Struggling to keep up with unprecedented growth in its oil and natural gas production in the Williston Basin, North Dakota has joined forces with producer Hess Corp. with an $800,000 promotional campaign to lure 20,000 new workers to the state to promote economic growth tied to Bakken/Three Forks formation.

Hess donated half of the funds, while a branch of the North Dakota Department of Economic Development and Finance launched a workforce recruitment campaign, “Find the Good Life in North Dakota” aimed at attracting more job seekers. The state already has attracted thousands of new residents who are going to work in the oil patch and affiliate industries.

“Like many businesses, Hess is faced with tremendous workforce needs,” said Steve McNally, general manager for the North Dakota operations. “We want to hire workers who, like us, believe in the exciting opportunities North Dakota has to offer.”

Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation kicked off the jobs campaign. Gov. Jack Dalrymple also on Wednesday met with Canada’s U.S. Ambassador Gary Doer to discuss a trade mission in Canada in June because the country is the largest buyer of the state’s goods and services, some of which are related to the oil and gas boom.

Wrigley claimed that North Dakota is leading the nation in economic and job growth, but “to sustain that growth, we need to ensure that the jobs we are creating are filled with highly skilled workers.” He said the new campaign is geared at both expanding the state’s workforce and promoting its quality of life.”

Indicative of the shale-driven growth in the state’s economy, Dalrymple, who created the North Dakota Trade Office in 2005 as lieutenant governor, said the state’s sales to foreign markets have increased 173% in less than a decade, from $1.1 billion to about $3 billion annually.