Enid Regional Development Alliance officials are working to be more aggressive in finding new employers to move to the area.

Every August, the ERDA board has a planning session, said Brent Kisling, executive director. Input is refined throughout the fall and prepared as a set of priorities for the next year.

The organization, historically, has done a good job of being responsive to the needs of businesses in the community and those looking to move here, he said.

“One area we wanted to improve is being more aggressive in finding new employers to move to our area that fit within the wealth-creating industry clusters that we already have here,” Kisling said.

With support from the board, the two biggest industries ERDA wants to look at are value-added agriculture and aerospace/aviation, he said. ERDA is working with a nationwide firm to analyze companies in those industries that are in a growth pattern right now and will aggressively pursue those and share the benefits of being in Enid, Kisling said.

“We’re in the sales business. We’re trying to sell the community of Enid, and an important part of that is product development. Anytime you’re in sales you have to have good product development, and I believe over the last several years we have improved the look of our community, the consistent look of our community,” he said. “In 2017, we plan to continue to work closely with the Enid First Team, which includes us, the Chamber of Commerce, Visit Enid, Main Street Enid and the city of Enid. We meet every month and discuss priorities for marketing.

“Just recently, the city council approved our master plan on wayfinding signage within the community. We’re starting to see new entrance signs come up. We’ll be looking at some of the more visual infrastructure within our community and highlighting those with our city council during this next year.”

There will be a lot of focus from the organizations on developing the product more so there is a consistent, modern look to the community, Kisling said.

“Another part of what we do is partner with the city on retail development. We are a community that historically let things happen when it came to retail. It was nice whenever we would hear an announcement, but we didn’t necessarily aggressively pursue sales tax-generating companies, which that’s how we finance city governments, it’s how we fill potholes and build water lines,” he said. “You will see us continue to be very aggressive with retail development and retail attraction in 2017.”

Salesperson and tour guide

“We are a salesperson for Enid, and we’re a tour guide. We’re constantly selling our community to new companies that would like to come here, we’re selling our community to companies that are here and would like to continue to grow and we’re selling our community to entrepreneurs that are wanting to start a new business here in the area,” he said. “That’s a very small part of what we do. The biggest part is the tour guide part. Once somebody says they’re going to grow, or they’re going to move here, we work with them to go through local, state, federal permitting processes. We work with them on filling capital gaps in their business plan. We work with them on introductions to the community and community involvement and the philanthropy side of our community that’s so important.”

This past year, the biggest thing was the relocation of the Hanor headquarters from Wisconsin to Enid, Kisling said.

“The reason I considered that a big deal is that the last several years, we’ve seen a number of our companies that were headquartered here move those headquarters outside of town or go through a merger or a buyout where the decision-making was no longer in Enid — the headquarters were moved outside of our town or outside of our state. I think this is a new move, with the Hanor headquarters, of somebody seeing this is a great place for a corporate headquarters to be.

“Besides that, you have the state’s largest capital expenditure for business expansion in history going on at the Koch (Fertilizer) plant.”

Other successes

Another success, in the past year, was the vote on the Kaw Lake pipeline to diversify the water source for growth in population and industrial access, Kisling said.

“I think we’ll look back at that vote 50 years from now and be very thankful that this generation stepped up to do that,” he said.

There were smaller accomplishments, like Love’s Travel Plaza in east Enid.

“I think it’s a really big deal to have a new truck stop move to town, but Love’s partnered with the city of Enid to improve the infrastructure at that corner,” he said, adding there’s now a traffic light and the size of the intersection has been expanded. “They also helped us to loop the water line. We didn’t have enough water pressure at that area for fire suppression and so you had a difficult time building new buildings and development on that east side of Enid.

“That loop of that water line now, it allows for things like Hanor headquarters to move in there, like the Fed-Ex distribution center to be constructed. I believe there’s going to be a lot more development over the next two to three years just because of that infrastructure that was put in place.”

Transportation Partners and Logistics has located on 66th.

“You’ll see that street improved over the next few months,” he said.

“We have long had a great investment in wind energy in our area, and with TP&L (wind energy parts company) now you’re seeing a mature industry that has the service-based companies now moving into the area to support the wind generation that’s been here for several years now, and I believe TP&L is just the first step in several other manufacturing opportunities and service opportunities that will come in support of the wind industry in Northwest Oklahoma,” Kisling said.

Story by:  Enid News & Eagle

Written by:  Jessica Miller