State Secretary of Commerce visits Ardmore

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
State Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplen met with the Ardmore Main Street Authority on Thursday to discuss the development of Depot Park. From left to right: Director of Marketing Taylor Steele,  Board Member Sherri Snyder, Board Chair Todd Yeager, Rep. Tammy Townley, Secretary Sean Kouplen, General Manager Jeff DiMiceli.
State Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplen and State Director for Aerospace and Defense at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce Geoffrey Camp tour King Aerospace on Thursday. From left to right: King Aerospace Controller Jack Vanderslice, Rep. Tammy Townley, Secretary Sean Kouplen, Director Geoffrey Camp.

Two state officials visited Ardmore Wednesday. On Thursday morning State Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplen and State Director for Aerospace and Defense at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce Geoffrey Camp visited the Ardmore Industrial Airpark to tour the facility and businesses. Thursday afternoon Sec. Kouplen met with the Ardmore Main Street Authority to discuss plans for the upcoming Depot Park.

Mita Bates, President and CEO of the Ardmore Development Authority, said the morning’s visit was extremely productive as it was Sec. Kouplen’s first visit to the Ardmore area. In addition to touring the existing businesses, the group was also able to visit the site for ATS World Wide, the aircraft towing system prototype company, that broke ground in November as well as the future site of Skydweller, which was announced last week.

“The secretary was very impressed with all of the assets Ardmore has to offer — not just at the Airpark but with downtown and the community as a whole,” Bates said. “As we get more state officials here, it helps to promote Ardmore and our area better statewide. Often it seems like all the attention gets paid to Oklahoma City and Tulsa as metro areas, and that’s understandable. But now the ability for them to go out and help market our community with firsthand knowledge is a great benefit to us.”

Sec. Kouplen had lunch with members of the AMSA where they discussed the history of the area along with some of the more recent developments such as the recently completed streetscape project. AMSA board member Sherri Snyder then told Sec. Kouplen about Depot Park and the hope it will serve as an anchor to the kinds of development needed to help attract professionals into the city. 

“We’re hearing from some of our larger employees that they are having trouble hiring for some of their positions because there are not as many nightlife, shopping and dining options available needed to attract young professionals,” Snyder said. “As this park grows we’re hoping this will begin to attract more things downtown that will be unique to the city.”

Once completed the park will have availability for up to 80 spaces for vendors or booths for large events.

“It will have 65 locations that have electricity available and about 15 more that will not,” Snyder said. “They’ll be linked to a central switch that can turn the power on and off as it's needed, and the plan is to have cultural events and different kinds of shows that we can bring into the park to advance the commerce of our downtown and our city.”

AMSA General manager Jeff DiMiceli said the board had discussed building a permanent stage in the park but has chosen to make the space more versatile with this setup instead. All the infrastructure will be in place for large events, and if a stage space is needed it can be brought in.

Snyder also highlighted the park has already received $825,000 in cash and commitments from local foundations and individuals along with a $600,000 grant from the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. They are awaiting the results of two grants worth a combined $1.135 million which will be announced by the end of the month. If these two grants are awarded, funding for construction of the park will be entirely complete.