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Main Street organization honored as Chamber Member of the Month

Chamber Pres. Rhonda Nicholson presented members of the Sallisaw Main Street organization

with a plaque recognizing them as the Chamber Member of the Month. (l to r) Josh Rogers, Nicholson, Margaret Perry, Jaime Henson, and Carol Brown.

Thursday, November 18, 2021 - The Sallisaw Chamber Monthly Meeting was held at Carl Albert State College in Sallisaw on November 17. The chamber opened the meeting with an update regarding the Shop Local campaign by Sallisaw Chamber Executive Director Marty Green.

Green said there has been some confusion regarding changes made this year to the city's "shop local" campaign. This year, store owners will not be handing out tickets at the time of purchase as in previous years. Instead, shoppers will bring receipts to the GRDA stage on the library lawn on December 11 and register them at 4:30 p.m. Once receipts are registered, shoppers will receive tickets for the drawing. The drawing will occur at approximately 5:30 p.m. and you must be present to win. Everyone is allowed to register up to 12 receipts each, Green added.

Next on the chamber's agenda was recognizing the Chamber Member of the Month. Sallisaw Mainstreet was the recipient of this month’s award for their dedication to assisting Sallisaw business owners with making improvements to their businesses and facilities.

Oklahoma Executive Director of Commerce Brent Kisling

was the keynote speaker at the November Sallisaw Chamber meeting.

Chamber President Rhonda Nicholson continued the meeting by introducing and welcoming the Oklahoma Executive Director of Commerce, Brent Kisling, as the group's keynote speaker. Kisling shared with members the differences in Oklahoma economics pre-COVID vs. post-COVID.

Kisling said the three most affected areas throughout the pandemic were public health, mental health, and economic health. Kisling explained that a comparison of reports shows post-COVID that Oklahoma is currently at a 3% unemployment rate, which is seventh in the nation, meaning it is better than 43 other states when compared.

"Oklahoma is in a better spot as far as unemployment rates than prior to the pandemic," Kisling said.

Kisling noted that workforce development has always been a problem in the state but has greatly improved since the pandemic. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of total people over the age of 16 years who are not incarcerated and are currently in the work force in the state. Oklahoma currently has a score of 60.8% of working Oklahomans.

There are three barriers that limit this number from increasing, according to Kisling. One is that Oklahoma has a higher percentage of people who are retired within the state. Two, Oklahoma has a larger number of those who are ill or disabled and unable to work. Three, Oklahoma has a great number of individuals that have caregiver responsibilities that prevent them from working.

Kisling said in order to improve economic growth in Oklahoma, all communities in the state should be aggressively pursuing growth.

"I am impressed with what I am seeing here in Sallisaw because this city is doing exactly what the commerce envisions. They are working aggressively to make sure their community is growing," Kisling stated.

Lindsie Dyer, Staff Writer

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