The reality of the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline project should be settling in by now. Hundreds of pipes were transported from the Florence depot to a field on 290th Road. A company representative came by the office last week to say construction was on schedule and should begin in about a month.
There will be hundreds of workers in Marion County for several months during the construction of the nearly 40-mile pipeline through the county.
Marion County already missed some opportunities a few months ago when the pipe was transported from one part of the county to another.
Workers wanted to stay in an area motel and asked a restaurant in the area to open 15 minutes early to accommodate them before they reported to work. Neither owner was willing to accommodate them.
Instead the truck drivers and pipe yard workers stayed in El Dorado.
Can you imagine turning down an opportunity to sell out every room in a motel for a month or turning away 25 to 30 hungry customers nearly every morning for 30 days?
Most retail business owners and managers have been complaining about either a drop in customer traffic or a reduction in the dollars being spent. And then there was an opportunity for easy pickins and they turned it down.
Well, folks, there’s another opportunity right around the bend. And this time, it will be more workers for a longer period of time.
These folks will be looking for a place to stay or a place to hook up a camping trailer. They also will be spending money in our communities buying fuel, food, and other necessities.
Another perk will be if someone or some business is willing to cater to the workers out in the field — on the construction sites.
Yes, it would be hard work for a while. Yes, it would mean a commitment and possibly hiring extra help. But the benefits should outweigh the inconveniences.
Here is an economic development opportunity for the entire county.
Who is going to roll out the welcome mat?
Which businesses are going to go that extra mile to accommodate these workers?
Who knows what may come of this?
Strange things have happened when people visit our quaint and friendly communities. They appreciate the quality of life our communities can provide and sometimes visitors end up being residents.
Or maybe they want to bring their families for a vacation of camping and boating. Who knows?
But one thing we do know is if we miss this opportunity, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
— susan berg