Tulsa's Future wraps up five-year regional economic development plan
28 Dec 2020
Tulsa’s Future, the public-private regional economic development partnership led by the Tulsa Regional Chamber, will mark the completion of the third five-year phase of its economic development plan at the end of December. Since 2016, Tulsa’s Future has supported the creation of 16,704 jobs and more than $1.9 billion of capital investment in northeast Oklahoma.
Tulsa’s Future is a collaborative economic development partnership that works with the City of Tulsa, more than 200 private investors, and numerous regional and tribal partners to further economic prosperity in the Tulsa region. Since its inception 15 years ago, Tulsa’s Future has supported the creation of more than 69,000 jobs and more than $3.8 billion in capital investment.
During its third five-year phase from 2016 to 2020, Tulsa’s Future supported a number of major economic development projects, including Greenheck Group’s multi-phase manufacturing campus, Sofidel’s $360 million plant in Inola, Amazon’s 2.5 million-square-foot fulfillment center and Milo’s Tea Company’s expansion to Tulsa.
“Tulsa’s Future is a proven model of collaboration that has put the Tulsa region on the map as an ideal place for companies to grow,” says Justin McLaughlin, executive vice president, COO and interim senior vice president of economic development for the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “Through business retention and expansion efforts, we’ve supported new job growth in the region while also attracting world-class companies to locate here, further positioning Tulsa as a nationally competitive city.”
While the Chamber’s economic development strategy pivoted in response to the pandemic, northeast Oklahoma experienced significant new economic development activity this year. In February, American Airlines announced a $550 million investment at its Tulsa maintenance base, the largest capital investment in Tulsa’s history. In early March, the Chamber and City of Tulsa celebrated more than 25 years of partnership with Whirlpool as the company opened its $55 million factory distribution center.
With the onset of the pandemic, the Chamber shifted its focus to meet the immediate needs of area businesses and help retain as many jobs and workers as possible. That work will continue in the coming year as the Chamber raises funds to support Tulsa’s Future: Road to Recovery. This one-year strategic work plan will address today’s urgent needs for recovery and stabilization while paving the way for a new longer-term Tulsa’s Future plan to launch in 2022.
“We’re proud of the work done this year to support economic recovery, but we also recognize how much work remains,” says Carlin Conner, chair of Tulsa’s Future. “This short-term strategy, while revamping our long-term strategy, is critical to Tulsa’s long-term success. The Chamber’s enhanced collaboration within the business community and strong strategic alignment with other economic development partners will allow us to provide much-needed support to area businesses while ensuring we remain at the forefront of innovation and are poised for future growth.”
Supporting the region’s retained and retrained workers will be foundational to northeast Oklahoma’s long-term recovery and a large focus of Tulsa’s Future: Road to Recovery. Based on a recommendation of the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Committee, the Chamber launched a displaced workers study this fall. The study will provide a better understanding of available skill sets in the talent pipeline and what will be needed to compete in the future job market. The results of the study will be released in early January and will shape the future scope of work for the Chamber’s workforce and talent strategies.
Tulsa’s Future: Road to Recovery will also capitalize on the positive momentum created by high-profile national exposure during Tulsa’s bid for a Tesla Gigafactory to attract new employers and transformative projects to the region.
“Year after year, we’ve continued to attract the attention of nationally recognized companies, and despite the pandemic, this year was no different,” says Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “Northeast Oklahoma is a region where companies like Macy’s, Google, American Airlines and Tesla can be successful. We thank and commend our numerous partners who invest in and support Tulsa’s Future, and we are eager to help lead the Tulsa region toward post-pandemic prosperity.”