OSU names Distinguished Ag Alumnus
Improved community prosperity through teamwork and economic diversification has proven to be a successful stance of Durant's Tommy Kramer, who was honored on Oct. 19 as a 2012 recipient of Oklahoma State University's Distinguished Agriculture Alumnus Award.
Kramer--who earned his Master of Science degree in animal science from OSU in 1976--has served as Durant's first and only economic development director for 14 years. In that time, he has been instrumental in the recruitment, development and retention of more than $600 million in business investments and the creation of approximately 5,000 new jobs to the community.
He has been equally dedicated to strengthening existing businesses, serving as a liaison between the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the State of Oklahoma Career Tech program to acquire several million dollars in funds for local employee training and development projects.
"Tommy is a leader and an asset to Oklahoma; quite literally, Durant and southeastern Oklahoma have been changed for the good because of him," said Roy Escoubas, director of the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center at OSU. "We certainly benefit from having him on our industry advisory committee because of his experience, insights and leadership."
Gov. Brad Henry appointed Kramer to the FAPC industry advisory committee in 2006, in part to help ensure FAPC programs continue to target key issues and concerns of Oklahoma's economic development sector.
"If you do not create industrial business development, your housing market will not be in a progressive state and your retail and commercial development will suffer," Kramer said. "Job growth leads to greater opportunities that not only strengthen the personal per capita income of households, it improves everyone's quality of life by making available funds for municipal services such as police and fire protection, improved water and sewer infrastructure, street improvements and the like. There is a very real multiplier effect."
His success in promoting economic development for Durant has earned him state, national and international recognition, including being named an Advanced Degree Graduate of Distinction by the OSU Department of Animal Science in 2009. He was named the Oklahoma Economic Development Professionals Council Oklahoma Economic Development Professional of the Year in 2003.
Kramer credits much of his success to being part of TEAM DURANT, a united effort of local citizens and community leaders working to improve the quality of life for every resident of Durant.
"The Durant Industrial Authority has a seven-member board of directors," he said. "We have a 25-member economic development council. Team development is necessary to create a higher social level in the community, which has given us a pro-business and professional standard that we have built on year after year, leading to our successes."
Prior to assuming his current position, Kramer served for five years as a professor at Eastern Oklahoma State College, 10 years as the plant production manager for Owens Country Sausage in Richardson, Texas, and 10 years as vice president of J.C. Potter Sausage Company in Durant.
His wife, Barbara, taught second grade at Durant's Washington Irving Elementary School for more than 28 years, retiring in May of 2009. His daughters Amy and Kim are both OSU alumni, having graduated in 2001 and 2004, respectively.
The OSU Distinguished Agriculture Alumnus Award is presented annually by the university's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, which is comprised of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and two state agencies: the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.