Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Rural Areas Get over 50% of New Jobs

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Rural Areas Get over 50% of New Jobs

Article excerpt

By Lou Anne Wolfe

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Rural counties reaped more than half the new investment announcements during the five years from 1988 to 1992, according to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

"The general perception that Oklahoma's rural towns and communities are unable to compete for new jobs and long-term investment simply isn't true," the department said in a news release.

"Economic development is a term that applies to both rural and metropolitan areas of the state," said Greg Main, secretary of commerce. "Over the past five years, rural Oklahoma communities have proven their ability to attract new and expanding businesses."

From 1988 through 1992, the commerce department recorded 779 new investment announcements within Oklahoma. Those projects of various sizes represented intentions to add more than 37,000 new jobs to the state's economy, Main said.

Of that group, nonmetropolitan counties recorded nearly 51 percent of the announced projects and 48 percent of the intended job growth, he said.

"These statistics are particularly impressive considering that only 41 percent of the state's population lives in nonmetropolitan counties," Main said.

State Rep. Don McCorkell, D-Tulsa, chairman of the Economic Development Committee of the House of Representatives, said he was not surprised at the news.

"The publicity and press coverage is always around, say, if a 500-job deal gets done in an urban area," he said. "If you have five 100-job deals in rural areas, it never shows up in the press, so people don't realize it's happening. This has been true, frankly, on an ongoing basis."

McCorkell said Oklahoma has had a balanced program impact on rural and urban areas.

"I don't think there's any doubt that the rural areas have been getting a fair share of the impact, not just the Quality Jobs Program, but other programs as well," he said.

The Quality Jobs Program, enacted last session, offers a payroll tax rebate to eligible new and expanding companies based on the number of jobs created. Because it has a minimum threshold requirement of at least a $2.5 million payroll, some legislators from rural areas want to lower the threshold. …

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