Economic development means different things – Published in the August 15-21 edition of the Johnston County Sentinel

Hello everyone! I hope that you are having a great week and are staying as cool as possible. This week I want to talk to you about economic development. A couple of weeks back I attended the Rural Economic Development Conference in Durant, and today (Monday) was the first of a two-day conference known as the Governor’s Economic Development & Workforce Summit. In addition to the day-to-day operations of the Chamber, I also work on a core initiatives like marketing, quality of life programs and events, natural resource preservation, and economic development (ED). To me, ED is a very broad concept that includes business and talent recruitment and retention, workforce development, job creation, knowing the asset inventory of the community, incentive programs, taxes, etc. It’s A LOT of different things.

Involvement with Oklahoma Southeast, a regional ED organization, has been absolutely critical for me to learn and understand what ED is, has introduced me to people that know exactly what opportunities and barriers we face in rural Oklahoma, and are mentoring and encouraging me to keep learning and developing my skills that will help my communities. Attending these conferences has been fascinating. I am a note-taker and today alone I took 26 pages of notes.

Today, we heard from Governor Stitt and Secretary of Commerce, Sean Kouplen about the state’s recruitment efforts and growth. I attended five breakout sessions which included topics like Innovations in Manufacturing 4.0, Business Retention & Expansion in the 21st Century, Finding Grants for Development, and Increasing Start-Up Density Statewide. We really have some amazing talent and leaders in Oklahoma and there are some very innovative and progressive projects happening all over the state, including here.

I’m learning more and more that connectivity is key. Yes, it can feel like there are barriers between rural and urban, and a lot of the time opportunities are different because of the difference in size, but this is 2019. Everything is on the internet. Let’s get connected.

Building relationships and knowing someone that can answer a question is key. If I don’t know the answer to your question, I want to know the person that will.

We need to support our manufacturers! Did you know that in 5 years, there will be 20,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs in Oklahoma? Some of the highest paying jobs in the state. That’s incredible to me. Here are some websites I wrote down to investigate, maybe you can too.

Have ideas? Let’s hear them! We already have some great things going for us. Murray State College and the Chickasaw Nation are huge partners! How can we build on their investments in Johnston County? Tomorrow (Tuesday) is another round of learning. More on that next week! I promise I’ll get back to my regular Member Spotlights soon! Have an amazing week.

– Jordyn Frazier, Executive Director