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Oklahoma Department of Commerce

Workshop in Weatherford helps rural communities use free data sources for economic development

On Dec. 11, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce Research Team hosted a workshop at the Western Technology Center in Weatherford to help communities better respond to RFPs (requests for proposal) and RFIs (requests for information). Community leaders from Alva, Clinton, Weatherford and Yukon were in attendance.

RFPs usually ask for detailed workforce and population information as well as available buildings and sites. Finding that data can be difficult if you don’t know where to look. Teaching smaller communities how to find the right data gives them the tools they need to go after business expansion projects that best fit their communities and bring new primary jobs and investments to rural Oklahoma. Communities explored how to choose projects that avoid adverse impacts on existing businesses and boost expansion opportunities.

During the workshop, presenters talked about the importance of taking a regional approach to responding to RFPs, especially when identifying potential workforce. In smaller communities, individuals will often drive further (sometimes even across state lines) for quality employment. By widening a radius beyond city or county limits, communities can find additional pockets of potential workforce for interested companies, and make their community a more desirable prospect.

The hands-on workshops cover the proposal process, free tools from the U.S. Census Bureau, OESC Employer Locator and Commerce’s buildings and sites database. Attendees for these workshops typically include city managers, economic development professionals, community leaders, grant writers, and legislators, among others. Along with the hands on training, attendees receive the regional-specific PowerPoint presentation and the direct links to the sources used in the exercise.

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