Wisconsin Menards workers commute to North Dakota

Eric Koeppel

Home improvement retailer Menards has begun staffing their new Minot, N.D. location with 50 workers from its hometown of Eau Claire. Wait … what?

That’s right; according to The Consumerist, Menards workers in Eau Claire are enduring nearly 1,000 miles of air travel each week between the Badger State and the Roughrider State for their jobs. You may think that with the housing costs and airfare this may just be a temporary starting point for the new store, but Menard Inc. believes that this will be a “permanent solution.“

It may seem crazy to staff a store with employees that live over 500 miles away, but there simply aren’t enough people in the Minot area to fill the available positions. In fact, according to the Associated Press, there are roughly 22,000 available jobs in the area.

“The problem is housing: there just isn’t any,” wrote John, a Consumerist reader and Bismarck, N.D. resident. “With oil development in the area, rents have skyrocketed, and there are literally zero rental properties available at any given time.”

But housing isn’t the only issue concerning Minot; the fact is that during the winter the town gets as cold as ice, and Menards is willing to sacrifice their love.

“As it is, there is not a big enough labor force around here, and as it gets colder there is less of one,” said Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman.

Zimbelman does hope that some of the Wisconsinite workers will eventually decide to stay. On the other hand, this could positively benefit the Chippewa Valley economy if workers do choose to keep Eau Claire as their home base. The city’s economic development director hopes that these workers will “bring that North Dakota Money back to Eau Claire.”