The Rogers County Board of County Commissioners expressed intent to enter into an agreement with the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce Tulsa’s Future III program during a regular BOCC board meeting Monday.
The partnership is in hopes of creating more jobs using a comprehensive regional economic development strategy developed in the early 2000s, which is now in its third phase.
Additional strategies have been added since it began.
Kian Kamas, vice president of economic development for the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, said Tulsa Future III looks at targeting job creation in seven target industries: energy; health care; aerospace and aviation; transportation and logistics; professional services and regional headquarters; information technology; and advanced manufacturing.
Kamas said the plan looked at those industries to see how they could foster them and also bring new companies to the region.
In 2010, members of Tulsa’s Future went back to the drawing board realizing Tulsa was actually a fairly small city with a population of approximately 415,000 people.
“If we are going to compete with the Dallas’, the Kansas City’s, the Atlanta’s and other metropolitan areas, then we need to think much larger,” Kamas said.
This means bringing in communities from the northeastern part of Oklahoma, she emphasized, which is currently growing regionally in exponential numbers.
There are 28 regional partners and an additional 120 private investors, which she claims is a “balanced approach to economic development with a heavy focus on private investment supplemented by small public dollars,” raising $16.9 million.
The balanced approach requires a “holistic approach” to the four pillars of growth, she said, which is a new strategy.
The first pillar is the prosperous future, which includes job retention. “But, in order to get there, we have to make sure there is a skilled (second pillar), talented workforce,” she said.
She said they make sure they promote small businesses and entrepreneurship (innovative future), as well as promote community development (livable future). These are key areas that are tracked closely and reported back to their board.
Kamas asked the board for a five-year commitment but District 1 Commissioner Dan DeLozier explained the county could not agree to anything beyond one year.
District 2 Commissioner Steve Hendrix wanted to know if Tulsa’s Future would be competing with other local organizations and if they worked in conjunction with other organizations.
Kamas said they do not compete locally and consider their organization to be in direct operation with other groups, such as Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority (CIEDA) and the Port of Catoosa, among others.
District 3 Commissioner Ron Burrows said he is aware that this is a mindshift from traditional business but communities across the country have “figured this out.” He said there is “strength in numbers” and that is what is needed in order to attract big businesses that bring in a lot of jobs and dollars.
The final approval of the agreement will take place in the next BOCC meeting, as well as when the contract would start.