Guest column: Ardmore’s future continues to look bright
Oklahoma and Texas, along with the rest of the world, are getting back to something resembling pre-Covid life. For those of us in economic development, that means in-person gatherings and a few less virtual meetings. Upon the writing of this piece, I have just returned from two days of meetings with professional site selectors in Dallas. This group specializes in assisting companies from every industry imaginable find their next corporate or industrial location. Three common themes came up in every meeting and conversation over the last two days.
First, the ease of working with communities and their responsiveness has become even more important than it was 18 months ago. Oklahoma is known as a business-friendly state for our low tax burden and overall ease of getting things done. For every type of business, time is money, so anything that helps get to opening day sooner rather than later and at a better overall cost, is a win. Locally, we have worked with many companies who are shocked at how quickly the permitting process moves as well as how transparent that process is compared to their other projects on either the east or west coast. The speed that questions are answered, and information is provided is also a huge plus.
The second topic that came up repeatedly was the importance of a trained and skilled workforce in areas such as robotics, coding, and other technology-driven areas. Many of those we talked to emphasized the need for more people with certificates, not degrees, in these areas. Fortunately, for Ardmore these programs are available at Southern Tech. High school students can begin taking the courses necessary to achieve these credentials during their junior year and be certified by the time they graduate. They are then able to enter the workforce debt free and making salaries that will take their peers years to achieve. Programs designed specifically for working adults will be rolled out soon to help them obtain these same certificates, but in less time than a high school student.
Finally, many conversations revolved around the importance of collaboration between both communities within a region and the various organizations within each community. A community that cannot work together will not grow or reach its full potential. The ADA has a great partner in the City of Ardmore as well as the various utility and service providers that help projects move from paper to reality. Each organization brings something to the table and finds ways to get to the final product.
Ardmore’s future, much like the state of Oklahoma, looks bright. We have come through covid more aware of what companies are looking for and improving ourselves every day to meet the new realities of a post-covid world.
— Andrea Anderson is the Director of Marketing and Industry Relations for the Ardmore Development Authority.