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Expanding economic growth in Oklahoma communities

Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center understands the need to keep the commodities in the state to be processed before distributed, and an FAPC Industry Advisory Committee member is helping this vision become a reality.

By Ashley Middleswarth, FAPC Communications Graduate Assistant

(Stillwater, Okla. – June 9, 2015) Oklahoma is deeply rooted in production agriculture. As a leader in livestock and crop production, Oklahoma is well rounded in raw commodities, and a group of strong and quickly growing core of companies is working on the food-processing side of the equation.

Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center understands the need to keep the commodities in the state to be processed before distributed, and an FAPC Industry Advisory Committee member is helping this vision become a reality.

Tommy Kramer, the executive director of the Durant Industrial Authority, helps to bring economic development to the city of Durant.

“This is not a job or career,” Kramer said. “It’s an encouragement to have a front row seat to the growth in a community you love.”

Under Kramer’s 17-year leadership, sales tax for Bryan County has doubled, county property tax has grown 200 percent and the city of Durant, as a whole, has grown twice as fast as the state average.

Through the creation of a group called TEAM DURANT, Kramer has created sizable development in the retail sector, which has created several thousand jobs in the community.

BrucePac is the most recent addition to the Durant area. BrucePac, which is headquartered in Woodburn, Oregon, was looking to expand operations and found a home in southeastern Oklahoma.

The meat company, specializing in chicken, beef, turkey and pork products, currently produces 1.3 million pounds of product per week.

Raw materials utilized by the company are predominantly produced in this region of the country and the ability to cut back on raw material freight, while also expanding its southern and eastern customer base, made Oklahoma the ideal home for expansion.

“The city of Durant is built of team players, family, and friends and that type of environment really sold the company,” Kramer said. “Oklahoma already has the built-in resources to service customers from farm-to-fork, and BrucePac will only enhance the opportunities available to Oklahomans.”

Kramer said one of the attracting factors about a company like BrucePac is it creates a relationship, so everything the company makes is a custom-formulated product for a specific company, which has been its model since 1949.

“You don’t always get the family feeling from larger food companies like you will from BrucePac,” he said. “They are built of the same morals as the people of Oklahoma.”

As a veteran in the business, Kramer quickly recognized that BrucePac was looking to expand operations because the company is simply at maximum capacity in its current locations. The Durant location will be the third BrucePac facility—proving the company already has the sales volume to support the operation.

“This will make a positive economic impact on Durant,” Kramer said. “We could not have handpicked a better company than BrucePac.”

By moving into a currently vacant building––formerly the JC Potter plant that was vacated in 2014––BrucePac is reenergizing the business effect in Durant. The impact of new jobs and salaries in the community represents what Kramer calls homegrown economic development at its best.

“That salary rolls through a community seven to eight times, which has a positive correlation on community growth,” Kramer stated.

BrucePac held a groundbreaking ceremony on April 24 to mark the start of construction on a new, state-of-the-art 40,000-square-foot food-processing facility in addition to the existing facility.

According to a news release distributed by the company, BrucePac plans to invest approximately $20 million in construction, renovation and equipment at its new Durant facility to extend existing Oregon capabilities and meet customer demands. The Durant facility is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015 and will employ 300 team members on two shifts.

“BrucePac’s acquisition of the former JC Potter Sausage facility in Durant will allow us to better serve our customers and remain competitive in the marketplace,” said Terry Buford, BrucePac vice president.

Jim Brooks, FAPC manager of business services, attended the groundbreaking ceremony, along with Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, members of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, members of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Durant mayor and city council members, and Durant Industrial Authority board members.

“This is another great example of the work being done by the leadership of Tommy Kramer and TEAM DURANT,” Brooks said. “The BrucePac executives present at the event were excited and committed with the opportunity for the new food company that will create 300 new jobs when fully operational.”

FAPC, a part of OSU's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, helps to discover, develop, and deliver technical and business information that will stimulate and support the growth of value-added food and agricultural products and processing in Oklahoma.

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Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant system of interdisciplinary programs that prepares students for success. OSU is America’s Brightest Orange. Through leadership and service, OSU is preparing students for a bright future and building a brighter world for all. As Oklahoma’s only university with a statewide presence, OSU improves the lives of people in Oklahoma, the nation and the world through integrated, high-quality teaching, research and outreach. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 24,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 245,000 students to serve Oklahoma, the nation and the world.