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TrainND NW Has Started The Industrial EVolution

Kenley Nebeker, executive director, TrainND Northwest, joins Jason Spiess to talk about their "$2.8M grant" they were able to obtain from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as well as their Drone Light Show in Williston after the Babe Ruth World Series.

The "sustainability" grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan and EDA’s $300 million Coal Communities Commitment, as well as $464,000 in local matching funds also being added to the expansion project.

"Part of that project was to do an electric vehicle conversion on a CDL-level semi-truck," Nebeker said. "It's been a little bit slow starting up, we had to go through the procurement process, but we have selected a company to do that for us and that project will be starting up here shortly."

Nebeker continued describing the combustion-EV conversion. Click here to hear exclusive interview.

"It is a classic semi-truck that is being retro fitted to be driven by electric motors, be powered by battery power and have a small combustion engine powering those batteries," Nebeker said. "Ultimately making it to where we can drive as far as we want to as long as we keep diesel or gas in the tank."

The project is still in its final stages of development, so Nebeker said they haven't decided if it will be diesel or gas yet.

Although the details are an important and vital part of the process, Nebeker seems more interested in the bigger picture and awareness factor with the EVolution Hybrid project.

"I am really excited about this project because it shows the marriage between industries. There seems to be a lot of rhetoric that is all one or the other. We are all oil and gas, or we are all electric vehicles," Nebeker said. "In my mind there needs to be a marriage. The future is a marriage between those industries and this project can show how that works."

A couple weeks ago, following a Sunday night baseball game at the Babe Ruth World Series in Williston, ND, spectators were presented a glimpse of the future with a drone light show.

According to Nebeker, there were two-hundred drones that lit up the sky, showcasing the region’s advancements in the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industries.

The interview compared fireworks and drone light shows and pontificated whether UAS would become a player in the fireworks industry.

“I think it is a great option (to replace fireworks) for organizations, cities and people going into the future,” Nebeker said. “When you look at fire prevention and just the noise factor, being awake on the 4th of July every year til 3-in-the-morning eventually wears on you.”

Not everyone can become a Drone Light Show operator either. There are Federal Rules to accompany all the state and local laws. And only a handful of companies in the United States that can even put these shows on.

“The drone light show industry has been very interesting, Intel broke into the United States and just dominated that market,” Nebeker said. “And it’s interesting because they don’t even do drone light shows anymore. There’s really only three major up-and-going light shows in the United States.”

Firefly was the company used for the drone light show and Nebeker “couldn’t have been happier with their work. They just absolutely killed it.”

The drone show was sponsored by TrainND Northwest, Williston Economic Development, Williston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cardon Global, Dunlevy Drones and Firefly.

North Dakota is one of six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test site operators across the country. North Dakota’s test site was approved for operations on April 21, 2014.

Nebeker and the team in Williston may have done more than executing an entertaining light show, rather, shown the world how they have set the stage and blazed path for a whole new thread of the new ESG Economy.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration ( The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

About TrainND Northwest TrainND Northwest is a division of Williston State College (WSC), a two-year public community college in the North Dakota University System (NDUS). The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education is the policy-setting and advocacy body for the NDUS. For more information on the governing body, officials and faculty, please refer to the WSC Catalog at

TrainND Northwest is located at the Workforce Training Campus of WSC. Construction was completed in 2015, and facilities include classrooms, offices, The Bistro (food service), conference room, field training simulators, nursing lab, and computer lab. An outdoor yard holds mobile equipment, commercial vehicles, a range of crane types, a workover rig, and field safety training equipment.

TrainND Northwest meets the workforce training needs of northwestern North Dakota as part of TrainND's statewide workforce training network. TrainND Northwest believes that partnerships with business and industry foster an environment of continuous improvement to provide North Dakota with a competitive workforce. TrainND Northwest works with business, industry, government agencies, and non-profits to assess training needs and deliver timely, relevant, training that maximizes employee productivity and improves entity performance.

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