Our Story

Changing Lives and Transforming Communities Since 1982

REI Oklahoma began with the vision of a man who understood the limitations brought on by poverty, lack of jobs and lack of opportunities. He understood because he experienced it. That man made a decision and a commitment to bring positive change to the area. Ultimately even the United States Congress learned to appreciate his passion to make a difference. That man was Wes Watkins and he served two years as State Senator and 14 years as Congressman, representing Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District.

In 1980, an organization with a focus on inventors was formed to foster industrial and economic growth in southeastern Oklahoma. It was known as the Industrial Technology Research and Development Center (ITRAD). In 1982 another organization, Rural Enterprises Development Corporation (REDC) was established to bring new jobs and new opportunities to citizens of southeastern Oklahoma. In 1984, these two organizations merged and the name was changed to RURAL ENTERPRISES, INC. In 1996, the organization name changed to RURAL ENTERPRISES OF OKLAHOMA, INC. and in 2011 we re-branded as REI Oklahoma to better represent the entire state.

REI Oklahoma began as a basic business financing organization. The past 40 years, it has become known as one of the most comprehensive economic development organizations in the state and nation.  REI Oklahoma has focused on cultivating an environment conducive to economic growth and job creation for more than three decades. With offices throughout Oklahoma, we work closely with lenders statewide to help businesses thrive by zeroing in on relationship-building and person-to-person outreach, helping entrepreneurs navigate through business resources and REI Business Lending  programs.

Introduced in 2002, the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) Program has bolstered REI Oklahoma’s ability to spur lending activity by leveraging private investment funds. This program has attracted more than $1.3 billion in investments in Oklahoma.

Looking to purchase a home and need assistance?  REI Down Payment Assistance is helping people become homeowners and community stakeholders.  Recognizing that down payments and closing costs are stumbling blocks for many potential home buyers, REI Oklahoma is ready and able to offer guidance toward the dream of home ownership.

For women-owned businesses and minority-owned enterprises, REI Women’s Business Center and REI Minority Business Centers offer unique training, as well as technical assistance, one-on-one business consulting and access to capital.

We also have commercial business space available, including a commercial kitchen, for accommodating many types of start-up or expanding businesses from smaller, customizable office space to larger warehouse or manufacturing space. REI Oklahoma provides business assistance to reduce the risk of failure and help develop businesses into wealth generating and job creating entities.

The successes of REI Oklahoma are a testament to its talented and dedicated staff. This commitment is reinforced each year as employees continue to volunteer for community service projects and non-profit organizations.  With expertise, determination and committed people, REI Oklahoma provides solutions for Oklahoma businesses and communities every day.


REI Oklahoma does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to all.  The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Heidi McKnight, Human Resources, REI Oklahoma, 2912 Enterprise Dr., Durant, OK 74701, or (580)924-5094.