Commerce official: Southern part of state to continue economic growth

Published: Thursday, November 19, 2009 7:00 am

The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY - The southern portion of Oklahoma - near Ardmore, south to Texas - will see an influx of jobs, families and economic opportunities over the next decade, an official with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce said this week.

Speaking Tuesday at the 2009 Oklahoma Economic Outlook Conference, Deidre D. Myers, director of research and economic analysis for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, said the state's south Interstate 35 corridor has the potential for major growth.

"We are seeing people coming from Texas to Oklahoma," Myers said. "The migration from Dallas to Oklahoma is greater than from Oklahoma to Texas."

She said there will also be some growth in north Texas, fueled by Hispanic families seeking more economic opportunities.

"These are young families with children who are moving," she said.

And while Oklahoma, like the nation, continues to dig its way out of a recession, Myers said the southern portion of the state has drawn workers and resources because of big investments in knowledge-based infrastructure and because of the major economic development work done by the state's tribal nations.

"The tribal nations have made big investments in the entertainment industry," she said. "It's something that is very exciting."

Myers' prediction was similar to that made by economists from Oklahoma State University.

On Tuesday, OSU released its 2010 Oklahoma Economic Outlook - the university's annual report that predicts the state's economic performance. During the conference about the study, Russell Evans, director of the university's Center for Applied Economic Research, said the state's economy would remain flat for the next year.

"In general the Oklahoma forecast is relatively flat," Evans said. "At this time we're not projecting an aggressive increase in natural gas prices, nor do we see any single large momentum-building private-sector movement on the horizon. We are relatively pessimistic 2010 is going to be a flat year."

He said the state's personal income level fell by more than $3 billion from 2008 and predicted job losses would continue for the first half of 2010.

Still, even with potential for growth in the area, Myers acknowledged that it would take time for the state to recover from the national recession. Echoing other economists, she said Oklahoma's economy should be back on solid footing in a couple of years.

"I think things will really improve with oil prices stabilize," she said. "It's a fair statement to say sometime around 2013."

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