Myers update City Commission on economic improvements
Beverly Bryant - April 11, 2017 2:34 pm
Ponca City Development Authority Executive Director David Myers updated the City Commission Monday night on the gradual economic improvement in Oklahoma.
He said current U.S. unemployment is at 4.5 percent, with Oklahoma at 4.6 percent. Ponca City is at 5.7 unemployment, compared to 6.1 percent a year ago. Kay County is now at 6.3 percent unemployment, compared to 6.8 percent a year ago.
Myers said things are looking up with new projects online. With changing demands for job skills, there is a downside as well, he said.
He cited the example of the Smith Bits plant, which closed because of a sharp decline in the need for oil bits made by the company. When it closed, there were 203 employees on site in Ponca City. Of that number, Myers said, 88 percent chose note to move to Houston.
“There are opportunities out there,” Myers said. “Their skills may not line up exactly with the opportunities.”
He said Workforce Oklahoma had received a TAA grant which provides additional unemployment benefits to this group of employees and offers additional training for them at Pioneer Technology Center.
Myers said the Smith Bits building is not yet available for another business, but several infrastructure projects have been completed in Ponca City.
Sykes Boulevard has been completed, as has the parking lot at Cookshack’s new building. Myers said a new roof is planned for the airport hangar that was formerly the Conoco hangar. There are tenants in the hangar until the end of June, but there is some discussion underway that a mechanical repair organization may be interested
Statistics from UML show that in the past eight months, there have been 1,500 overnight stays from out of town crews and more than 5,000 meals during that time, impacting the Ponca City economy.
PCDA is actively involved in creating new opportunities and training events to improve the work force in Ponca City, now and in the future.
Myers said a program called “Careers and Cookies” helps line up job opportunities for students, and Girl Power is an internationally recognized program now in its third year. It helps provide nontraditional opportunities for eight grade girls.
The PCDA staff also is working on promotional projects to prepare Ponca City for future opportunities. The projects are designed to tell potential employers who Ponca City is.
Myers also said Bliss Industries has found a new location near the Continental Carbon plant, and talks have begun on the next PCDA spec building.