Christie Cooper Myers is Director of National Recruiting for Commerce’s Business Development division. In this role, she is responsible for leading the outbound business development efforts to recruit new companies to Oklahoma, as well as leading and directing the team of site selection project managers. This role gives her unique insight into what site selectors are looking for in communities.
The New Pioneer sat down with her to get her take on what communities can do to attract new or expanding projects to their area.
NP: What can communities do to assist site selectors in their search?
CM: Oklahoma communities do an excellent job of showcasing their communities. Site selectors need data from communities and they want to know that a community can help a company be successful. Types of data would be workforce (local, statewide, broken out by skillsets, pipeline of graduates), training programs and largest employers.
NP: What are site selectors looking for in a community to make it a viable option?
CM: Existing buildings that are in good shape, sites with infrastructure in place, available workforce, strong schools, both secondary and higher education and a supportive community structure.
NP: What can rural communities do to make themselves more attractive for projects?
CM: Identify buildings and sites that could be proposed for interested companies and conduct target industry and workforce studies to better identify the types of companies that would best fit in their community. Make sure your buildings and sites are listed on LocateOK.com, Commerce’s database of available buildings and sites in the state.
NP: How can a community identify what they have that is unique and compelling for site selectors?
CM: Thinking outside of the box may sound cliché but communities have more to offer than just financial incentives. Examples might be offering temporary space for a company until a facility is ready, hospitals or clinics offering wellness testing for employees, discounted permitting, or site preparation. Our Regional Development Team is always available to help rural communities with ideas to help them be more competitive.