The Oklahoma Department of Commerce (Commerce) met with the Shawnee’s Economic Development team to discuss ways they can further assist them in growing business in Shawnee and assisting their economic development efforts.
Shawnee’s Georg Fischer location continues to expand its business there. With their new Innovation Center (link to blog story)
Shawnee saw success with the completion of a new industry Universal Forest Products Inc, (UFPI) build a 25,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in the northern portion of Shawnee.
Tim Burg has served as the Executive Director/CEO of the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation, (SEDF), a public/private partnership between the City of Shawnee and the local business community. The organization is dedicated to building the economy of Shawnee and the surrounding region. Burg has learned a lot and has some advice for other communities like his seeking new and expanding businesses.
• Be ready by knowing what you have to offer any prospect. That can include knowing what properties are available, (land and or buildings), the zoning of those sites, who controls the property, if utilities are at site, their various capacities of those utilities, the respective contacts for those services and any basic costs that apply, also be able to determine if any environmental studies have been completed, and what the access to any transportation infrastructure is.
• It would also be wise to also have a good grasp on the workforce status of your area, regarding what you can supply, the wage comparison information that your can supply to a site selector, what kinds of businesses are already in the area, and what training capacities your community, area or region can provide. Everyone around the US has workforce issues, but for us one of our strengths in not only what we already have and what we can produce, but also what we have in the workforce pipeline that will help provide us with skilled workers in the near future. Both short term and long term workforce goals and plans are critical.
• I think it is vital that any community be honest about what kinds of businesses they can attract and also sustain. Lofty goals are a wonderful thing to have, but with limited resources sometimes a community needs to be honest with themselves and focus their time and energy on areas that will provide the greatest return on their investment. I
• Lastly I think the best offense is a good defense and any good business attraction program begins with a great BR&E effort. For me Business Retention and Expansion is the cornerstone of our economic development efforts, for without taking care of what we already have, how can we prove to others that this is a good place for them to locate their own business. More often than not the new business prospect wants to speak with an existing plant manager, and if we haven’t been taking care of our existing companies, what kind of a report will that existing plant manager give us? Probably not a good recommendation