I played in the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce Golf tournament this past Friday with a friend from High School. It was great to catch up with him and reminisce about about growing up in Chickasha. He said he was a little surprised that I had moved back home and wanted to know more specifically just what I thought Economic Development means for Chickasha.
I have read comments on social media that ask that same question. To some people, economic development only means offering incentives to people to develop old buildings or to bring a new business to town. Growing jobs in Chickasha will always be my top priority, but there are many ways to get that done. Things like “promoting the City’s image in the job market so that the City will be looked favorably upon,” “promoting cultural, commercial, industrial and economic events…for the benefit of the City of Chickasha and its residents,” and “support efforts to retain existing businesses to provide for sound growth,” can all lead to new jobs.
B,R,& E is referred to as Business Retention and Expansion and often gets overlooked when discussing economic development. In April, May and June when the pandemic was just beginning, I had an opportunity to meet with many local businesses. The EDC purchased over $30,000 in gift cards from local merchants and partnered with The Chamber in Restaurant Bingo, Shop Chickasha and Tunes in June. The gift cards and marketing campaign had an almost $100,000 economic impact to Chickasha, but showing business owners that we want to help them during a crisis is much more important.
In the past few weeks, I have talked to three local businesses that are interested in expanding their current operations. Their business is growing and they have questions about bigger buildings, how to fill out state grants, or solutions for finding qualified employees. Each business will be adding between five to ten new jobs. Those kind of numbers may not grab the headlines, but what does that mean for Chickasha?
When most people look back on this year, they will only see all the turmoil and division due to the pandemic. What I see is that we are slowly growing. A business bringing a bunch of new jobs would certainly be welcomed, but several businesses expanding and adding several new jobs because their current location right here in Chickasha is doing so well, that’s #TheGoodStuff.