The economy of Chickasha is thriving as it has never thrived before.
Recent discoveries of oil and gas reserves combined with university appeal, historical attraction and convenient state location have all contributed to the overwhelming growth and development the city has experienced in recent months.
However, as with any maturing entity, further development is only accomplished by continuous maintenance, improvement and anticipation by its leaders, something that Chickasha City Manager Stewart Fairburn knows all too well.
“We have many plans of redevelopment,” Fairburn said, “because as a city, if you don’t redevelop, you die.”
Redevelopment is no simple task. There are a number of elements involved, especially for a city as old as Chickasha.
“There’s three legs to the stool—one leg is residential, one leg is retail and one leg is primary jobs,” Fairburn said. “One leg cannot become strong if the others aren’t because they all have to support each other.”
Economic Development Council President Christy Elkins has spearheaded the effort to bring Chickasha’s housing industry, or the residential leg, to the forefront of city development for 10 months.
“We have everything here — education, a great community and location — we’ve just been off of the radar for so long,” Elkins said. “I think once we get more housing and we can start to grow, we’re going to grow.”
Elkins recently received test results on a housing study she requested, which outlined the details of how and why the city is in need of more places to live. This was a key factor, she said, in making deals with interested developers.
According to data from the most recent census, Chickasha falls significantly below the homeownership rate percentage of Oklahoma, and above average for work commute time. This suggests what the housing study concluded: The few houses available in Chickasha are quite old and having used up their value, leaves those employed in Chickasha to commute to their jobs from other cities.