Mall of America hopes to drill into oil workers' wallets


"What brings you into town?" the woman behind the swanky hotel counter asks, as a man with a t-shirt and five-o-clock shadow approaches to check in.

"I work the oil fields in North Dakota, but I'm here to meet my family for the weekend," he responds.

Within seconds he's being shaved, and joining up with his wife and two kids for a couple days at the Mall of America.

As the Bismarck Tribune reports, the Bloomington megamall is attempting to strike it rich with the cash-flush oil workers from neighboring North Dakota, its campaign starting with the above 2-minute YouTube video geared at the workers and their families.

"We know the Twin Cities are a destination for North Dakotans," mall spokesperson Dan Jasper told the Tribune, citing the sports fans that consistently cross the border. It's the first time MOA has used a social media campaign to target a specific demographic, he told the paper, adding they could do additional similar videos if it proves successful based on a few more weeks of monitoring online views and deal redemption at hotels.

The Mall of America sees about 40 million visitors annually, with 40 percent of those (16 million) being tourists, the mall's website says.

There's even a specific necessities pitch in the ad: "No sales tax on clothing!" it says.

The North Dakota state sales tax is 5 percent, with only groceries being exempt.

Young money

"Want to double or triple your paycheck? Move to Williston," the International Business Times wrote.

The town of Williston, North Dakota has become the poster city for the North Dakota oil boom. The money is there, and people are grabbing it.

In 2011, near the beginning of the economic windfall, companies were paying $15 an hour to serve tacos, $25 an hour to wait tables, CNN Money reported. Driving trucks netted you $80,000 a year.

The oil boom has led to a population explosion in western North Dakota, bringing in thousands of people seeking work. Williston’s population jumped from about 13,000 to more than 18,000 from 2009-2012. The state's population jumped 5 percent in that same period, from about 665,000 to nearly 700,000.

One man who moved their with his wife from North Carolina makes about $1,600 a week ($77,000 a year), four times what he had been making out east, the Business Times said.

The Guardian called Williston "America's new gold rush city," noting the average annual wage in WIlliams County during the final quarter of 2013 was $77,636 – 41 percent higher than the national average.

A drilling consultant can earn upwards of $238,000 annually, the Fiscal Times reported. A well control specialist or well tester can make north of $100,000 – "No bachelor’s degree required, though strong analytical skills, computer skills and experience with Excel spreadsheets is needed," the site said.

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