March 20, 2013

Grady developing well economically

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — Businesses of every kind are making their way into Grady County as of late.

Chickasha Economic Development Council Director Kristy Elkins said her office has been focusing primarily on retail and housing in the past few weeks.

"We are getting ready to send out our recruitment packages to several possible developers," she said.

Elkins said there are several site locators that have come to Chickasha in search of space to build their establishment. Elkins is also in the process of putting every Chickasha business on the EDC's website, which should attract more potential investors.

The advent of the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province has brought several members of the energy industry to Elkin's door as well.

"I met with an oil company yesterday that is looking at Chickasha as a potential headquarters for this region," she said.

With most interested companies searching for square footage accommodations between 3,000 square feet and 5,000 square feet, Elkins said there are several vacant buildings in Chickasha that could be put to use.

There have even been businesses charmed enough so much by the city that they have considered building large facilities, said Elkins.

"One was looking to build a 50 to 75,000 square foot structure," she said. "Luckily the banks and the people in the community are willing to aid in the building process to bring in larger companies."

Tourism has also seen a recent spike in Chickasha.

Bud Andrus, president of the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce said a tourism committee is just starting with City Manager Stewart Fairburn at the helm.

"The goal is to expand the chamber's function in tourism," Andrus said. "Our single biggest hope is to expand contribution of tourism in the area and the city."

Heavily supporting the Festival of Light, the tourism committee and the chamber hope to one day make Chickasha a destination of choice, but the process is in its infancy, Andrus said.

As for retail, Elkins said she is working on a couple of shopping strip stores at the moment, but Chickasha's real need is housing.

"There are some things that need to come together first before we can really throw our hat into the ring for some of these businesses," Elkins said. "If I have a business interested that needs 100 jobs we need to have the housing to support it."