Myers updates commission on local economy
Beverly Bryant - December 1, 2016 10:03 am
Ponca City Development Authority Executive Director David Myers updated the Ponca City Board of Commissioners this week on the local economy.
Myers said the regional economy is not terribly robust, but the price of oil is stabilizing. He said 30 percent of the local economy is tied to oil in some way.
That portion includes the Phillips refinery, which has a diversified line of products, companies that make components for the oil industry, and the financial impact of crews staying in Ponca City to work in an area to the west.
Myers said Ponca City’s unemployment rate is 6.5 percent, compared to Kay County’s rate of 7.1 percent. Communities of comparable size have unemployment rates of up to 10 percent, he said.
Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is 5.2 percent, and the national rate is 4.9 percent.
Myers said a good thing is that 70 percent of the local economy is not tied to oil and gas because of diversification.
“We are in a post-election slowdown while the economy is recalibrating,” he said.
Oklahoma has an advantage as a major producer of natural gas, he said, which will be important as coal is used less as a fuel source.
Myers noted changes in manufacturing in the Ponca City, such as increased use of robotics and repurposing of plants for other functions.
Although production has slowed at Smith Bits as the Slumberger company moves forward to closing this location, Myers said a significant number of the very skilled employees are choosing to stay in Ponca City instead of moving to Houston. Smith Bits had produced as many as 140 drill bits per week, but now is down to 20. Myers said the Smith Bits building is not available as it is not on the market at this time. The first wave of employees making the transfer to Houston are expected to move out in January, he said.
“We have pitched the remaining work force to 65 companies,” Myers said. “The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission and Pioneer Technology Center are working together to create a seamless transition for the local workers so they can stay.”
Myers noted several bright spots in the area economy in his report.
Continental Carbon has broken ground for a $100 million project to create clean energy for its Ponca City plant. About 30 employees will be hired for that project, Myers said.
In addition, the OG&E plant near Red Rock will be installing new scrubbers, which will bring additional workers to the area.
Cookshack will be moving to its new headquarters at 2405 Sykes Blvd. at the first of 2017, Myers said.
Log10, also on Sykes Boulevard, was founded in 2013. Myers said the company produces food enzymes and probiotics, as well as focusing on food safety. The company generates an estimated $1.2 million in revenues annually and is hiring additional employees.
Dorado Foods is still hiring and needs an additional 40 employees, he said.
Myers also talked briefly about the City Center building acquisition, saying PCDA accepted the donation of the building but is still working on leases and other paperwork before the deal is finalized. PCDA also will prepare an application for an Economic Development grant. Acquisition of the building is intended to further the PCDA goal of diversifying the local economy.