The Duncan Banner
The annual Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation (DAEDF) banquet Thursday night was a distinguished affair. Dignitaries from all walks of government and county were present as well as DAEDF board members, visible community members and business owners. However, this year’s banquet painted a different picture than in years past. This year, there was a good amount of growth to report, not just on the state level, but locally as well.
DAEDF President Lyle Roggow said the past year has been a great one for DAEDF. The organization founded to build growth in the community has done just that.
“When I first got here in October of 2006, even before I took this job, I attended a kind of comprehensive plan in this very room,” Roggow said. “We talked about economic development and I introduced some new concepts and ideas that I thought would be great for Duncan.”
Roggow then said over the next five years, many of those ideas came to light, most notably, the business incubator.
“I wanted to start an incubator, and the board found us a building and we went with it,” Roggow said. “I was even told that there was no way we would fill that building.”
Roggow and the rest of his DAEDF staff proved the critics wrong by introducing seven businesses into the incubator in the last few years, most of which are seeing growth and hiring new employees.
He spoke briefly about each of the businesses, and some of the things they have had to overcome and work through to get their businesses where they are now. Roggow is proud of the success they are having and also proud of the hard work they are putting in to make their businesses successful, hoping one day they graduate into their own facilities, hiring even more local employees.
Likewise, the storage space the DAEDF Incubator possess is nearly full.
“We’ve even converted some of the old paint booths into storage areas,” Roggow said. “We added heat and some fiber, and you’d be really surprised with what we’ve done out there.”
Roggow said companies like Halliburton, Wilco and Ryder Trucks utilize the storage space for excess equipment, and while it’s not bringing business to the incubator, is it is freeing space for new employment opportunities at those companies.
“Halliburton and Wilco added several jobs because they can store things on our property,” Roggow said.
Overall, Roggow said the incubator, and it’s storage and work facilities are full, “and that’s just great,” Roggow said.
He also talked about the increased number of RFP’s, or requests for proposals, from companies looking into moving to Duncan.
“We had 58 RFP’s last year,” Roggow said. “That’s twice the number from the year before, and we’ve already had seven since Jan. 1 of this year.”
Overall, Roggow said things are looking up for Duncan as far as companies looking and businesses succeeding.
Another aspect of the DAEDF banquet is to recognize the staff and board members. One in particular, Cindy Reynolds, will be leaving the DAEDF board after serving a two year term. Reynolds was filling in for a DAEDF board members that left before the full three year term was up.
“She’s been great on the board and we’ll miss her a lot,” Roggow said.
Finally, the banquet’s guest speaker, Chad Wilkerson took to the podium. Wilkerson is the vice president and branch executive for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Oklahoma City Branch. He talked mostly about the state of the economy in multiple areas.
First, on the national level, Wilkerson said things are still rough, but looking up. At the state level, he expressed that Oklahoma is in a much better position than almost any other state in the country. He said one of the biggest contributors for this was the lack of a housing bubble during the recession, and the large amount of energy business in Oklahoma.
Likewise, Stephens County showed to be, for the most part, a little better off than the state as a whole. He showed charts about unemployment across the state, and expressed that Duncan’s 6.3 percent unemployment was well below the national average of 9 percent, and still below the state level of unemployment.
“But full employment is often shown to be right around five percent, so there’s still some work to be done there,” Wilkerson said.
Roggow said Wilkerson’s presentation of the country and state’s climb out of a recession was a good presentation to have as only a few years ago, their presentation was of the country preparing for the recession.
“It’s definitely good to see the upside of this now,” Roggow said. “We got to see it as we went into it, and now as we climb out, so this was a great presentation.”
He said DAEDF’s plan is to continue to grow on the goals they’ve set and even accomplished in the past year, but said the main focus stays the same. “Employment and growth, that’s what we’re about,” Roggow said.