The Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority (CIEDA) gave a presentation to the Claremore City Council last week of the economic development progress made in 2019.
The report was given by CIEDA Director John Feary, CIEDA Project Manager Kaleigh Hossack and CIEDA Talent Development Manager Meggie Froman-Knight.
Feary said that CIEDA’s biggest priority in 2018 was the creation of primary jobs, followed by the expansion of new rooftops and the growth of the retail economy.
“We’ve had a good year, as is evidenced by Suzan’s monthly updates with our continued growth in both sales tax and use tax,” Feary said, referring to City Treasurer Suzan Maloy. “We hope that trend continues.”
“While we do feel there will be some slowing in the economy over the next couple of years, we will not have any contraction,” Feary said. “The growth will continue, it will just go at a slower pace, starting some time next year.”
Hossack highlighted that CIEDA’s attention to business retention in 2018.
“More than 80 percent of the job growth that any community sees comes from existing businesses,” Hossack said. “We really want to make sure that we are focusing on those manufacturers that have already chosen to make Claremore home and give them the support they need to continue to grow.”
Hosack said that job growth in Claremore has continued at a steady rate, with about 400 new jobs this year.
“We have seen three different manufacturing expansions that have begun this year, as well as the recruitment of one new manufacturing facility, which we are excited to be able to publicly announce shortly after the first of the year,” Hossack said.
CIEDA also updated their website this year, to better display all the information that new businesses and site selectors are looking for when deciding where to start or branch their company.
“It’s really important for Claremore that as companies are looking to grow and expand that there is a single platform they are able to go on to find all the data and statistics they need in on our community,” Hossack said.
In addition to new job creation, there are also many jobs that are chronically open in Claremore due to an unskilled workforce.
Froman-Knight highlighted CIEDA’s talent and workforce pipeline programs, designed to alleviate that issue.
In 2018, CIEDA worked with local schools on their Individual Career Academic Plan programs to introduce students to a variety of careers, helped facilitate Partners in Education, continued their support of Junior Achievement BizTown and began job and internship placement programs at local businesses for highschool students.
“In August, we were honored to have seven of our Claremore Emerging Manufacturing Leaders honored,” in a state-wide recognition, Froman-Knight said.
In October, eight FFA students in Oologah, Sequoyah and Claremore were placed in full-time, local, manufacturing jobs making $14.50 an hour, with help and guidance from CIEDA staff.
In November, Michael Willis and Kyle Dillingham of Disney’s “Cars” visited Claremore elementary schools to speak to students.
Third graders from several schools toured Pelco Structural as part of Career Exposure Week.
“Just since Oct. 25 of this year in Rogers County, we have impacted close to 15,000 students,” Froman-Knight said.
They also produced videos this year that were shared with the public via social media explaining the various career options within manufacturing in Claremore.
Feary spoke about CIEDA’s relationship with the county at large, and how new industrial development in Inola, Chelsea and other Rogers County towns, Claremore will ultimately benefit as the county seat.
“This will be where they spend their money, and hopefully this will be where they live,” Feary said.
Feary said that 2019 will see increases in available housing and continued emphasis on Junior Achievement BizTown and Junior Achievement Finance Park.
“90 percent of our time and resources right now are focused on workforce development, and that is just to make us sustainable,” Feary said. “I firmly believe that we have a very positive four year outlook on our economy … our industries and primary job creators are going to continue to grow over the next four years.”
“Real economic growth is something we are experiencing right now,” Feary said. “While you may not see the big, bright neon sign, or the ‘opening soon’ on the newest retail store, economic development is happening.”