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October 9, 1995

It is difficult to gauge the feeling of elation shared by Perry civic workers and officials, and all of us just plain citizens, as we relish our city's selection by All American Corn Processors as the site for a new $400 million plant. After years of preparation for just such a moment as this, and numerous frustrations along the way, now it seems we have landed an authentic economic plum.

Tom Ladnier, president of the processing company, was warmly received last week by a group of Perryans at an informal gathering, one day before making a formal announcement of our city's selection. Though we all were hopeful, the news came earlier than expected and it was like a thunderbolt. We had to pinch ourselves to make sure all this was not a dream.

Mr. Ladnier is a warm, friendly Southern gentleman with a gentle Dixie drawl, and he seemed to feel right at home here. Now we know that he will indeed be an integral part of this community through his new business venture. Welcome to Perrry, sir!

Mr. Ladnier appeared to be genuinely pleased with the informal get-together, which was attended by a few of his associates and Dr. Ron Long from the Oklahoma State University International Trade Center. Later, when Mayor Bud Hollingsworth asked Mr. Ladnier what tipped the scales in Perry's favor when the final choice for this plant was down to Guthrie, Nowata and us, he said it was two things: "First, location, location, location. Then it was people, people, people."

So it seems that at long last our unique advantage in being at the intersection of two major railroad lines, plus the I-35 interstate highway, U.S. highways 77 and 64 and the proximity to the Will Rogers Turnpike, along with an airport which has great developmental potential, have paid off handsomely. The corn processing plant will handle 96 rail carloads of shelled corn daily, and will ship much of its finished product on overland trucks. From Perry, you can easily get to just about anywhere in the world.

And Mr. Ladnier's nice compliment to the people of this community is well received. As time goes on, I know he will find that the folks who live hereabout are dependable, straightforward, the salt of the earth, with a good work ethic, and a sense of responsibility that should warm the heart of any employer.

It is too early to be applying for a job at the new plant. For one thing, the negotiations for land apparently are still going on. Also, final financial arrangements are pending. But assuming all goes as planned, there should be zero unemployment in Noble county in a few months with more than 500 new jobs being created here. The annual payroll is estimated to be about $30 million.

The newly formed Perry Economic Development Authority, composed of the mayor and our eight city councilmen, will issue $600 million in bonds. The city officials and the city of Perry will not be liable for a penny if the project fails, according to terms of the arrangement. The bonds will be sold at $25 million-each over a two-year period. The development authority will receive $100,000 when the first bond is sold to cover its expenses.

Walter Maslowski, the processing firm's financial adviser, said a syndicate of European banks will finance the purchase of the bonds. Such transactions are new to Oklahoma but not to other parts of the U.S. Mr. Maslowski said the process is relatively standard when dealing with the international market.

A plant like this will have a major impact on our community. All of our facilities will be strained -- the schools, municipal services, the hospital and medical care, our entire infrastructure. With heavier railroad traffic imminent, we may need an overpass or underpass on the east and south sides of the city. Long delays in crossing the tracks already are being experienced by motorists as slow-moving freight trains move through here. Churches and all civic organizations will gain new members. Many new homes will be needed. All these things will provide a shot in the arm to Perry's economy, and the benefits will be long term.

It's the start of a brand new chapter in the intriguing history of this city, and one that promises to stimulate growth for this entire area. Probably no one individual can rightfully take the credit for this spectacular development, but several have worked tirelessly and almost anonymously to make it happen and we all owe them our thanks. But, as Mr. Ladnier says, it was location, location, location, and people, people, people that influenced his decision. Let's say a special prayer of thanksgiving for the legacy left to us by those rugged, hard-working pioneers who made Perry what it is -- the queen city of the Cherokee Strip -- and instilled in all of us the will to be the kind of people Mr. Ladnier was seeking.