Myers updates commission on local economy

Ponca City Now - January 27, 2015 9:56 am

Ponca City Development Authority’s executive director, David Myers, updated city commissioners Monday evening with an overview of the local economy.

Myers first compared unemployment figures for the nation, state and county. He said the U.S. currently has 5.6 percent unemployment, compared to Oklahoma, with 4.4 percent unemployment, and Kay County, with 4.7 unemployment.

He gave an overview of several large projects underway in Ponca City, including an addition of 5,000 square feet at Log 10 for an internal laboratory.

"This is a high-tech company with high-paying jobs," he said.

Myers also said there are cranes above Dorado Foods in the Airport Industrial Park. Dorado got a $17 million construction permit recently and is expanding, which includes hiring 200 more people, Myers said.

The company, which makes Chicken McNuggets, is expanding its operation and plans to add another customer for its services, Myers said.

MJH, a construction company which makes large vessels and tanks for industries, has exceeded its projections for job numbers, Myers said. The company now employs more than 50 people.

A discussion of the local economy would be incomplete without a few words about the impact of oil prices.

"We get asked about the price of oil and its impact," Myers said. "We remain an oil and gas community with a third of our economy tied to oil and gas. But that means two-thirds of our economy is not related to oil and gas.

"Not all of that one-third is tied into the upstream side, which is feeling the pain of low oil prices," he said.. "We have significant downstream interests with the refinery."

He said even so, falling oil prices will have an impact.

"How badly? We don’t know," he said. "There will be an impact. The sweet spot is about $80 a barrel. That’s when we have crews coming in to extract oil and the motels and restaurants are full. I don’t pretend to tell you it will get there any time soon. Companies are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

"I met with federal officials last week in Washington, D.C. Everyone is waiting and seeing. That’s the nature of the oil contracts today," Myers said.

He said the local workforce continues to remain an issue, as companies try to find skilled employees aligned with their company’s needs.

"If they need a welder, a food processor will not do," Myers said.

 

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