Chickashanews.com

April 12, 2014

State commerce report shows substantial job, population growth in Grady County

BY RACHEL SNYDER
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA —

Grady County, like the rest of the central Oklahoma region, is experiencing both population and job growth.

Chickasha Mayor Hank Ross said the city is seeing job growth particularly from the oil and gas industry and has seen sales tax revenue double in the last 10 years, to reach $1 million last December.

Ross said he expects the city to continue to see advancement as part of the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province and shale development.

"I think if we do the right thing from a community development standpoint, we're going to see great things in Chickasha," he said. "I think we're sandwiched between Oklahoma City and Lawton, we have people who work in both of those places and we've captured some of that growth…our hotels are full."

However, Grady County still has more commuters than the rest of the central Oklahoma region, according to a recent Oklahoma Department of Commerce report. The city of Chickasha is working to increase quality housing to improve this problem.

51 percent of people live and work in Grady County versus 56.4 percent in Oklahoma County, according to the central Oklahoma workforce briefing.

Ross said the daytime population of Chickasha is approximately 25,000, with approximately 18,000 living in the city.

He said the city is working to clean up existing housing and add single-family homes to Sleepy Hollow Boulevard, the first new housing addition in Chickasha since the '70s.

"There's a lack of appropriate housing for single families [in Chickasha]…We want people to live here and take their children to school here," Chickasha Area Economic Development Council Executive Director Christy Elkins said.

Ross said Chickasha is adding new housing and cleaning up the city to compete with other cities in the central Oklahoma region, including Yukon, Mustang and El Reno.

The average annual earnings for all industries in Grady County is $39,600 compared to $55,500 in Oklahoma County, according to the report.

Ross said the city is working to bring businesses to town to create jobs, and he expects the presence of the oil and gas industry to drive economic growth.

Having good-quality schools, universities and vocational schools is important to increasing the amount of higher-paying jobs in the county, especially with the amount of jobs requiring post-secondary training or an associates degree expected to increase.

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and the Canadian Valley Technology Center's Chickasha campus provide options for Grady County residents to improve their career.

"I think we're at a real advantage because of the presence of a four-year institution and the vo-tech (technology center)," Ross said. "I think our schools are doing a good job."