Goals Include Providing More Opportunities for Minot AFB Personnel
Kevin Black started Creedence Energy with two of his cousins in 2014. He smiles when he recalls the early days, when he said they could only pay two salaries. “It was simple: one of the cousins couldn’t get a paycheck,” Black said in a recent interview with the Northern Sentry.
From those modest beginnings, a company dedicated to serving the energy industry has grown to over 250 employees operating in seven states.
As 2023 begins, Kevin becomes the Chair of the Minot Area Chamber EDC.
“I actually served on the board of the Minot Area Development Corporation (MADC). That was my entry into what is now the Minot Area Chamber EDC back in 2019 when Brekka Kramer was chair of the MADC.”
In 2021 the MADC and the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce merged to become a single organization. “This year I will be chairing the organization,” says Black, “so I’m going on about four years of being part of the Chamber EDC team. I felt very fortunate that Brekka asked me to join the new board as we were reducing two very large boards to one smaller board.” From Kevin’s viewpoint, Brekka Kramer wanted an entrepreneurial perspective on the board. Creedence Energy Services operates in the two largest shale oil and gas plays, the Bakken and Permian basins.
Kevin says his continued involvement with the Minot Area Chamber EDC is rooted in the confidence he has in the organization. “I have tremendous faith in the Chamber EDC’s ability to drive economic development in this community, and also facilitate the improvement of the quality of life in the Minot area.”
He says a thriving business climate affects far more than the economy. “The business community pays the taxes that improve the quality of life through education, infrastructure, parks and recreation – all those things that we as parents and families care about. The Chamber EDC’s work helps our community grow into a place where my kids will want to stay and raise their families,” Black says.
The Minot Area Chamber EDC has implemented a five-year strategic plan, with five pillars: Economic Development, Community Development, Workforce Development, Member Services and Military Support.
“We believe that supporting our friends and the mission of the Minot Air Force Base, and not just the big projects like the upcoming Sentinel project, but growing our relationships with MAFB commanders, is incredibly important. We’re also proud to engage the young men and women on the tarmac and on the roads to missile sites. We want Minot to be more than a place they’re assigned to. When they come north, they find a welcoming community. They may just want to stick around!”
Across North Dakota, communities are facing difficult workforce development challenges, and Minot is no exception. “Our hope is that we can engage with our military friends as they progress through their careers, and when their service to our country ends, that they want to stay in Minot. We hope to use that pipeline to attract and keep that extremely talented workforce going forward.”
Kevin says his major goals for his time as Chair of the Minot Area Chamber EDC revolve around Minot Air Force Base.
“We want every single person on Minot Air Force Base to know that we are grateful for their service, that we appreciate them being here, and that we appreciate them being part of this community. I really want them to feel that appreciation and gratitude.”
“But it just can’t be us saying it. We’re building programming that will deepen our relationships with Air Force personnel at every level.”
That type of appreciation happens through military appreciation events. “We’re actually having one on January 21 at the Minot State University Hockey game, which is free to attend for anyone with a military ID. I’m also excited about a Military Bowl at an MSU football game later this year. We’ll invite our military families to experience Minot State athletics, experience the community and show them a lot of appreciation and gratitude and make it into a special event. Something fun to do on a Saturday afternoon.”
Looking ahead, Kevin Black says the Minot Area Chamber EDC’s connection to Minot Air Force Base could grow to include a dedicated Military Affairs staff member at the Chamber EDC. “I think it’s a great idea to have job fairs and career fairs to let the people on base know about possible positions in the community. Not just for folks retiring from the military, but the spouses, kids, and other family members. Anything we can do from a policy perspective to make pursuing careers in the Minot area easier, we want to make it happen.”
One final question: A year from now, what would Kevin Black most like to see accomplished by the Chamber EDC?
“A year from now, I’d like to say that one, we’ve built an organization that has dedicated resources to supporting the mission of Minot Air Force Base and the folks who execute that mission every day. And two, that we’ve established signature events that attract the young men and women – specifically those boots-on-the-ground folks, doing really hard work in the cold and in the heat – and get them connected with our community. Number three, that we increase the dialogue and enhance the conversation between our business community and Minot Air Force Base on how we can provide more opportunities for entertainment and for quality of life. We need to provide more opportunities to attract folks to stay in Minot once their time in the military is over.”