”
Rachel Lindstrom, executive director of Forward Devils Lake, agrees noting that 2015 has been extremely busy and productive on the economic development side of things. Through the Forward Devils Lake flex funding program, the city has seen $5.7 Million in new growth. That number includes new construction as well as expansion and moving of existing businesses.”It’s been fast moving,” she pointed out.
New business projects in the community this year have included a strip mall, four additional businesses in the old industrial park and a city plaza located in the former WalMart building. This is in addition to many existing businesses that have expanded, remodeled and switched locations.
“We have seen a real mix of new and existing businesses completing projects. It’s all tremendous to see that kind of investment in Devils Lake.” –Lindstrom
In addition, a hotel is being built and the construction of a new truck stop is also underway.
Johnson points out that officials from a number of different industries have also been in contact with the city.
“There are a lot of irons in the fire,” he added. “We have been getting a lot of serious investors looking at our city.”
In addition to growth in the business world, there has also been an influx of housing in the area. In the past two years, nearly 80 multi-family housing units have been added in city limits as part of the city’s flex funding program.
“For years, housing was a great need in Devils Lake,” the Forward Devils Lake executive director said. “I think the housing situation is starting to stabilize as we have seen so many new multi-family housing units constructed.”
The city’s growth, in both business and housing, can greatly be credited to the finalization and completion of the city’s embankment project. “That has played a huge role in all of the growth we are seeing,” Johnson stated. “Once the community knew that it was protected, we have seen new projects in both industry and housing. It’s been great to see.”
After a prosperous year in 2015, city leaders look to 2016 with great optimism. Two areas Lindstrom is looking to address in the next year includes securing infrastructure in the new industrial park and bringing more childcare to Devils Lake.
Meanwhile, Johnson notes that the revitalization of downtown business district is on the to-do list for 2016. He applauds the improvements that current businesses, located downtown, have made in recent years. Now, Devils Lake is hoping to entice developers to move into spaces that are currently vacant in the city center. “Downtown is an absolutely huge part of every city,” he added.
With strong property values, new business and additional housing available, Devils Lake is in a good spot, Johnson and Lindstrom agreed. “There is definitely reason for optimism,” the mayor said. “It’s an exciting time,” Lindstrom said.
–Taken from the Devils Lake Journal
By Harry Lipsiea–Journal Contributor