Lt. Governor Todd Lamb joined “Team Durant” at an appreciation luncheon on Friday to applaud 44 Bryan County companies who have helped to create or maintain 5,500 manufacturing and logistics jobs in this area.
Lamb and Durant Mayor Jerry Tomlinson agreed that these Durant businesses must be doing something right: The county boasts a paltry 3.8 percent unemployment rate – nearly a full five points below the rising national average.
Oklahoma’s statewide unemployment rate is around 6 percent, Lamb said, making our state’s rate the lowest among all of Oklahoma neighbors. “One of the big reasons for that is Bryan County,” Lamb said.
“It’s great that we can sell things, and market things. But if we are not making things in this country, in this state, then we are at an economic disadvantage,” he said. “Bryan County is doing it right. The more Oklahoma can focus on manufacturing, the better it is for our families, and we can keep future generation in Oklahoma.”
Team Durant is the 14-year effort of the Durant Industrial Authority and the Economic Development Council to attract and maintain manufacturing jobs to this area. Many of those employers were in attendance Friday at the luncheon held at Donald W. Reynolds Memorial Library.
Tommy Kramer, executive director of Durant Industrial Authority, said the event was a way to show appreciation to those employers, either for choosing Durant or keeping long-term jobs in the area. The two oldest employers on the list of 44 are Rustin Concrete and Indian Nation Wholesale.
“We have this magic blessing called Team Durant,” Kramer said. “We all work through job creation to improve the quality of life here.”
Prior to the luncheon, Lamb toured Cardinal Glass, Big Lots Distribution Center and Eagle Suspensions to get a first-hand look at the manufacturing workforce of the city.
Guests and lawmakers attending the luncheon included State Sen. Josh Brecheen, State Reps. Dustin Roberts and R.C. Pruett (from Durant), former State Rep. John Carey, Choctaw Nation Assistant Chief Gary Batton, and several staff members from Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University President Dr. Larry Minks brought the Cat 5 student vocal ensemble to entertain the gathering. The luncheon was catered by Dining Around Catering.