By Robert Barron
DURANT — Tommy Kramer says he doesn’t know how he does it. But he must be doing something right, because Durant is one of the fastest growing towns in the United States.
The book “Boom Town USA” lists the top 100 towns in the United States in terms of job growth, and Durant is one of only two in Oklahoma. The other is Guymon, which has benefitted from hog producer Seaboard Farms.
Kramer is a chemist and biologist who retired nine years ago as vice president of J.C. Potter Meat Co. He planned to sit back and take care of his cattle until the mayor, city manager and other community leaders approached him about working on economic development. Kramer took the job and started out in a broom closet in the back of the Durant Chamber of Commerce building. Durant Industrial Authority is supported by a sales tax approved by city voters. At a quarter-cent per year, the fund brings in about $700,000 annually, he said.
Outpacing the competition
In the past five years, employment in Bryan County has increased more than 14 percent, outpacing other micropolitan areas around the state. The state employment average for micropolitan areas, those areas outside the Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton metropolitan areas but still not classified as rural, is 4 percent. Statewide job growth is just more than 2 percent. The rate in rural areas in the state is minus 2 percent.
Kramer said many businesses have come to Durant from Texas, which is only a few miles away, because it is cheaper to do business in Oklahoma. One thing that has helped is an end-of-year inventory tax that has driven some businesses from Texas, he said.
“The land is cheaper, utilities are cheaper and taxes are a third,” Kramer said of Oklahoma over Texas.
By Robert Barron
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