By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6
MUSKOGEE, OK -- Oklahoma's unemployment rate has hit a 16 year high.
Numbers released Friday put the state's jobless rate at 6.3%. The statistics from the Employment Security Commission show Green Country isn't immune to the national economic troubles.
Sales tax revenue in local towns is at record lows.
Larry Corvi, a Muskogee newspaper publisher, came up with a plan to help encourage local spending, even in a struggling economy. He asked his readers to spend $20 at local businesses on Saturday, June 20 to generate sales tax revenue.
The plan worked at Runt's Barbeque. Dusty Walters, a waitress, said she was glad to see the crowds.
"Normally on Saturdays, the waitresses that work all day, we normally make good money, but lately it's been really slow," said Dusty Walters, a waitress.
"When you add it up, I thought we had to do something extraordinary, something different to draw attention to it," said Larry Corvi, Muskogee Phoenix Publisher.
Larry Corvi knows times are tough, but he wanted his readers to understand the importance of spending money locally.
"The more of those dollars that leave town, the harder it is to improve conditions," said Corvi.
This past week, Corvi published two editorials explaining how $20 can go a long way.
At the weekly farmer's market, Tonya Brooks said she bought extra produce.
"Because of the recession and all, I think it's a way to help keep the money here in Muskogee and help Muskogee continue to try to survive like everybody else is," said Tonya Brooks, a Muskogee resident.
Corvi said for all the big talk about economic recovery, its small-town spending that makes the biggest difference.
Corvi said he's in touch with several local retailers and he'll hear back next week if there was a big boost in business Saturday. He said he would like to have a "Spend 20 on the 20th" date every three months.