Last updated: March 12. 2014 10:43AM - 532 Views
By - jbreger@civitasmedia.com

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The Durant Economic Development Council was presented with information about the city’s workforce and economic growth during this month’s regular meeting.

The council heard from Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Manager of the Durant Workforce Oklahoma Center Justin Parker about the improving unemployment rate in the area.

Parker said his office is seeing less and less people come in to collect unemployment and more come in to try to find work.

He said this is partially due to how the office is now handling customers. He said the office is gearing away from unemployment and pushing reemployment.

“We’ve changed the way we talk when people come in,” said Parker. He said there is no more automatic “here’s how to file for unemployment.”

Instead, Parker said they are focused on helping people find jobs and helping community employers get the right person for a job.

The council also introduced a new employer to Durant. Representing the Durant IHOP was IHOP President Morgan Gob. Gob has been with the IHOP chain for 20 years and is president over 16 IHOP locations.

Gob gave the council information on how IHOP has changed over the years and about the recently celebrated National Pancake Day.

Gob said on the day of the celebration, Durant, the newest IHOP in his district, raised the most funds for the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

“I’ve just never worked with a town like Durant,” said Gob as he explained how much work had to be put in by many entities in the community to get the store open on its deadline.

Durant Main Street Director Tiffany Pierce also spoke at the meeting. Pierce announced that Durant Main Street is up for not one, but five awards from the Oklahoma Main Street Program.

The popular Colton’s Run event is nominated for three of the awards.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Pierce, smiling at the council.

Award winners will be announced at a banquet held at the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City on May 6.

The council also heard from Pat Dorris, representing the Medical Center of Southeast Oklahoma (MCSO). The hospital has recently changed ownership and has now been acquired by Community Health Systems.

“This is a big plus for us,” said Dorris.

She said MCSO was one of the flagship hospitals for the previous owner and has high expectations for its future with the new owner.

“This will bring a lot to Durant as far as expanding our health care,” she said.

Plans include adding to women’s health, neurology and cardiology.

Industrial Board Executive Director Tommy Kramer mentioned several ongoing projects in the city. The Tile shop in Durant is working on its third expansion since opening last year and an asphalt plant that was approved several months ago is in place and well underway.

Also under construction is a medical center on University Boulevard as well as the Durant McDonald’s which is predicted to reopen in May.

Durant Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Janet Reed also reminded the council of the upcoming chamber banquet to be held at the SE Ballroom April 3.

This year’s theme is “All About You,” emphasizing that the chamber is all about the people in the community.

- Jessica Breger can be reached at (580) 924-4388 ext. 116 or on Twitter @jbreger_news

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