Benefits from the Wal-Mart distribution center in Washington County

Thursday, July 22nd 2004, 2:25 pm
By: News On 6

Wal-Mart doesn't do anything small, but the new distribution center they're building in Washington County is big even by their standards.

The small towns around them, such as Ramona, are already seeing the benefit of the ripple effect.

News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg says the distribution center is nearly a million square feet. And its effect is being felt for many more miles around.

Ramona is situated between Tulsa and Bartlesville is just a mile or so away from the new Wal-Mart facility and local gift shop owner Barb Buttman says it's the proverbial sleepy little town. "That's it, but we're hoping it comes alive and wakes up."

The Wal-Mart distribution center is certainly an eye-opening. Ramona Mayor Robert Fiddler had one thought when he drove by. "I think oh my word that is big." Ramona has about 500 residents, about the same number that's expected to be employed at the plant.

Not that anyone is expecting the town's population to double, but they've heard a couple of new subdivisions may be in the works. "Just that they're planning on making more housing to house these people to where they don't have to live too far away."

Like a lot of little towns, Ramona struggles with its economy. Mayor Fiddler says they lost an oil tank farm awhile back. "We lost a lot of money when that tank farm went out. This used to be one of the richest school districts in the state." But now, developers have broken ground on a new shopping center in Ramona with a restaurant, a bank, and other retail. "That bank wouldn't have come in unless they thought there would be more business on that side of the street."

And they say it was prompted by the big boy down the street.