Four Southern Oklahoma communities will soon be home to two new community centers and two head starts, creating space for neighborhood and cultural growth within the Choctaw Nation. Totaling more than 13,000 square feet, the structures will be located in Atoka, Bethel and Hugo. This partnership among the Choctaw Nation and REI Oklahoma will create more than 600 construction jobs, and put at least 20 Oklahomans to work permanently, in counties with a combined unemployment rate of 6.9% for the last year.
Through REI Development Corp. and the Choctaw Nation, New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) funding of $14.1 million has been injected into the projects. The community centers, benefiting Bethel and Hugo will offer lunch and exercise equipment to tribal members, plus an on-staff health professional to provide basic health assessments. The head start buildings, in Bethel and Atoka, will be a place of nurturing and development for approximately 50 children per year.
“Choctaw Nation is proud to partner with REI Oklahoma to bring these much needed services to the area. Both REI Oklahoma and The Choctaw Nation are working diligently to improve the standard of living in Southeastern Oklahoma,” said Chief Gary Batton of the Choctaw Nation.
Since receiving its first federally-funded NMTC allocation, REI Development Corp. projects completed in Oklahoma total more than $842 million, affecting more than 3,000 jobs. In 2015, the organization was awarded a $35 million allocation from the U.S Treasury, and is currently embarking on other projects which will provide opportunities for Oklahomans.
“This expansion for the Choctaw Nation will allow them to expand critically-needed community services in remote areas of the Choctaw Nation,” said Scott Dewald, REI Development Corp. President. “Ultimately, these facilities will result in enhanced well-being for Oklahomans – and we are proud to have had this opportunity to work with the Choctaw Nation on these important projects.”
Recent NMTC projects across the state include the revitalization of buildings in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, expansion of the healthcare facilities at Valir Health in Oklahoma City and the transformation of Oklahoma City’s Fred Jones Building into a 21c boutique hotel and museum. Other successful beneficiaries of the NMTC program made available through REI Oklahoma have included healthcare facilities in Muskogee, Stigler, Tahlequah, Wetumka and Tulsa.