Economy growing in Durant

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

DURANT, OK -- Economic growth in Durant is bucking the national trend. Officials say that growth starts with industrial development and trickles down to area retail.

Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake said the Central Bank may cut the federal interest rate even more to fend off an economic downturn.

In Durant, businesses say they're actually expanding when the rest of the country is doing otherwise.

The wood is still fresh on the Holiday Inn Express under construction. It’s one of several buildings popping up around town.

"The number of people coming through, the tax revenues speak for themselves,” says Janet Reed, executive director of the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce. “The economy that throughout the nation it seems to be recessing and we continue to grow, and that speaks for itself."

Industrial development officials say there is hundreds of millions of dollars in new construction, mostly because of incentives for businesses in Oklahoma and Durant's centralized location in the country.

"It's hard to find good employees in this market. If you're a good employee, we can help you get a job," says Donna Powell, with Texoma Business Staffing, a job placement agency.

The company held a job fair Wednesday, packed with prospective employees. Powell says the biggest issue in the area isn't a lack of jobs, it's not having enough people to fill all the available jobs.

"They call us everyday wanting a job. The people that want a job, they go, and we have positions for them," Powell says.

Texoma Business Staffing is placing many workers in construction jobs and anticipates more of those positions to open up with the Choctaw Casino expansion.

The business boom trickles down to longtime-fixtures in Durant as well.

Salitas Restaurant says they see familiar faces everyday and have steady business, even with rising food and fuel costs.

"We have two families that eat here every single day, at least once a day. We have several other regulars," says Jason Lowery, Salita’s manager.

There are also three natural gas pipelines running underneath Durant. One is currently under construction in the area.

A Walgreens is also set to open in the near future.

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