Wes Watkins to lead rural economic effort

Monday, August 15th 2005, 2:48 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Former Congressman Wes Watkins will lead an effort to revitalize economically depressed rural areas of Oklahoma.

State House Speaker Todd Hiett said Monday Watkins is being hired to lead the Rural Economic Development Initiative and develop a plan to create jobs in rural Oklahoma. Watkins will be on a $60,000 retainer for the project.

The project is being paid for with $114,000 in legislative funds controlled by Hiett and a matching grant from Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma.

Hiett says the plan is to survey leaders in rural areas and small business owners, then work with county extension agents to identify economic development opportunities.

Hiett also says Representatives Dale Dewitt and Don Armes will lead a task force and develop legislation to improve the state's rural economy.