The federal government will give $500,000 to the Eastern Oklahoma County Partnership to pay for master planning work and to make the area more attractive for job growth. Some of the grant money will come to Luther.
A news release from EOCP announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce – Economic Development Administration (EDA) investment will serve unmet needs in Eastern Oklahoma County to implement comprehensive regional planning services and support foreign direct investment attraction to the region. This project will act as a catalyst for business expansion, capital investment, site planning and ultimately lead to area job growth, the release said.
Jones Mayor Ray Poland, EOCP chairman, said the five EOCP communities are excited about the future. “The grant will allow us to begin a regional comprehensive planning process, something that hasn’t occurred in many of our communities in the past. With the impending turnpike, comprehensive planning is a critical component of the EOC region’s future landscape. We are extremely grateful to EDA for this plan.”
EOCP is made up of five communities who give at varying levels; plus a host of private entities, hospitals and utilities like OG&E. The cities of Choctaw, Harrah and Jones invest at a “Platinum” level. While the City of Nicoma Park and the Town of Luther invest at the “Silver” level. Luther pays $441 each month to EOCP which describes itself as “a 501(c)(6) non-profit formed in 2011 with the mission of catalyzing the creation, promotion, and retention of jobs and investment, in Eastern Oklahoma County. EOCP pursues this vision with efforts in regional branding and business attraction, existing business support, legislative relations, business advocacy, and community development.”
The EDA award was announced by EOCP Executive Director Tim Hight who answered a few more questions about the news.
Luther Register: Specifically, how does this grant award benefit LUTHER?
HIGHT: EOCP will commission a planning firm to assist Luther to 1) identify local needs through web-based public involvement 2) structure a comprehensive real state planning process based upon community feedback 3) and work with community leaders for plan adoption
LR: Can you name the infrastructure problems to be addressed in the master planning: water and what else?
HIGHT: Each area of infrastructure will be evaluated in the public involvement process. The results of the process will be specific to each municipality and will be provided to community and infrastructure industry leaders.
LR: Does this grant go for actual fixing infrastructure … or just to pay someone to do Master Planning?
HIGHT: The grant is for planning only, but will provide long term guidance on infrastructure, zoning, codes & ordinances, etc. The scope of work is determined by each leaders from each community.
LR: In terms of all FIVE communities of EOCP, how will the new grant assist each community?
A: Each community will have the opportunity to negotiate on an individual basis with the selected planning firm what they hope to accomplish through the process. Some communities may emphasize zoning. Others may focus on determining infrastructure needs. Again, this process will ultimately be driven at the community level.
LR: Who represents Luther on the EOCP board?
HIGHT: Jason Roach is currently the Town of Luther Board Representative and will become EOCP Chair-Elect as of July 1, 2017. (The EOCP chair alternates between town officials and business partners. Currently, Jones’ mayor chairs EOCP, the next chair it Mitch Hale from OG&E).
LR: Can you explain the “foreign investment attraction” aspect of this grant?
HIGHT: Since 2011, EOC Partnership has marketed the EOC region on a global basis. Through the grant will allow EOCP to determine the greatest areas of opportunity for international investment into our region and what will need to be done to attract global investment. More information will be provided as data analysis is completed including: targeted regions, marketing partners, and targeted industry sectors. Stay tuned.
LR: How is EOCP attractive to foreign investment, and in what sector?
A: The EOC region is attractive to global investment based upon central location, proximity to 8 metro markets within a 1-day drive, cost-effectiveness of the market, energy resources and other factors. The future economic success of the EOC region greatly depends on carefully planning for future infrastructure extension, site development, and our collective and continued shared commitment to an exceptional quality of place and lifestyle. Our distinct landscape of rolling terrain and tree cover within Central Oklahoma area allows us to have a compelling advantage for current and future residents. Planning and development efforts should only enhance a tremendous natural environment and topography.
LR: Tell me a little more about the PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT in this … you mentioned something about your website being able to do survey and intake for each community? Is that one of the first goals?
HIGHT: Creating opportunities for meaningful public involvement is among the highest goals of for this process and is our first goal to achieve. Full details of the public involvement process will be provided at EOCP Annual Gala on Friday, August 11. Those interested in attending the Gala are free to contact the EOC office at 405-390-4769. Further, EOC Partnership will work with local media partners including The Luther Register to provide electronic access to online planning resources and regular updates as the process moves forward. Again, full details for public involvement will be released on August 11.