The Ardmore Development Authority has several irons in the fire, with the most significant being a campaign for renewal of a ¼-cent sales tax.
But that has not kept the organization from looking toward the future.
During its meeting Monday, the board of trustees laid out a blueprint for the foreseeable future with approval of the 2014-24 Strategic Priorities. The priorities represent a shift in thinking, as one of the focal points will be to recruit employees to fill high-end positions that Ardmore businesses have trouble keeping filled.
In a presentation, Interim President & CEO Brian Carter listed the item as recruitment and attraction of professionally skilled/semi-skilled trades and upwardly mobile entry-level workers to address the chronic labor shortage for existing employees. The other two priorities are realization of the international trade center and logistics hub, and continuing to attract new industries.
Carter believes the priority of recruiting professionally skilled workers is on the cutting edge, as it rarely is listed as an economic development priority, despite the concern it draws in conventions throughout the nation. Discussion also centered on the steps needed to ensure recruitment of the worker, which included housing and other amenities.
"Ardmore is blessed to have a low unemployment rate, but new industries get scared off if you can't support current ones," Carter said. "The current industries have huge concerns over staffing issues. Getting new industries means we have to sustain the ones we have."
In regard to the realization of the international trade center and logistics hub, a marketing presentation for the Ardmore Airpark was one of the highlights of the meeting. One of the marketing features was a name change for the facility. Dan Martel, senior vice president and chief creative officer for the marketing firm Saxum, presented the name Ameripointe for the airpark, and discussed plans for a marketing video, which will be shot next week. The focus was explained as one of a global focus.
Marc Nuttle, managing partner of Oklahoma Sovereign Development LLC, said the laying of railroad track to connect the trade center to the rail line is progressing, and is expected to be finished in September. The facility will be able to receive shipping in November.
The new fiscal year budget was approved. The outlook is not as good as in years past because the current sales tax will expire in September. The ADA put together a budget based on the premise the ¼-cent sales tax vote Sept. 10 will be approved. But there would still be a period of time in which the authority would be without the tax revenue. Even with cuts, the current budget reflects a deficit of $342,425.15 for operations at the airpark, and $125,025.15 for the other ADA operations. That deficit could grow should the federal government either cut or drop funding in September for the control tower.
The ADA could add another substantial cost to its budget. Following an executive session, the trustees authorized Carter to negotiate, develop financing and contract to acquire up to 275 acres, at a cost not to exceed $2.8 million. Carter said the land was in the vicinity of the airpark, but was unable to expand any further on the due to confidentiality.