In the history of the Ardmore Development Authority, few years have had as much significance for the trust as 2013 will.
This year, the authority board will be tasked with finding a replacement for long-time President and CEO Wes Stucky and will also need to put a new tax resolution before the people calling for a ¼-cent sales tax to help fund operations. A similar resolution was defeated in the Nov. 6 election.
During the last meeting in 2012, the ADA board approved officers for the upcoming year. Larry Pulliam was selected as chairman for 2013 by the nominating board, taking the place of Phil McAnally. James Chambers is vice-chairman and Jessica Pfau will serve as treasurer.
Pulliam acknowledged the big tasks lying before the ADA this year - a seamless transition of CEO's while preparing for another run at a sales tax.
"There are two big things, the transition from Wes Stucky to his replacement and the sales tax for jobs. We cannot keep operating without those funds," Pulliam said. "It is critical to have Wes' successor by the fall and we intend to have his successor in play on May 1, the first day after he has retired."
Pulliam noted that the person who succeeds Stucky would need to lead a campaign to better inform the voters of Ardmore the role ADA plays in the community. He cited that reason as one that was responsible for voters failing to approve the sales tax in November.
"The sales tax was gut-wrenching," Pulliam said. "It was such a shock to us. There are all sorts of theories why it failed but, in my view, the community did not realize the importance of ADA. Going forward, we have to do a better job of informing the public how important ADA is and how important it is to the community."
One of the ways the ADA will stress the importance of the ADA is emphasizing how it touches all facets of the community, from economic development to health and education.
As chairman, Pulliam also noted how he views the mission of the ADA in the future. He cited the partnership the ADA has developed with Amethyst Research as an example of the type of companies the ADA hopes to attract.
"There is something the ADA has to come to grips with," Pulliam said. "The dynamics of economic development are changing. In the past, we have had a focus on industrial recruitment and that mission has been accomplished. We have 3.8 percent unemployment and if an industry wanted to come to Ardmore with 500 jobs, we couldn't fill the need.
"We need to focus on smaller, higher end, higher paying jobs. Amethyst is kind of the kernel of the seed and I see it as a future for us. They have begun a small cluster of similar companies."
Pulliam also expressed excitement about the railway project at the Ardmore Municipal Airport but the main priority will be making 2013 a year in which the ADA moves forward. And that hinges on two issues.
"If we can make a transition from Wes, bring in a new CEO and work on the sales tax, it will be a great year," Pulliam said.